Written by Toheeb Bankole
Being a practicing artist and an part-time art teacher in an elementary school, I decided to do something that will help to increase my students interest in art and also help to motivate them. There are some of my old artworks lying in my studio that might actually fetch me some cash if sold or that I could have carelessly discard. So it came to my mind that I could actually take this to my school and give it to students so they can get inspired.
I used to teach in another elementary school before now, but I resigned just two months into the job. Not because the pay wasn’t any way encouraging (as that is common every, teachers are the least rewarded despite their relevance) but because I do not not share the same ideology the school administrator. The school administrator was focused on increasing population with little concern on the development of the students while I was more concerned about the development of the students. The school dramatically reduced the standard of my subject to the extent of converting a food and nutrition teacher to work as an art teacher (someone who personally confessed his total ignorance of the subject to me). This they did because they don’t want to pay for the service of an additional teacher but expect a single art teacher to handle about 100 students. Being and artist and activist, I knew that wasn’t good for per personality and I resigned immediately despite plea from some of the students and Co workers
On getting the artworks to the school, I shared it among 4 classes basic 6 to JSS 3 and boom the responses was beyond expectation. Not just that the students were amazed and motivated, co teachers began to appreciate me like I have just donated millions to the school. A teacher unknowingly said, “this the true art teacher unlike the other one we used to have”. The students clustered around me and I begin to engage them in inspirational art talks. Told them how long I’ve been practicing art and how I have developed with time.
Truly, I saw potentials, there are great kids there.
But two things happened that almost got me to tears. Firstly, a student ask me, “sir, you said you just finished your B.A in unilag which means you be serving next year, so what will happen to us?. For some seconds, I couldn’t reply because I never thought any of them would ask me such question. And when I regained myself. I just replied by saying let’s hope for the best. Secondly, a student gave me a drawing as a gift for the holiday. I was so touched. This has never happened to me before. Personally, It gets to my heart when I receive gifts especially when it is not monetary. It rarely happens. I was so touched that I hugged him and told him how much I loved the artwork he gave me.
Throughout yesterday, the whole drama keep running in my head and I began to worry if all teachers are passionate about their work and their students growth.
Another sad thing is that, I’ve never had it in my plan to take teaching as a lifetime career, I don’t think I want to teach for living. NO I DON’T
The whole drama made me link it to my undergraduate experience and I was wondering if our lecturers were very passionate about the work and about the students.
Hmmmmm, here is where I’m going.
My undergraduate days… I learnt a lot.
I met lecturers. I met lecturers that do not care about your assimilation level or style of assimilation they just want to lecture and go.
I met lecturers who termed wickedness as discipline and principle
I met lecturers who had better learning experience when the economy was good yet didn’t come out “in flying colours” yet expected our generation, under this economic situation to be super heroes even when they failed to contribute their quotas as passionate teachers.
I’ve met lecturers who will tell you that they are lecturers and not teachers so don’t expect that they will waste their time teaching you what you should know (what you’ve never been taught)
I’ve met lecturers who are quick and stern to tell you what to do but how to do it is non of their concerns, and when you do it to your best ability but “not good enough for their standard”, you get failed for…. Doing what they should have done for you.
I have met lecturers who expect you to see/treat them as God or demigods before you can pass their course even when you are smart enough.
I have also met lecturers who are like fathers. They don’t just focus on your academics but also concerned about you personal life and welfarism.
I have seen lectures who are not just ordinary lecturers but real and passionate teachers
I’ve met lecturers who financially assist students. A particular lecturer used to dash out oil colours and also buy us refreshment during his practical exam.
A lecturer once told us that 70% of what is in the curriculum is not just obsolete but also less relevant to our career as it has little or no economic impact on us.
A lecturer once bought an artwork from me as a means of encouragement and investment
I have met lecturers who can help student fight for their rights without expecting anything in return
I’ve seen lecturers who can engage in intellectual discourse with students without acting as “Omniknowest”
I’ve have seen lecturers who gives students the chance to question their grades without being intimidated or victimized
I’ve seen a lot….. Yes I have
Until you put your passion in everything you do, until you see beyond the rewards, until you are concerned about making impacts, you won’t make teaching as memorable and insightful as it should be.
Thanks for reading
Toheeb Adebayo Bankole