OUTDATED TEACHING METHODS AND THE 2021 MASS FAILURE IN JAMB
BY EMEKA EZEKWE
The recent poor performances in the Joint Admission And Matriculation based Entrance Examination has once more brought to the fore the need to re-examine our educational system with the aim of attempting an upgrade to match global best practices.The problem most times has nothing to do with our children; the major issue has always been the teaching methodologies and our outdated curriculum.This becomes even more evident when any of our children who finds himself/herself elsewhere in the universe performs academically better. In Nigerian schools, we teach our children “what” to think instead of how to think.This has resulted to a lot of “craming “ or studying to “pass” exams and not to acquire knowledge.
If our school children are to thrive in an emerging complicated world, we simply need to begin to teach them how to think,and not necessarily what to think .The 2021 Jamb failure probably occurred because maybe the syllabus was altered or the questions were rephrased leaving the students marooned in the exam centers. Someone even suggested that it is because most of the special centers did not work this time around. A knowledgeable child should be able to answer exam questions very well not minding its form or structure.
We all want our children to thrive and succeed in life, but there’s no agreement about what it will take to put them on the path to true success. It even becomes more tricky with the dynamism of the changing world order in terms of professional requirements to succeed in life. Before now, it used to be classics, philosophy and lexicography. Then, it moved to law,medicine,engineering. Now, we are in the ICT phase and there appears to be no escaping the computer age. So, should every child be taught how to code? Foreign language is such a big deal now too,Should our children be prepared for life in different countries? Should there be need for fluency in Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi and English?Knowing or learning atleast one international language is always a plus for ambitious global pursuits .
Though these may constitute great enablers for success. However , they’re still not enough, because,If we want our children to develop adaptive and flexible mindsets that can readily absorb new information and respond to challenging and complex problems,we still need to assist them to develop their critical thinking skills of “whys” and “hows “ instead of “what “ .
Even for most adults,life sometimes and most times gets confusing or complicated in a way we never expected or in a way that requires that we deviate from our original path,we all have to deal with life questions that are even a lot more complicated than those found on a multiple-choice test. Since life has its own complexities ,we may also need to give our students an opportunity to grapple with questions that don’t necessarily have one correct answer. This is a better way and more realistic of the types of situations that they’re likely to face when they get inside and outside the classroom.
How do we start grooming our kids to think critically from an early age? Maybe,with an activity that every child is already an expert at — like asking questions.Going beyond “what?” — and asking“how?” and “why?”
Let’s say my child is learning about crime in society . His teacher may ask them a question like “What are the main causes of crimes in most societies ?” This question may appear simple on face value ,but,it’s not so simple — surely ,it can be answered with a quick google search and being able to answer it quickly may give my child a false sense of intelligence ; it makes him feel like he knows the topic, but his knowledge is superficial.
What,if during dinner l prompt my child to answer same questions in another form ,for instance,“How “ exactly does unemployment cause crime in societies ? and “Why”should government worry about it?To answer this question , my child will need to go beyond the simple facts and really think about a subject in a deeper way.
Other great questions will be like : “How “ will too much crime affect Nigeria and our lives as we know it?or “Why should port harcourt city in particular worry about rising crime rate ?” Localizing questions gives kids, an opportunity to connect something personal in their lives to whatever knowledge they have already .
We could also ask a follow up question to deepen the conversation and knowledge with,like “How do you know this?”
This will force the child to provide me with some form of evidence to back up his/her answer and prevent cramming ,copying or cheating. Answering a question like this requires kids to make some efforts in originality and help in the acquisition of real knowledge.It will also show him that there’s nothing wrong in having divergent opinions.
Asking a question like “How” will crime affect people living in Ghana or It’s capital Accra ?or “Why “should people living in Johannesburg ,South Africa worry about it? Kids will be pushed to think about the priorities and concerns of others, and to try to understand their perspectives —essential elements of creative problem-solving.We could then ask them how the problem may be solved ,like how government intervention in employment could help .
But be sure to focus on the question. For example, rather than ask “How “can we solve criminal activities in Port Harcourt, which may be a bit bogus for even adults to answer ,we could ask “How “ could we address,eradicate or solve Port harcourt rising or high crime rate. Answering this question will require kids to synthesize their knowledge. Push them to come up with a variety of approaches: What scientific solution could address PH crimes ,how much will be needed to equip the police and security agencies?.Will providing jobs and employment help solve the problem ?
You can start this project any time on any topic; you don’t have to be an expert on what your kids are studying. This is about teaching them to think for themselves. Our role as parents and teachers is to direct their questions, listen and respond. Meanwhile, your kids “have to think about “how” they’re going to put this into digestible pieces for you to understand it,This will make learning easier.
In Nigeria ,most of our efforts have always been geared toward making the child “brilliant “ or to come out tops in his class,in the process we put much pressure that makes him abandon learning and focus on passing his exams.Then,he leaves school and start wondering why they were forced to learn things that they will never need in real life .
When a child possesses real knowledge,no matter how you “twist” the exam questions,he should be able to answer it .
However,this is not to infer that Jamb is entirely innocent in this whole matter of mass failure ,why for instance should jamb result expire or exams be taken yearly by same student.A jamb result should be valid for at least 5 years or even permanent.A carefully designed skill based educational knowledge may be the game changer after all.