This article is not about relay races, I promise.
Have you read the book, Pass On The Baton, by Yemi Adebiyi? I read it a few years ago and reread it recently. Each time, I found the book super thrilling; especially because it reminded me of my own experience. The use of imagery, puns, personification and other floral expressions added literary delight to the already cogent message the book passed across.
What is the message? It is that a well-curated educational setting works wonders (in terms of academic, moral and spiritual transformation) on individual as well as national levels. The main character was a teacher who was admired by his students for the amazing way he simplified Mathematics, embodied desirable values and inspired people. He was later framed by some detractors, but was vindicated and decorated by the president after a while.
The story of Teacher Desmond appears almost exaggerated and unrealistic. His qualities may even seem unattainable. However, the events in Pass On The Baton portray the ideal picture of functional teacher-student relationships. The book demonstrates discipline wrapped in love, intelligence enshrouded in selfless care, and patriotism shown in responsibility.
Even more impressive is the fact that the book hints at the possibility of a teacher wielding influence in non-school matters. It calls for an increase in amicable and valuable interaction among players in the education game.
I began with talking about a remarkable book because I could relate to its content. My teachers saw the prowess I had when it came to words. They identified my area of strength and helped me develop it adequately. They were my friends when I had none. While I waited to gain admission into the university, keeping in touch with them was a boon to my emotional stability. I got my first few writing gigs from one of them, too.
While it is true that some people have had unimaginable sour experiences with those who should have been their guides, there is no denying the fact that teachers play a crucial role in the way their pupils or students turn out. Teachers are not just agents of socialisation. They are role models, which could be either positive or negative.
I have learnt that a teacher, in the real sense, is not just someone who is a transmitter of theories or someone who scolds classroom learners. He or she wraps coaching, mentoring and parenting into one cloak which he or she wears in the classroom, each day. The beauty of teaching is that it gives people the opportunity of training students about life, beyond school subjects.
5th October 2023 was World Teachers’ Day. It brought back fond memories to, and stirred a deep sense of gratitude in, many people. The date helped me realise the impact that my own teachers have had on my academic performance, character formation and psychological development over the years.
Can you see that the current tilt towards digital literacy favours teaching, coaching and knowledge transmission in general? Teaching is timeless. It is noble. It is at the base of transformation in different facets. As we work towards public policies and make private provision that favour these beacons, they will continue to shine and will be joined by others so that we have the teachers we need for the education we want.
I will leave you with something to think about.
‘Teachers can open the door, but you must enter it yourself.’
— Chinese Proverb