Category: Quality Education

26 Nov

Play as a tool for Learning

We all acknowledge the importance of education in the life of an individual. While some see education as inculcating morals and values in a child, others see the need to enroll children in schools. Yet, a few assure that it is in the need of a child learning a trade. Understanding and acknowledging the importance of all three aspects of education from different perspective, we need to emphasize the importance of sending children children to school. Schools afford the child access to learn from not only teachers, but students alike. A child learns about arithmetics, spoken and written words,  economics, science, and philosophy of how the world works. All these, though, should not limit the child to a Teacher_Student environment. An important question we need to ask ourselves is this. How important is play to the education of a child?

 

Needless to say, kids love to play. The freedom to make merry and laugh heartily is nothing compared to the solemn quiet of a classroom. Play to children is a means of self expression and self actualization. Majority of doctors, lawyers, and teachers dreamt up their professions from role playing while they were children. Should it not then be that play be a medium of learning?

 

ATLAS Initiative in conjunction with NIBCARD, on Wednesday, the 7th of November organised the African Board Games Fair for students in secondary school. Children from different schools like Prudence Secondary School, Adroit Secondary School, Oregon Junior High School, and Agidingbi Grammar School, were in attendance. The event introduced the students to Nigerian-Made games and exciting competitions. There were games like the 17-step game, Nwanyi-aga, Homia, and the most popular of them all, Luku-Luku.  These games trained the minds of the students. The Luku-Luku game in particular was to train the eye and hand coordination in the children. The game was an avenue for them to learn arithmetic and geography.

Children with special needs were not left out of the fun. They participated in the games with the aid of an interpreter.

Educating a child should not always be restricted to the four walls of a class room.  Room can always be made on the playground.

28 May

My Tech-Week Experience (Volunteer)

                   “THE MIND ONCE ENLIGHTENED CANNOT AGAIN BECOME DARK” – Thomas Paine

ICT is a said to be an integral part of modern life. Information and communication technology (ICT) in education is important because it has quickly become one of the basic building blocks of modern society.

“Teach me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” (An ancient Chinese proverb).  This quote came as a reminder of what ICT training does; real-time learning. It goes a long way beyond the theoretical lessons been taught in class we were able to assign two kids to a computer so they could work together and understand better.  These kids were trained on Web Development with the use of JAVASCRIPT, CSS, and HTML through which they were able to design a greeting card with styles and colors of their choice.

 

There were several moments were you could catch a glimpse of the excitement on the faces of the kids who were ready and eager to learn despite the inconveniences. It was one of a kind because Tech-Week was planned to serve these kids who won’t have had such an opportunity if not out of volunteering.

I was put in charge of the coordinating unit which was not my first experience in the case of dealing with school kids. However, this seemed totally different from what I am used to, which was dealing with kids in a religious setting (in a church). Some kids were not really producing outcome as expected after learning during practice. This was a tough moment where I saw myself organizing and motivating the kids and letting them understand that designing is like a language for expressing themselves. At the point, I came to realize that volunteering could bring experiences that call for extra effort than you had prepared for.

Finally, this project has shown me the importance of practical learning – how fast one can learn in a short while, unlike theoretical learning. Also that ICT is the future of human interactivity, and that future is NOW!

Looking forward to TECH-WEEK 2.0

27 Mar

Children in school are not learning

It is no news that majority of students in school are not learning. Here, we would delve into the reason why this is, and express our suggestions of possible solutions to this issue.

To be clear, these are just our opinions and we would like to know yours 

  • Learning is the process of acquiring new or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences.
  • A school is an institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students (or “pupils”) under the direction of teachers.

If you want to find a child who lacks quality education today, one of the best places to find them is in school. It’s quite ironic that the citadel of learning has now become the breeding ground for “half-baked” graduates. The initial good news is that the children are in school getting some form of education in the least. But the bad news is that their presence in school does not translate to acquisition of knowledge. Hundreds of millions of children are starting school, going day after day, year after year, but not really learning.

Schooling without learning is just time served.

Unfortunately, Nigeria is not excluded from this list of having to school without adequate quality education.

Some primary reasons why kids in school don’t learn include:

.

  1. Inadequate learning facilities & environment (Such as good chairs, desks, classrooms, e.t.c): Lack of comfort leads to short attention span and lack of proper assimilation and retention of information.
  1. Emotional problems from home and family: Emotionally stressful events that are experienced by some children in their homes causes for them, the inability to focus or pay attention in class. In such conditions, learning cannot take place.
  1. Archaic and Uninteresting method of teaching: Students, especially the younger ones can only absorb and retain large amounts of information when they don’t appear as ordinary words on the board. Audio and Visual tools, as well the use of physical objects in the representation of information.
  1. Lack of interest: The culmination of the aforementioned would lead to disinterest in learning. Then the school stops being about acquisition of information, but rather, a routine.
  1. Medical challenges: such as dyslexia, cerebral palsy, brain tumor, ADHD

 

The Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education), Target 4.1 was set up to address this issue. It states “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”.

 

Here are listicles of suggested solutions:

  • Provision of Conducive Learning Environment and Adequate Learning Facilities

Comfort is very essential when it comes to learning. There must be adequate learning facilities provided in a conducive environment to ensure that quality learning takes place. It is important that students are provided with adequate facilities for play, in order to relieve them of stress they might experience at home. Competent counselors that would be available to help the students with issues and develop proper coping strategies are also important.

  • Modern & Participatory Teaching Methods

It is not only essential that the children are able to hear the words of their teachers, but are also able to see examples of what they are being taught. For instance, it would be much easier to remember parts of the skeletal system when one sees an actual skeleton and can reference one’s body parts

 

That is how we can turn good news on schooling into good news on education and ensure all children are in school – and learning.

2 Mar

21st Century Learning

Learning as an act has changed over several central just like a chameleon, leaning puts on the nature of the current century in which it is taking place for example in the classical Greek period, students decide who their teacher should be, Socrates choose Plato and Aristotle admired Plato to be his teacher. The reverse has been the case since the introduction of the University setting. Universities provides the teachers and courses for student today. However learning in 21st century is characterized by variant of learning style and resources which is not limited to a location, hence being influenced by the ongoing globalization process which is integrating the diverse would.

The act of learning can therefore be put into a 21st century category which are

Four Cs of learning

-communication

-collaboration

-critical thinking

-creative innovation

Communication: covers beyond the verbal, written and local patters to the non-verbal, non-written and so on. The following are the new and easily comprehended medium of learning; these involve pictures, sounds, sign- language, body languages and symbols. Furthermore, understanding values and attitudes that can be interpreted in their individual content are necessary for 21 century learning. Media and technology have aided the promotion of these in short videos that are produced to enable easier comprehension.

Collaboration: since all these communication elements cannot be found in similar form in one location, there is need for collaboration. In a diverse team where the teacher is from another part of the world as well as every team player is different, a need arises where every team player is required to work with one another efficiently. School (organization) do not only promote respect but tap from the cultural diversity from the team. A new hybrid of communication element are developed towards the common goal which enable effective collaboration.

Critical Thinking: the 21st century learning has transcended beyond the “yes sir” kind of learning, where every idea is internalized without questioning. Schools and other learning institutions now experience the authority of what they teach, being challenged by new research. Therefore critical thinking is necessary to identify areas that need development beyond the traditional why of doing things. For example there are deductive and inductive research that reflect the practicality and efficiency of critical thinking.

Creative Innovation: do you know how to tell a story? Then you can sell everything. This is creativity. Creativity is presenting ideas that are conventional in an unconventional way, think of the design of a Maserati made into a Jacuzzi. Creativity will be learning mathematics in a computer game or English language in a voice recognition device. These are techniques created through team brainstorming. Creativity comes within environments that are both conventional and unconventional.

Learning in 21st century has therefore taken new shape with pointers to the globalization process. Communication style has led to collaboration that provides critical thinking and creative innovation.

28 Feb

The Importance of Play in Learning for Children

Play enables children to hone their creativity skills by making use of their active imagination, physical, cognitive, and emotional concentration. Play is essential to a healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very young age engage and interact with the world and people around them. It has been shown to help children adapt to the school setting and even to enhance children’s learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills.

Socio-emotional learning is best integrated with education; it concerns if some of the forces that enhance children’s ability to learn are elevated at the expense of others. Play at unscheduled time that allow for peer interactions are necessary components of social-emotional learning.

 

Benefits of Play Learning Includes but not limited to the Following:

  1. Play allows children to explore a world they can master, building their confidence, while practicing adult roles, improving their interaction with other children or adult caregivers.
  2. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies and strengths that lead to enhanced resiliency they will need to face future challenges they encounter.
  3. Unsupervised play learning allows kids to grow interpersonal skills, to resolve conflicts, to share, to negotiate, to learn self-advocacy skills and team bonding.
  4. When play is child-driven, kids practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their areas of passion, and eventually engage fully in the interests they wish to pursue.
  5. Ideally, much of play involves adults, but when a play learning activity is controlled by adults, children adhere to strict rules and directions and lose some of the benefits play offers them, particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills.
  6. In contrast to passive entertainment, play builds active, fit bodies. In fact, it has been insinuated that encouraging unstructured play is an exceptional way to boost physical activity in children, which is one key strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic.

 

Conclusively, play is a simple joy that is appreciated as part of childhood and should not be neglected. Play learning is fundamental to the academic atmosphere. It ensures that the school setting attends to the social and emotional growth of kids as well as their cognitive development.

24 Dec

The Story of a Determined Instrumentalist and Kolb’s Learning Cycle

These are the four stages of kolb’s experiential learning cycle, starting off with concrete experience down to active experimentation. This cycle has been widely used by most successful persons all over the world.

Aristotle once said that for things we have to learn before we can do them, we must learn by doing them. There is a popular saying that “whatever is worth doing is worth doing well”, that is giving it your 110%. The following brief story captures the experiential learning cycle.

Victor, popularly known as ‘VikkyKeys’, started off as a drummer at the age of 7 while in primary school. At age 10, after he graduated, his strength, dexterity and versatility in drum playing had increased. Later on in high school, Victor decided to learn other musical instruments, such as the keyboard and guitar because he believed in himself and his ability to conquer the challenge. His hunger for the knowledge and skills in playing these other instruments grew during church services on weekdays and Sundays; he always peeked at the keyboardist playing. However, in spite of his young age he was not content with just watching the keyboardist do wonders each service so he pleaded with the keyboardist to tutor him on the basics of the instrument. He built on his lessons with the help of nobody to develop himself, scaling the rudiments of the elusive instrument (this process demonstrates Concrete Experience).

In SS3 now, an amateur at playing the keyboard, a professional at hitting, Victor possesses what many would call raw talent. Victor knew that it was his hard work that got him where he is.

To demonstrate the other three areas of the cycle, after two unsuccessful jamb trials victor finally pulled through to Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), Imo state, to study Agricultural Engineering though filing Mechanical Engineering. As a fresher in college he was captured by a fellowship group, Student Christian Movement (SCM) where he met contemporaries at his craft and realized he was just a beginner compared to the individuals he had encountered (this is Reflective Observation). During his 100 level, while being mentored, he was challenged by his level mates who were far better than him (Reflective Observation). He knew that to assert himself as an asset within the group he must be extraordinary at what he does. He delved into guitar playing and developed himself. He started off by searching the internet for videos which he studied and practiced off almost every day. YouTube was his favourite source. By the end of his 200 level, Victor became a valuable asset to the fellowship group and other fellowship groups within the four walls of FUTO, as an instrumentalist who possessed the skills to play the drums and keyboard amongst his contemporaries (this demonstrates Abstract Conceptualization).

Further, by the end of his school year graduating with a second class upper, Victor become one of the most sought out instrumentalists in Nigeria featuring in live concerts across the country.

13 Dec

Access2School

It looks confusing to believe most times what the eyes sees but once you get to walk on the very same path that seems confusing and misunderstood – that’s when you appreciate what you have and see reasons to lift others out of such confusing state.

Within the past one year, ATLAS INITIATIVE has been identifying out of school children (4 – 17 years old) within several communities in Ikorodu such as Majidun-Ogolonto, Oju-Agemo, Adamo, Ota-Ona, Oko-Ito, among others. For the very first time, accurate statistics was gotten from the alarming number of children who have dropped out of school (or sometimes never started schooling) due to financial problem, loss of parent (s), ignorance and the underlined “lack of faith in the educational system” in an urban-rural area of Lagos state, Nigeria.

  

It gets better, as the willingness to learn is “burning” within these individuals we identified and the support from their community leaders is what has continued to motivate us in looking for funds and sponsorship to provide for their basic academics needs.

Daniel Okafor, 6 years old is one of the children we identified from majidun community. His story got our attention from his mother’s dedication of home schooling him and his sister after their father got struck with stroke – cutting off their major source of income. 

Being forced to stay home; Daniel and his family have to struggle from feeding, to house rent and buying medications for his father. He went from home play with other children to developing passion to the popular fishing within the community to support his mother – who occasionally hawks bread in the street.

That single attitude of learning and facing everyday challenge to be the very best, stands to be a magnet to our vision in uplifting others through learning and empowerment.