A famous saying goes, “if education is expensive, try ignorance”. This is usually used to emphasize the importance of education and the many benefits that education has, and for that matter, one should not dwell on the cost of acquiring education, not pursue it or not get one. However, in our quest to get educated or acquire education, we must also take the right measures to be properly educated, so we do not come out half-baked. One essential item missing in our various levels of institutions of education is teaching and learning materials (TLMs). TLMs, although hard to find in our basic schools, efforts are made by very serious teachers, who are usually referred to as “born teachers”, to improvise to help their pupils understand their lessons. Unfortunately, in secondary schools, it is a far cry from home regarding TLMs usage.
TLMs are simply aids used in teaching and learning. They may be real objects or improvised. They can also be objects that are seen, listened to or both. That is, they can be audio, visual or audio-visual. The teacher uses Teaching-Learning materials to help the students understand the lesson or better interpret the concepts in the lesson. TLMs are selected based on the topic that is to be taught, and it is important they are used at the appropriate places to get meaning to students or they become useless in the course of the lesson.
RELEVANCE OF TEACHING AND LEARNING MATERIALS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Teaching-learning materials are important to teachers as they are important to the students. It does not only serve as aid to teachers, but sometimes it lessens the burden of having to verbally explain concepts that can be done with a practical lesson involving a simple TLM. For students, having the privilege to see or hold something leaves more than just words in their minds. It is a whole experience that would be carried along and impact them for years and years. In addition, TLMs help arouses students’ imagination and stimulate them to think.
REASONS FOR THE LOW USAGE OF TLMs IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
TLMS usage in basic schools is quite better than in secondary schools. Aside from the fact that they are not easily accessed and can be expensive to acquire, efforts are made in the basic schools in their usage than in secondary schools. A number of reasons account for this.
Firstly, the cost of TLMs is one of the reasons for the low or non-usage of TLMs in secondary schools. Certain TLMs at the secondary level are expensive to acquire. Usually, these are TLMs that cannot be improvised, they are needed in their real nature, and it is difficult at times to improvise. Normally, they are used by students practically and are needed in quantity in order to get the lesson across. Sometimes, more than one type is needed, especially if it’s a practical lesson. The cost of these items may make it impossible to acquire and use them as they should.
Secondly, the lack of interest on the part of teachers is another factor that accounts for the non-usage of TLMs in secondary schools. In addition, teachers in secondary schools believe that students should be able to grasp concepts verbatim. Aside from that, some teachers lack interest in carrying stuff to the classroom as they may feel it burdens their movement.
Furthermore, the wrong profession syndrome is a major cause of the non-usage of TLMs in secondary schools. Some people are in teaching simply because they couldn’t make their first love career. And for others, “it is a stepping stone”. It is a means to an end. It is a daily struggle for some people, which may prevent them from doing their best.
Again, the gender disparity also contributes to the low or non-usage of TLMs in secondary schools. In most schools, the sex of a teacher plays a major role in the usage of TLMs. The success you may achieve when it is a class with more females than males may differ from a class with more males than females. When it comes to classes with more boys than girls, it is common to find those female teachers are easily disrespected by male students; the usual assertion is that female teacher are not academically good. It is often difficult to use TLMs in such classes as they would not participate, or just a handful would. This behaviour is predominant in areas where male kids are regarded more than female kids, for example, the northern part of Ghana.
MEASURES TO PUT IN PLACE FOR TEACHERS TO USE TLMs
To every problem, there is a solution, and although there may not be an immediate solution to every one of these problems, measures can still be put in place to find solutions to these problems.
- Provision of TLMs by the management of schools: The management of schools should make it an obligation to provide TLMS. It should be a priority, and the schools’ vision statements should be at the forefront. Most times, TLMs are after the thoughts of most managers of secondary schools because they assert that the teacher ought to provide these. Schools need to put in the effort to acquire TLMs for usage in their schools.
- Commitment towards the Job: It takes commitment and passion for being a great teacher. Teaching shouldn’t be “a stepping stone”, it shouldn’t be a means to an end, and it definitely shouldn’t be the last resort when people cannot get into the “glorious” professions they want. However, if people still find themselves in the teaching profession and it is any of these things to them, they can still make an effort to rise above these issues and put up a level of commitment for the sake of the students. They need to understand that they are in the profession to give their best to the students, and using TLMs in teaching is one key way of giving their best
TLMs are essential. No matter the child’s stage, the importance of the materials to help them learn cannot be overemphasized. Teachers and all the stakeholders in education ought to put in a different kind of energy and effort into the provision and usage of TLMs in secondary school.