WHY TEACHING IS STILL THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD

1. The potential to transform lives – ask any teacher who has helped a student in any number of ways, from academic to welfare and emotional learning, and they will tell you that life is not only good, but amazing.

2. It gives you the chance to be continuously creative – of course there are increasing levels of accountability in teaching, but teachers are allowed to be creative in every lesson. Even in observations, in fact most of all in observations, lessons are encouraged to be creative and interesting to engage the students. Teachers have so many opportunities to try new ideas, and indulge in iterative process to ensure the optimum learning environment is created.

3. It offers you a chance to continuously get better – teachers are not only encouraged to seek continuous professional development, but can ask for observation on a regular basis, to provide opportunities to grow and learn from masters or more experienced practitioners. In so few professions is there such support, and considering that as a minimum, contracts are for a year, teachers have so much time to demonstrate improvement. A growth mindset is part of the foundation of teaching.

4. It is a grounding, humbling profession – the amount of work teachers do compared to remuneration is shockingly disproportionate, in 2 senses: firstly, in terms of how many paid vs non paid hours of work they receive, and secondly, in relation to other similarly creative and important (and not so important) vocations in our society. But that is not why teachers teach. So few teachers go into the vocation for the salary – it’s a calling before anything else.

5. There is always satisfaction somewhere – teaching is a calling, and no one enters it without his or her inner voice telling him or her that. Of course there are always some imposters, but the massive majority have their hearts in the right place. How cool is that for the students?

Having said that, teaching can be and is incredibly demanding, and often we can lose sight of that calling, bogged down in aspects of the profession that don’t seem to be connected to it. But on closer inspection, most of the extra demands are actually central to the job itself: explaining to parents where you are coming from; being observed; collaborating with others; marking.

Take this last aspect, crucial to understanding whether students are learning what you believe you are teaching. Yes, it is very time consuming, but perhaps one of the most important and fundamental weapons in a teacher’s arsenal; any good school will understand this and the other cited demands, and create an environment where they become part of directed time.

It is when these aspects are not acknowledged in directed time that the conditions for burnout are rife.

6. It’s a chance to truly to lead the world in the 21st century – introducing students to new technologies and ways of presenting, curating, and collaborating with others with what they know is truly exciting and truly invigorating. Modern teachers are actually pioneering pedagogy, and can and will be able to hold their heads up high in the future when we look back and see how learning in this day and age took a radical but enormously beneficial turn for the better.

Engaging students in greater collaboration, and instilling initiative in curation and the promotion of information leads to truly independent learning, and setting up such learning environments is an opportunity that all teachers now have before them. There are few more gratifying feelings that being needed.

7. The children.

By Paul Moss

Source: Why Teaching Is The Best Job In The World

STUDENT POPULATION IN NIGERIAN OPEN UNIVERSITY HITS 254,000!

The registered active student population of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN, has hit 254,000, its vice- chancellor, Abdalla Adamu, disclosed.

Mr. Adamu told the Economic Confidential magazine in Abuja that the number is distributed across the 77 study centres scattered all over the country touching all the states, local government areas and the six geopolitical zones.

“I can confidently confirm to you that the total registered active student population is now 254,000 scattered across the 77 study centres in the country”, Mr. Adamu said.

The NOUN boss also said that having the 77 study centres means that some states have more than one or two study centres depending on demand, adding that Abuja has about 8 centres.

He further stated that “some organisations come to us and ask for study centres and we call them specialised centres, notably Police, Immigration and the Nigerian Prison Service, while some states have community study centres.

He, however, noted that at the inception of the Open University, there were misgivings and mistrust about the institution, as many people did not look at it as credible and worthy. He said the pressure of students getting admission to conventional universities was increasing by the day as almost one million students want to gain admission into universities yearly through Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB.

He emphasised that the influx has become so enormous that the state study centres can no more cope with the population, which gave rise to requests for community study centres by some states and these requests were mostly from the southern parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the university authority has sacked the two companies manning the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and replaced them with an in-house team of IT experts, thereby saving the institution about 80 per cent revenue that had earlier been lost to NOUN.

“Well as for how much I have saved for doing away with consultants, I would not tell you that because that is our secret. When I took over, I saw that the entire Information Technology infrastructure were outsourced to two companies. One was called Cyberspace and the other called Emerging Platforms.”

“They were the ones running the entire system. As an ICT person myself because I spent about 15 years teaching System Analysis at Masters Degree level in Bayero University, Kano. Now how can I have a department of Computer Science, and the Dean of that department was the immediate Vice-President of Nigerian Computer Society, a professor of Robotics and other talents in ICT in these university, and yet still outsource all these to another agency, I said no it cannot happen!

“So the first thing I did was to look at the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between us and the two organisations. Of course they paid us the usual courtesy call so that they can remain relevant. We sat down and looked at the MOU and found out that in one of them the MOU stipulates 70 per cent profit and the other 85 percent of the revenue as profit because they provide all the skills, technology including examinations portal. I said this is not acceptable”.

“So we assembled a team and asked ourselves whether we can do this. So they said they can. Then I said go and design it and we decided to shut out the two companies and all kinds of legal battles started, stating that they have signed the contract for five years and cannot be terminated”.

“I told them that within the MOU we can give each other one month notice to terminate such contracts and so I have the powers to do so. You can imagine when the students pay this money, one company gets 70 percent of such payments and the other gets 85 percent! I said that has stopped, and any money coming to us would now be ours henceforth”.

He stressed that the revenue flow was able to provide needs of the study centres and train them at conferences to increase their efficiency, adding that the money is also used in paying for those writing course materials for the university.

We are contented because we do not request government to provide such monies, the professor said.

He said because of funds “being generated through the payment of tuition by students, the institution is now able to push out quality materials for students and also planning to shoot this into tablets, so that we have what we call “I-NOUN”.

“So this I-NOUN will be a complete package of courses. So we cut out these outsources and created our own services and it is working. The key to sustainability in any Open Distance Learning (ODL) is independence.

Source: Student population in Nigerian Open University hits 254,000 – Premium Times Nigeria

‘IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY, AT LEAST SAY IT WELL’

'IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY, AT LEAST SAY IT WELL’

Charles Moore reviews The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth (Icon Books)

An alternative title for this sparkling book, which would fit with its occasionally over-jocular tone, would be Locution. Locution. Locution. Such a title is an example of epizeuxis, I can now, thanks to this slim volume, inform you.

All of us use rhetoric, but few of us understand what it is we are doing, and therefore we don’t do it well. The only famous person in modern British public life who grasps what are called “the figures of rhetoric” is the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He knows their mainly Greek terms, and he knows how to deploy them. There is a strong argument for saying that it is his mastery of the subject that has got him to the top.

The author, Mark Forsyth, starts with the assertion that rhetoric can be learnt by almost anybody. But our culture is afflicted by the false concept of “genius” and by the Romantic movement’s idea that truth resides in nature: “They [the Romantics] wanted to be natural, and the figures of rhetoric are not natural.” He denies that Shakespeare was a genius: he was just a hard-working fellow who learnt Latin composition, and the figures of rhetoric, at his grammar school. (That is why grammar schools were so called, one should add, and why they were so good.) This taught him how to write. When he started to write plays, he was not all that brilliant at first, but he stuck at it, until practice made him almost literally perfect.

Another person who was jolly good at it was St Paul. His epistles contains a classic epistrophe: “When I was a child … I thought as a child.” The same passage also contains a tricolon (“faith, hope and charity, these three”).

Forsyth argues that the figures of rhetoric are like recipes for a cook. No one would cook blindfold, yet that is how most of us write and speak, throwing in the ingredients without knowing what they are and what they can do. So this is a “how to” book. Indeed, its subtitle is “How to Turn the Perfect Phrase”. This is, as the meerkats and the author say, “simples” (which is an example of enallage, a deliberate grammatical mistake). Study these 39 short chapters, 38 of which are named after different figures of rhetoric, and you can be up there with the all-time greats, Forsyth claims.

Even if this is a false promise, the book offers many pleasures. Sometimes I laughed out loud at the examples chosen. “Transferred epithets” are so common that we hardly think about them: “disabled toilet”, for instance – though one does all too often meet a public lavatory which is, itself, disabled. And only PG Wodehouse could have taken the epithet “astonished” and transferred it to the word “toast”.

Rosamond Lehmann said of Ian Fleming: “The trouble with Ian is that he gets off with women because he can’t get on with them.” That is a syllepsis. I also learnt from this book that bdelygmia, which sounds like some fell venereal disease, is the correct rhetorical term for a heap of insults.

Other devices are seriously deep and beautiful. Take paradox. God’s remark that “Before Abraham was, I am” is the ultimate paradox, a clash not only of apparent sense but of tenses.

It is interesting that some figures come more readily to human speech than others. All of us, particularly politicians, love anaphora, which means starting each sentence with the same words. Once you get going, you find it difficult to stop, especially if you are at the podium or the dispatch box: “We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.” Churchill did 11 of these in a row.

Zeugma, on the other hand, is tricky. It is when the verb governs more than one thing in the sentence e.g. “Dick likes whisky, Dick vodka, Harry crack cocaine.” In English, the device does not come naturally. Congreve originally wrote: “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turned, / Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.” That is a zeugma. But because it is unnatural to say, the phrase is altered in common memory to: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’

Behind all these rules, and the light-hearted way they are set out, lies the author’s belief that rhetoric is little more than fun. He ends his last chapter – which, with rhetorical correctness, he calls his peroration – with the following: “For though we have nothing to say, we can at least say it well.”

If he is serious in saying this, he is mistaken. Actually, I suspect he is not serious, and this is just another figure of rhetoric (whose Greek name he does not disclose) designed to win us over.

I have real difficulty with Alexander Pope’s famous lines “True wit is nature to advantage dress’d,/ What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.” What, exactly, is a thought without the words? How is the expression to be distinguished absolutely from the content? Please give me an example. The analogy with nature being dressed to advantage does not work, because here we are talking about language, which has no “natural” state.

Still, we are entering into philosophical realms here, and Mark Forsyth is wise to steer clear of them. It would spoil the cheerful cynicism of his tone. His essential message is “Ask not what you can do for your language, but what your language can do for you.” (Which is an example of chiasmus.)

• Buy Mark Forsyth’s Elements of Eloquence at Telegraph Bookshop

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/10455908/If-you-have-nothing-to-say-at-least-say-it-well.html