Opinion

Serenading Doyin Aguoru @ 50

By Toyin Falola

NUMEROUS people have graced the academic system but not many made indelible marks while in service. It is not the case that those in the latter category did not want to contribute ideas that would transform the activities of the educational system. More often than not, their inability to make enduring marks is underscored by indecision, lack of dedication, and sometimes misguided priorities. When individuals are battling with these challenges, they would not only be distracted from what actually matters, they would also have a wrong sense of purpose and a warped understanding of fulfillment. Those who made their names a popular one however desired and then pursued their goals with uncommon dedication and courage, determination and energy so much that success makes itself available for them without complications. It is when we see the results of their hard labor that we sometimes pass judgment on them based on our limited understanding and awareness of their unnegotiated commitment, not always knowing that behind whatever they have achieved are good years to toil, constant failure, and unwavering zeal. Doyin Aguoru belongs to this category of intellectuals making waves in the contemporary time as a result of their efforts. She had paid her dues; therefore, it is no surprise that she is getting the necessary accolades. Now that she turns 50, it is not coincidental that she has made herself a cornerstone of refined intellectualism of her generation.

Aguoru is a teacher, a writer and public advocate for gender equality, a compass for cultural knowledge, a representation of fairness and bearer of good moral principles. Interestingly, one of the qualities of a good teacher is leadership. Teachers are the front-runners of knowledge distribution but then knowledge cannot be transferred effectively to target audience unless the individual doing the job has professional approach to their work. For one, it is not usually the case that learners understand the core purpose of learning. The most predictable behavior of learners is their entitlement-seeking disposition which makes them believe that everything should revolve around them. Confronted with such problems, teachers who are not leader therefore are impeded from delivering great educational services that would help them navigate their life periods after the teaching engagements. This is underscored by the reality that they do not understand how they can lead the class to quality education at the end as they never possess the ability to persuade, dialogue, encourage and direct them to doing what is right for themselves. Aguoru does not belong to this category as everything about her oozes good leadership. She has demonstrated this by the way she relates with her students which makes the atmosphere of learning habitable and hospitable for their assimilation of contents she is transferring to them.

It is by no coincidence therefore that teachers who are leaders would easily have problem-solving skills to successfully tackle challenges and bring demonstrable results to the community. Problem-solving ability is one of those things that define a great teacher. Society generally needs people to solve problems that are confronting them. This is necessary because once a problem is solved, the society has the opportunity to move to greater heights. Whereas solving problems requires tact and readiness to pay attention to the smallest of details. More importantly, solving problems takes different layers and approaches. There are problems that are personal to students that should be effectively tackled as the inability to do this would bring distraction in the teaching engagements and knowledge transmission processes. Whether the said problems are personal or general, a good teacher would turn events around and make necessary marks to show they are capable of leading the packs of students. Aguoru has provided solutions to challenges in different forms. She has for one met students at their points of need by doing what is necessary and what is required. More than this, her intellectual contributions have provided solutions to myriad of problems as a number of them have inspired policy changes and intervention by necessary bodies who use those ideas to redirect the society for collective advancement. Numerous writings attributed to her have shown the deepness of her quality intellection, and this underscores why she is always mentioned when matters of productive intellectual engagements are up for discussion.

Whereas all the good things of life can be achieved when an individual possesses the attributes mentioned so far, but the longevity of the achievements depends on some other important but not so obvious variables. One of such is enthusiasm. Enthusiastic people carry out their responsibilities with some special energies which in most cases are beyond the kernel of ordinary people. Anything anyone does with enthusiasm, the consequences are always beautiful for they would have invested all their resources into it to make it work and effective. They always feel some level of radiance for their work. In teaching especially where Aguoru is a success, her success has been defined by the ability to show readiness, energy and confidence in the things she does. An enthusiastic leader and teacher has a good sense of humor which they use to bring calm to situations. In teaching situation especially, teachers must have a good sense of humor for they will have to inject it into their engagements whenever it appears boring, and students are tired. More than this however is the ability to keep one’s head under pressure. It is very important that one is not overtaken by the pressure of works at some point otherwise the individual would lose sight of what is important and derail away from the core business they are meant to handle. As a result, it is often the case that teachers with enthusiastic spirit discharge their responsibilities accordingly and have result for whatever they are doing. Doyin Aguoru fits into this category for you would notice her enthusiasm even from kilometers away.

Although it almost goes unnoticed, but it cannot be argued that what teachers do in classroom is tantamount to what health professionals do in their respective fields. Students who come to the classroom need to be diagnosed accordingly so that one can apply effective strategies for their own education. Meanwhile they all have to be met at their areas of need in the classroom. This underscores the reason why it is necessary for teachers to actively listen to their students and proper solutions to the challenges they face. Problems associated with learning difficulty and progression are actually the areas of concern for teachers, but any teacher that does not understand how to actively listen to their students would not offer appropriate answer or bring solutions to the challenges that they are confronted with. Diagnosing the students’ problems and offering effective solutions are ways that would enable the students to win the obstacles which they are facing in all areas. Like a professional doctor would do, they always ask for feedback from their students so that they would understand where they can give their honest encouragement and support. Underlying advantages of this form of teaching skills range from creating the necessary atmosphere for trust and in a way strengthening their bond. All of these would enhance healthier, stronger and quality relationships in teaching-learning process that the consequences for educational attainment are topnotch.

A very important quality of this scholar is adaptability. In teaching profession, variables are constant like a change. Given the fact that the atmosphere and conditions would always change, that is the reason why it is commonly said that only change is constant. In teaching, students and the conditions of teaching are the said variables, and they would always change. When this happens, it is the responsibility of a good teacher to always find ways by which they can adapt to the emerging situations so that they can be effective in the discharge of their responsibilities. It is generally necessary to be adaptive to the situations at hand. When one develops oneself in an area and approach, it cannot be overemphasized that they would need to update that approach when situations change. For example, cannot use the approach and the knowledge previously dubbed as successful for a set of students who are different in their thinking and attitudes. One would be ready to update one’s approach. That is the defining character of an adaptive teacher. Aguoru’s success in teaching has therefore been the product of her adaptability to the situations at hand, as she continues to make most of the available situation to turn things around and achieve set goals. To this extent, there is no contention about her ability to build impregnable ideas that always redefine teaching and introduce new development in teaching generally. She is constantly making waves and bringing new trends to the profession and now that she has accomplished moderately, she is deserving of accolades.

Finally, I believe I should inform my audience that Doyin Aguoru is not a teacher alone but I have chosen to use teaching, her profession, as the basis of my discussion of her from the beginning. This is because other areas of her influence also are used to teach and educate humanity. Aguoru is a writer, one that has continued to braze the trail with her outstanding contributions and creative ingenuity. A writer per excellence, her works have cut deep into the epistemic traditions of Africa, especially Yorùbá, where she draws conte and develop them to suit whatever topic she is addressing. It is no coincidence that her drama works are educative and informative materials that are basically needed for the enhancement of knowledge. One is always wondering where she got her energy from, but because she is made from the best citadels available, she has internalized ideas and values that show excellence even in whatever aspect of discourses she is taking in public and private interactions.

Courtesy: heartofarts.org

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