It’s something that has been playing around in my mind for a while, but became more ensconced this past week. I was part of the judging panel in a writing competition, and last Thursday, there was an event to celebrate the winners. It was a privilege and honor to see young literary geniuses in the making. Teenagers from various secondary schools in Lagos who wrote brilliant fiction stories about the menace of terrorism in the world today. Beyond the giving of prizes, there were talks to encourage the students about the numerous advantages of reading and writing, and generally having a good head on one’s shoulders.
Apart from being able to finally put a face to the names of some of the candidates whose scripts I had spent quite a bit of time marking over a couple of months, the highlight of my day was seeing my English teacher at the event. She was my very first English teacher in secondary school. She had also been a guardian and House Mistress to many of us during those tough boarding school years. She saw me first, and got my attention through a fellow judge. I was so happy and surprised to see her, but then it clicked; we were basically at an event which was geared towards promoting the reading and writing culture in young people. She is an English teacher, of course it made sense that she’d be present.
I was sitting on the high table, but the first chance I got to go and pay homage to my teacher, I took. It was a great moment. A proud moment for both of us. On her part she was happy to see one time little Lolade doing something worthwhile with her life, and was quick to introduce me to her colleagues as her former student. On my part, I was proud and humbled that my former teacher witnessed me contributing my own quota to humanity. By the way, I am still kicking myself for forgetting to take a picture with her. I guess I was too overwhelmed by the occasion. But, all through that day I had a smile on my face.
I have always had huge respect for teachers, but my mini reunion with my teacher made me realize just how much teachers really contribute to our lives, and why teaching remains the most noble profession on the face of the earth. Anyone who’s worthy of mention today was taught by a teacher at some point. Any achievements or successes recorded could not have come to pass without the significant contribution of a teacher. Any kind of teacher.
We should all be teachers really! It has to be the most fulfilling vocation ever.
“I can’t teach to save my life” or “I don’t have the flair for teaching,” might be some of the thoughts running through your mind. I used to think like that too, until it occurred to me that teaching doesn’t necessarily have to take place in a formal environment or within the four walls of a classroom. You can be a teacher anywhere you are. The only thing you need is a heart that is willing to pass on whatever knowledge you have.
Are you a mechanical engineer? Then, make sure you are putting that subordinate through properly on how best to employ the right tools to achieve the best results while working on that machine. If you are a makeup artist, ensure you teach your trainees the intricacies of the craft, such that when they become independent and begin to churn out good works, you’ll be proud to have been a part of their success story.
Whether you are a motivational speaker or mentor to someone or a group of people, you’re still technically a teacher. Teaching is not just a profession, but a calling that anyone and everyone should be proud to embrace. I understood a bit of that not just while marking the entries of our writing competition participants, but also each time I have been in the position to impart any kind of knowledge.
So wherever you are, take up that teaching challenge today. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Here are some of the pictures from the 4th Edition of the Teecoks writing competition for secondary schools in Lagos State, a Towunmi Coker Literary Initiative.