First day at school- The story of Taiwo(part 3)

I hope you have we enjoyed my last blog. Now, let’s wrap it up a bit as promised by me. Now, the tertiary years -the University !

University years:

One of the rare gift of a typical Nigerian is our resilience and love to exceed against all odds and academic achievements is always a pride here. We are a great people despite our challenges; we are always delighted to emulate  and follow after footstep of any learned persons who chanced to come our away. We see such as the most civilized both in moral conducts and social well being.Hence, I see campus as a haven where decency, decorum and modest dressing abounds beside other noble traits. Anything contrary is seen as an anathema and embarrassment. My first rude shock came on my first day coming from my background as a Muslim especially as it relate to dressing mode. Needless to say, the dressing of my supposed” campus model” fell of short of expectations. In today, civilized world,  this is nothing strange but normal ; but to an impressionable young man strolling into a campus  for the first time it means much that I wondered what really am  I going to learn here.

I must say that I got used to these perceived anomaly in my own  innocence estimate as time goes on . My boarder days life where I mix with different cultural backgrounds irrespective of religious and social difference gave me the  sound footing making my integration easy. Thank God, I escape the regimental life then in High school now embracing world of freedom the University life offers. You really have to be mature, focus and determined to make a success on campus. I discovered the University years need a different kind of approach to surmount .We had to hurry up to the students affair admission office and hence to our appropriate faculties of choice followed by department with your course form. Next we were all screen in certificate verification where you come across results of all kinds. Some all A’s , some B’s , some credit s and other a mix of all though the most important thing is that you have the compulsory five ‘O ‘level credits and meet the Joint Matriculation Board Cut off mark in your departments. Now, it dawn on me that your kind of results never matter at the end but the seriousness you put in  your studies. Some supposedly bright results carrier were flushed out at the end of the session due to their very low GPA as a result of  peer influence, campus politics and razzmatazz they dabbled into. We had some rusticated students whom we often referred to as Professional students- They talk to  you about campus life and they are always idling around hot spot all through even though they are never seen in lecture  halls. They spend seven years in a four year course. Woe betide you, if you find your self in their company perhaps they  add a kind of wrong glamour to campus!

After payments and formal registration, we boarded school bus to all of residence where the porter checked you in. My hostel was named after Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. We were four in a room , all of different level  and ethnic background and I learned a great deal here. The older students will advise you on your academics if you are found to be admirable personality. One of such, was Uncle Dot. His real name was Dotun Philips,; To me he caught an image of the un serious type going to lots of campus parties and get together but to my amazement he always attended lectures and come top in class. He sleep early and wake up to read at night- a daily routine of consistency second to none while his co-travellers already drunk were fast asleep. To, be honest my room was too noisy with musicals and gist of all type making me to visit my friends room but Mr Dot came with his timely advise on my reading habit. Taiwo, he said “you must fashion out your own study habit and never copy other students. Watch me as I woke up at 3 am to revise my work. You too can sleep and wake up to read at the laundry as I do”. Thus , I emulated Mr. Dot and it paid off though I had to endured some inconveniences in the room. Some occasional smoking by Mr Dot even though hall of residence rules does not permit it . However, at a point we all got used to each other and we all graduated with good grades in our various field of study. Mr. Dot studied English Language, Musa-Medicine, Toyin- Theater arts, Wale Economics and I – Physics. Today, I have been fortunate to reconnect with some of them especially Musa. I wish to meet with others soon

Najimudeen Salaudeen

Author and Founder, The School Podium Inc

First day at school-the story of Taiwo (part 2)

I do hope my last edition made an interesting reading. Let’s zoom the lens to read the part 2 of my day 1 at the High school.Welcome.

High school:

My high school year was indeed a mix of challenges as a growing up kid in an alien environment quite far from home especially, the food , the culture and language though I was a bit fortunate to be raised up in the midst of serious minded kids in my neighborhood at a local Islamic madrassah in the ancient tin mining town of Jos, the Plateau. At end of my sojourn, I excelled in my academics due to my strong resolve to do well and please my dear uncle Hussein who was my mentor.

We were offloaded to school in a swoop and off we went to a town on the shore of Benue river  some seven hours drive in a dusty road. My high school was a low fees mission school and enjoyed a fair reputation of academic excellence in southern plateau then. An uncle of mind accompanied us to school being a first set student. Uncle Raheem, introduced us to the hostel portal and then the senior boy of the school on that fateful afternoon and we felt great and untouchable. Alas, we were all proved wrong immediately my uncle returned home.

My rude shock came when the bell was rung in front of the boys’ hostel as we were made to line up in different queues especially the new students of which I was one. In an instant, the senior and prefects introduced themselves one after the other- A prefect came addressed us, hey ‘fresher’ palm wine’,geisha’s. Yes, that was our name being freshers. My name is Senior ‘BOT YAM CHARAM KOI’ though though my real name was Abdul Aziz , the senior thundered and I felt a shiver run down my spine. All of you freshers , kneel down on the gravel piles in front of the hostel. This , we did an hour after which they all returned to ‘baptized” us in a ceremony of ‘tail cutting’. We  were told be disciplined and be obedient to our seniors no matter what class he belongs. A senior is always a senior and is always right! You are to fetch water for your seniors every morning , wash his clothes and his plates in addition to other errands such as fetching his food at the kitchen.

After all the hostels rule were read to us, we were asked to crawl on our kneels to an isolated room called the’ locust” – a kind of an hostel cell were erring students were punished from night till down. You really have your self to blame if you stay an hour in the ‘locust” as you will be greeted with hordes of  mosquitoes. Sometimes , you were made to be a human fan to blow on your seniors who will often be inside a mosquito net bed. I must say, the first day was like a prison and I was kept wondering why we were greeted with such harsh treatment despite that my uncle brought us. You really need to be spartan like to attend boarding school in those days. My wondering thought was jolted, when the bell was wrong for launch and there after an afternoon siesta bell. Next comes, the forenoon prayer for the Muslim student where a senior Waheed by name , kind but disciplined student from Lagos drilled us on the need to be prayerful and to always wake up 5 am when the call to prayer was made.

The evening prep after games and dinner came too fast and off we slept, only to be awaken by loud bang of our beds- a sign to get up for dawn prayer and there after morning portion where the labour prefects and others supervised us . You need to put up your local kerosene lantern whenever there was no electricity. Immediately after, we jostled to fetch water from the school well to give our seniors for their bath after which we returned for about a mile to get ours, wash  and then go to the dinning. I must add, that this kind of life was new to me as all my education was not outside my town.It was regimental; the good thing however were the academics as we were all well taught by expatriate teachers mainly Indo-Pak teachers and few Ghanaian and Nigerians. My school was well equipped and academics was the best especially in the sciences. I do not like to say this, that with the exodus of these foreign teachers and decay infrastructure, my school was now a shadow of its former self. I guess that the old students like me needs to really pay back and improve the decayed infrastructure of the school. Whatever foundations we had was built in us. I sincerely wish that all old students get to read my blog and add values to their Alma mater.

On the teaching staff, there were quite many exemplar and I remain eternally grateful for their doses of daily assignment and eternal vigilance at our hostels and prep classes buy yet, the seniors still have their ways of bullying us without the knowledge of the school authority. A minute of laxity and lateness was never tolerated as instant punishment was awarded some quite severe, but woe betide you if you complained to the management. Glancing back at such memory evokes mix feeling and poor understanding of learning methodologies which times has quite overtaken. Spare  the rod , spoil the child maxim do not necessarily add values but sometimes they do with moderation if need be especially in parts of Africa where they still exist. I hope you enjoyed reading my piece, stay tuned till part 3. Thank you for following my blog. I hope I can get better with your likes and comments

Najimudeen Salaudeen

Author and Founder, The school Podium ,Inc

 

 

First day at school – The story of Taiwo

My first day at school differs but all share similarities. The anxiety, the desire and enthusiasm almost gave way to disappointment if not for divine providence. This I guess must be because ,the school environment were not conducive. Education was not really fun but my determination,the intrinsic motivation and guts saved the day. Perhaps , the best experience I had was at the Elementary school , followed by the university years and then the High school. Kindly read my story and I hope you can share yours too.

Elementary School

As a young boy , I was enthralled by the sparkling khaki uniform of students about entering school for the new session arose my curiosity prompting to ask my mum , what are all these pupils moving in a particular directions doing. She promptly replied , ‘they are going to school’. School ? what the hell are they doing I asked in order to satisfy my curiosity and fantasy as a child of 6 years. She told me they learn books brought by the Oyinbo or white men. In an instant, I promised to go to school but I had no idea , that there is need for a uniform , writing materials  and  inability to meet the admission criteria where you put your hand to the head as a form of measure etc but my mum .a widow not wanting to discourage her last son , gave me a kaftan, a wooden slate and a feeding bottle stuff with Garri- local  dried cassava pellet and sugar stuff in it. Off I went. We were made to queue up in many lines by an elderly teacher fondly called Baba Kamoru who lives adjacent to my father’s compound in the village. We were made to recite the national ancient anthem and multiplication tables as routine every blessed day spanning a full first term. I must say, he was my first teacher and motivator . It is such a shame that I don’t know his real name as is typical in most public schools in this part of the world. No teacher was without a nick-name. We were more comfortable with that and thus do not border to know their real  or surnames.

In the typical Nigerian village, there was no electricity , pipe borne water and any other social amenities   and my village was no exception; even as I write the roads are almost impassable especially during the rain seasons but yet we had fun in our own way such as wrestling with my mates, hunting , weaving baskets and listening to tales by moon light from elders and siblings at nite.  We are agrarian community fully into cassava and cash crop farming and just had the privilege of free education brought to us in 1955 by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the then Western region in Nigeria. We had to trek on foot for several miles and often bare footed. My only joy was meeting my peers together at school and idling away play in the school field. I had no idea that you must read to pass examination. In my innocence, I just don’t see the need for reading  and there were no formal or other counsellor as such to guide. You are really on your own, but we were not caned the first week. My mum naturally thought that I would naturally withdraw from the school but alas she and my siblings were put wrong. I guess a kind of divine force was pulling me to school as school then was filled with grown up and bullies. My teachers then make quiet an impression on us with their well starched khaki short and their impeccable English- they were role models and next to God in our eyes as these teachers always come from distant town through dirty unwind road to our desolate village . They must have been subjected to lots of hardships but the villagers appreciated and reward them with food stuff from farms  and I guess there were quite world of difference now.  Perhaps, our cultural essence and respect is being lost due to modernization. Watch out for the later series in my next blog. Happy reading.

Najimudeen Salaudeen

Author and Founder, The School Podium Inc

The ingredient of success-part 1

The desire to progress in one way or another is embedded to a lesser or greater extent in human nature. Distinctive characteristics which differentiate the upper class from the lower class is always a function of  how each of the classes use  the opportunity that comes his way. In academia, politics or in the business world , success does not come cheap but based on certain precept and tested principles. I hereby invite you to peruse those critical ingredients of success garnered from the experiences of successful men in the ages past and now.

These ingredients are as follows:

Desire

Faith

Specialized Knowledge

Planning

Decision

Persistence

DESIRE-This is the starting point and the ultimate of all achievements.Without it , nothing worthwhile can be achieved. Remember that to carry out a particular desire, there must be a particular step to follow:

  1. Fix in your mind the particular desire.
  2. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess your desire.
  3. Create a definite path for carrying out your desire, and begin at once whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.

FAITH- Faith is the head chemist of the mind. when faith is blended with the vibration of thought,the subconscious mind instantly picks up the vibration, translate it into its spiritual equivalent, and transmits it to definite intelligence, as in the case of prayer. Faith is the starting point of all accumulation of success and it is also the basis of all “miracles” and all mysteries which cannot be analyzed by the rules of science. Faith is the only antidote for failure because faith is the element, the “chemical” which when mixed with prayer gives one direct communication with infinite intelligence.

SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE-This is a personal experience of observations. We have general knowledge, no matter how great in quantity this may be, it is of  but a  little use in the accumulation of success. Knowledge will not attract money nor lead to power unless it is organized and intelligently directed, through practical plans of action, to the definite end of accumulating success. Knowledge is only potential power and it becomes power only when , and if it is organized into definite plans of action and directed to a definite end. Knowledge can be purchased by someone’s experience and education and also by special training courses and of course through the cooperation of others. I welcome your comments and criticism. Stay tuned to read the part 2.

Najimudeen Salaudeen

Founder, The School Podium Inc

THE SQ3R METHOD OF SHARPENING YOUR STUDY SKILLS

There are basically SQ3R methods known as the most proven way to sharpen study skills. These are the SURVEY, QUESTION, READ, RECITE AND REVIEW. I trust it will do you lots of good if you take time out to commit them to memory.

SURVEY-Get the best overall picture of what you’re going to study BEFORE you study any detail. It’s like looking at a road map before going on a trip. If you don’t know the territory, studying a map is the best way to begin.

QUESTION-Ask questions for learning. The important things to learn are usually answers to questions. Questions should lead to emphasis on the what, why, how, when, who and where of study content. Ask yourself questions as you read or study. As you answer them , you will help to make sense of the material and remember it more easily because the process will make an impression on you. Those things that make impressions are more meaningful, and therefore more easily remembered. Don’t be afraid to write your questions in the margins of textbooks, on lecture notes, or wherever it makes sense.

 READReading is not running your eyes over a textbook. When you read , read actively. Read to answer questions you have asked yourself or question the instructor or author has asked. Always be alert to bold or italicized print. The authors intend that this material receive special emphasis. Also, when you read, be sure to read everything including tables, graphs and illustrations. Often times tables, graphs and illustrations can convey an idea more powerfully than written text.

RECITE-When you recite, you stop reading periodically to recall what you have read. Try to recall main headings, important ideas of concepts presented in bold or italicized type, and what graphs charts or illustrations indicate. Try to develop an overall concept of what you have read in your own words and thoughts. Try to connect things you have just read to things you already know. When you do this periodically, the chances are you will remember much more and be able to recall material for papers, essays and objective tests.

REVIEW-A review is a survey of what you have covered. It is a review of what you are supposed to accomplish, not what you are going to do. Rereading is an important part of the review process. Reread with the idea that you are measuring what you have gained from the process. During review, it’s a good time to over notes you have taken to help clarify points you may have missed or don’t understand. The best time to review is when you have just finished studying something. Don’t wait until just before an examination to begin the review process. Before an examination, do a final review. If you manage your time, the final review can be thought of as a “fine-tuning” of your knowledge of the material. Thousands of high school and college students have followed the SQ3R steps to achieve higher grades with less stress.

READING– A primary means by which you acquire information is through reading. In college or university, you’re expected to do more than reading in high school. Don’t assume just because you’ve “read” the assignments that is the end of it. In studying, you may read the same assignment three or four times, each time with a different purpose. You must know before you begin reading what your purpose is, and read accordingly.

TURNING THE CHILD TO ACADEMIC LEADERS-THE BEST APPROACH?

There are varied path and decisions to be made when children are pursuing academic questions. Some raised quite a lot of questions bothering on the extremes and middle path. What is best sometimes is a personal decision , cultural differences and religious values. However,  some believe that getting the child to the end point is all that matters these days but don’t you think there are grey areas which need to be addressed and which has create dichotomy in education achievement of the children educations.

Decisions on how to pursue academic excellence can be grouped into two types.

Parent-driven focus on tutoring , advanced classes and testing drills. The other approach is the broader choices and a more relaxed approach. These has sparked national debates in the US. Thanks to the book” Battle Hymn of the Tiger mother” by Yale Law professor Amy Chua. In Chua’ works, she uncover and advocates an Authoritarian style that pushes kids through discipline, diligence and relentless drilling with little time for fun-no sleep overs, play debates or sports (i.e the Chinese parenting).

However , in the West, parents does not push Children hard enough. They are concerned with self esteem. Yet they achieved academic excellence taking different path.what other factors could be responsible. Perhaps technology has had much impact to drive this approach.

Taking Africa especially Nigeria, the hybrid approach seems to be  adopted in my opinion but the parent -driven focus holds the sway  especially in the Pre-middle school years where grades determine college admission to the high school. Parents constantly monitor their children school assignment and home works . As a result of recession and economic challenges , work pressure has gradually taken the toll with less supervision of the child’s work . In those days of my growing up as kids, discipline standard was quite high and caning the child was the norm but now  less emphasis on this and  other authoritarian style   is in place. This radical shift taking place as a result of globalization , even though good should not be totally wiped out. This is so because children need to be guided and cannot be equated to adult. This may be important in the pre-teen and middle school years but as the children grow older , more talks and counseling roles may be more important because their self esteem must be raised with their increasing cognitive domain.I welcome constructive criticism on how and what decision is made in different path of the world in order to provide informed opinion and data to academic planners because the kind of approach we give the child to day is critical to what they become tomorrow.

STUDY TIPS FOR HIGH FLYERS –CONCLUDING PART

I hope you have enjoyed the last two editions of success tips for high flyers. Now, it is paramount to note that many students do not realize that studying is a mind game. Lots of students are caught often wandering out through the class window or idling away with their handsets. You must take note of that only the mind that concentrate wins any endeavours or projects whether it be sporting, praying and studying etc Being physically present in class is good and makes sense if only your mind is flowing with the current. Imagine how disastrous it will be as a pilot and you become absent minded. Block out any form of whispering, distractions that could negatively harm your study and class.
In the hypothetical battle between the stream and the rocks, the stream wins not as a result of its strength but persistence. To be a top performer, students must be consistent in all reading and test assessment. A little slip is dangerous. Always put to practice anything you have read and master the key words in each subject. Many students have performed excellently in the examination only to perform woefully in their records of assessment which has robbed them of glory. Remember those assessments tests are set in order to measure students’ diligence and seriousness and are thus a bonus. The point am making is that for you to be a high flyer, you need to be consistent in all your tests beginning from day one in school or college.
Next come the association problem. By that I mean your friends and study mates. A lot of otherwise bright students have turned a mediocre and fails to make the desire grades. If you must make it, there is no gain saying the importance of whom you are attracted to. Always get attracted to students with good grades; be like them and work in group if need be to discuss and solve problems together. Our character, our grades are markedly a function of the friends and study mates we keep. Choose your company carefully; failure to do this may lead to disastrous end. However, you must never given in to name calling or labels by unserious students such as tagging you “ book worm, egghead, effico” etc. Get serious and associate with only the academically minded students.
Another common pitfall of students is the inability to identify the requirements of their field of studies. The language of expression, the extent of works to cover, ways and manner of answering examination questions for the desired grades. Some students waste valuable time in answering question not asked for. Such confusion and loss of marks comes in simple questions as “define and what is meant by” which have different marks allotted to them. Added to this is the need for you to make constant repetition of whatever you have read. Discussing and teaching your mates in form of tutorial only enhances your knowledge of the subject. Ask questions and be actively involved in such groups. Knowledge sharing with peers enables you to judge the extent of your preparation and standard.
Last but not the least; as a serious you student must discover what study method is most suitable for you. Make use of mnemonics as an aid in remembering what you have read. Remember that reading is not the same as studying. Always make notes of whatever you have read using high liter, book marking and using note pad when necessary. Associate studying with physical objects, anecdotes and get the fact in your head that every one is a genius. What affects us is how we prepared. You must develop your passion and raise your self esteem to be nothing but the best in your class. Pray and be hopeful of a rewarding school experience. Surely, the sky is never your limit and I trust this concluding essay of mine will be helpful to you. I hope to hear from you later.

Najimudeen Salaudeen
Author and Founder, The School Podium Inc

STUDY TIPS FOR HIGH FLYERS-PART 2

As a continuation from my last series on the subject matters; next is for you to be decisive. You must determine today what grades are unacceptable to you. Your determination and decision matters a lot and is critical to what you get out of life. Remember you must make good choices to succeed in life. Every day, write a decision statement and make daily evaluation on how well you have keep the track. Play your part and put God as the ultimate support.

Fill in the expected grades in your jotter or hang it somewhere in your room. You need to dream big and focus on what you want so early in life. No worthwhile goals can be realized without dream. Anything you perceive is what you receive. Do not allow anybody to scuttle your dream. Sharpen your foresight, your dream as the butcher sharpens the knife he uses to cut the meat. Set your eyes on the best results and work hard to attain your dreams. Be celebrated. Look for good reason to do worthy things and be remembered. Envision what you want to be in future and motivate yourself that it is quite possible but remember that nothing good comes easy. The best teacher to motivate and galvanize you is your self. All high achievers are self motivated people.
If you reflect deeply, you will observe that your destiny is in your hand. That success you make of your life and school your sweet reward. The society and school can also reward your scholastic achievement at the end of your study either monetary and or as prizes /medals of honour. You must never let your parents, friends and those who hold you in high esteem down. Make excellence your focus and you will be rewarded in a most amazing way. The sky is never your limit.
Lest I forget, do not forget why you are in school. Yes, it is to study and attend class regularly so that you can attain that lofty dreams set earlier. Sadly, lots of students got derailed on the track of success by getting absorbed in campus razzmatazz, partying, cultism and politics. You must prioritize and that calls for doing the first thing at the right time. The passports to achieving are focus, discipline and being dedicated. Never miss your class, scheduled of works and revision as at when you do. Never mismanage your time. Allot to each task its own time. Watch out for the part 3 of this series and hit me back with your valuable comments and additions. Stay blessed.

Najimudeen Salaudeen

Author and Founder, The School Podium Inc

STUDY TIPS FOR HIGH FLYERS

     Success never happens by chance, adequate planning ,hard work and other noble traits must be put into operation when you study in school. Sadly, not many students realized this fact that there are secrets to the high flyers’ achievement on the day of graduation from college or university.  Success lies in taking the right decision at the tight time and affairs are run with firm resolutions but not to idle around about nothing. Come with me as I divulge the study tips secret to make you a top performer in your academic pursuit and a cynosure of all eyes.

     The first thing you must do is to decide what you want to become in life and prepare a study time table at the beginning of the term or semester. In essence time management is essential. How we manage our time is critical . Divide your semester into 3 months and be prepared to do self test on topics taught monthly; weekly and daily revision. I have used this technique even in my Pre- college days and my            university undergraduate and post graduate days in Physics. You do not need to stress yourself through rote learning or memorization which has its limitation. You may pass the examination but lack real understanding. As an educationist , I know that this technique works.

    Next is for you to choose your study time. Look for cool and undisturbed hours to study. Human beings are unique and we posses different comprehension ability. Do not just follow people to read. Ask questions on why am I reading, Why am I reading and what time to read. Lest ,I forget that reading is not the same as studying. You study when you make notes of what you read, jot down salient points ask questions and draw likely test or examination questions.

     Make a note form summary in a book or jotter on what you read from text book, e book and notes so that when the last few hours to the examination come, you can have quick revision . You do not need to read text book s especially an hour to the examination period. Your note form jotter is enough. You can contact me if you want me to teach you how to write note form summary. I am here to add value to your study.

  Lest I forget , you need to attend classes as there are salient points and question the teacher or lecturer may discuss that only students who attend class can pick. As a successful teacher , I know and practiced this concept unintentionally. Good teaching is not mechanical, teachers uses concept and different teaching methods when imparting knowledge. What out when your teacher repeatedly solves a problem.

Having done all these, you must understand the value of intrinsic or self motivation without which learning objectives can be achieved . Try to motivate your self that only the best position is good for you. Emulate good teachers and take them as role models.

Develop in you power of focus and concentration in class . Do not allow your mind to wonder about . You must concentrate . Avoid social media , chats etc during classes. Remember, you can not eat your cake and have it. One thing at a time.

I believe these few tips will set you on the path of success as a high flyer. Success shall be yours . I welcome readers comments , questions and addition on these tips which is part 1.