TEACHERS PERCEPTION OF STUDENTS PROBLEMS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL IN EKITI STATE
Background to the Study
Each stage or period of human life and development is associated with a number of problems. Adolescence, a typical and distinct period in human growth and development, is not an exception and has sometimes been described as a specially problematic period. Bakare writes that: The modern technological world has been aptly characterized by age of anxiety. But perhaps there is no stage of development at which those stresses and conflicts are more acute than at adolescence since at this stage physiological changes combine with psychological and societal factors to make the period a particularly critical one for the individual.
The need for concern about others group of individual has been emphasized. Dada remarked that: The adolescent comes for special treatment, because they have special physical and psychological needs; they vary widely in their physical, moral, intellectual, social and behavioural development. They therefore need special treatment.
The problems of adolescent in secondary school students considered in this study were those which related to academic work, study skills and habits, and the adjustment the students have to make due to certain features of the school such as its teachers, physical facilities and curriculum.
A number of studies like those of Bakare, Adams and Akinloye to mention a few had revealed that adolescent secondary schools actually have these problems. Some of the problems that have been specifically identified are; not knowing when and how to study. Fear of academic failure, lack of space in the school to study, some subjects being very difficult to understand. Fear to some teachers and principals and teachers having no regard for students’ needs and feelings.
There seems to be a close relationship between an individual’s needs and problems. People perceive that they have problems when their needs are not satisfied.
According to Mouly, in as much as everyone has at all times multiple needs to satisfy, everyone is perpetually faced with adjustment problems and therefore, is potentially capable of being adjusted or maladjusted depending on the adequacy of his need – satisfying behaviour. Also, Blair et al remarked that “delinquent acts would not be committed if the adolescent did not anticipate that they would satisfy some of his needs”.
In the school setting some of the students needs are teachers understanding, love and affection, books in the library to read, getting high marks, passing tests or examinations and securing a suitable place in the school to read. When these needs are not satisfied, students become worried.
The problems that result from non-satisfaction of needs have serious consequence on both the individual students and the society for example, juvenile delinquency which has been “recognized as a perrasive social problem” and school dropout regarded as a “social dynamite” which constitute “… a serious threat to our free society”, may result.
Makinde in his study, stated that “academic problems may lead to truancy, cheating and lying… The feelings of being unwanted may lead to truancy or latencies to classes”. Circumstances within the school which student seems not to like such as lessons being too dull or too difficult, teachers being inconsiderable of students’ feelings, school being too strict, teachers been unfriendly or too hard to understand by students, often constitute problems which may lead to students withdrawal and consequent dropout from school. The mass failure of secondary school finalists in the West African School Certificate Examination might be an indication or the aftermath of a large number of such problems which are related to academic work, study habits and school situation and which bothered students but remained unresolved while they were yet in the school.
The secondary school students, particularly as adolescent, need some assistance and guidance in finding lasting and appropriate solutions to these academic and social adjustment problems. A student deserves some help, especially from understanding adults, including their teachers, in dealing or coping with at least some, not necessarity all, of his problems. Peak and Mitchell had indicated that there is a strong need for this assistance with emphasis on the consequence of its lack.
No person has an unlimited amount of energy available and the anxious child invests so much of his energy in his problems that there in little left over to conduct his ordinary affair of life.
In Nigeria, secondary schools, including those in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, where Guidance and Counsellors are scarcely found, the assistance received by students in their efforts to adjust to their personal problems seem to come mainly from their teachers. It is in support of their view that Lindgren states that “most of the day-to-day work with the emotional problems of school children is the `responsibility of the classroom teacher”. After a review of students’ problems and comparison of the closeness of the teachers and counselors, interpersonal relationship with students, this author concluded that “for better or worse the teacher is in the position of being the students’ counsellor much of the time”.
In spite of teachers’ efforts, however, the type and severity of student’s problems and their consequence, tend to be on the increase as if nothing positive is being done towards minimizing or eliminating them. This might be because of the sort of assistance provided by the teachers are inappropriate in the sense that they do not satisfy the needs with which the students’ problems are tied.
Appropriate solutions are eluding the teachers probably because they do not accurately perceive the students and teachers – would be in a better position to help students only if they perceive their own problems. This implies that neither the trained counselor nor the trained teacher can provide appropriate answers to questions or problems they do not understand. This argument has been supported by Blair et al.
According to these authors, teacher who understand adolescent and problems that encounter, can do much to help make a successful transition to adult status. Too often, however, it seems that schools and teachers, because of lack of understanding, actually frustrate adolescent and contribute to their general maladjustment.
Consequently, if appropriate and lasting solutions are to be found for the academic, study and school adjustment problems of students, there should be an understanding of not merely the students but also their needs and problems by their teachers. In other words, the appropriateness of teachers guidance in reducing the problems of adolescent students would depend largely on the extent and accuracy of teachers understanding of the students’ problems. The criterion for accuracy in this respect would be the teachers of the students’ personal concern. It seem that, in the Nigerian secondary schools teachers’ inability to perceive their problems might be one of the reasons related to why teachers have not been able to find appropriate and enduring solutions to the problems of students in their care. It is against the background that the present study was formulated.
Statement of the Problem
These have been physical attacks on teachers, planned destruction of school property, various forms of adolescent student delinquency, riots and demonstrations, mass academic failures and school dropout in recent years. These are not but a few of the consequences of student’s problems which are related to study, academic work and adjustment to school.
In spite of the various efforts being made by parents, teachers, schools and other organizations to find lasting solutions or preventive measures, students’ problems and their consequences tend to mount and persist. Why is this so, one of the reasons for this may be lack of awareness of the students’ needs and problems by those who are directly concerned – teachers-within the school and the classroom.
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