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PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE TEACHING OF HISTORY IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Teaching is a complex activity and this is why it is often discussed in Conferences, Workshops and Seminars. No teaching method is adjudged the best as each method has its own strengths and weaknesses. However, there are many ideas and techniques of teaching history in recent times. These have replaced the traditional method where the teacher that knows the subject matter comes into the class armed with his facts and fires on as an orator or a public entertainer until the end of the lesson. The students’ not given the opportunity to contribute in the teaching-learning process become passive learners and gain little or nothing at the end of the lesson. Some of them may even sleep off in the process. Now the teaching of history has progressed. Chaffer and Taylor (1977) pointed out that teaching needs to take account of the pupil and the teacher as well as the subject. But this is not always the case with some history teachers. Some are teacher-centred and so they make history lessons dull and uninteresting and this results in boredomness among the students.
This in turn results in the gradual decline in the popularity of history among other school subjects. Today prospective history students complain when they are told to choose history as a course of study. This study has become very necessary because the subject is almost going into extinction in our secondary schools. The objective of this article therefore is to find out the constraints militating against effective teaching of history in secondary schools in Delta State using Ika North East and Ika South Local Government Areas as case studies. The question now is what are the problems militating against the effective teaching of history in Secondary Schools in Nigeria. Constraints of Teaching History
One of the constraints of teaching history in post Primary Schools in Delta State today is lack of interest in the subject by some history teachers. There are many teachers who lack interest in the teaching profession and such teachers who may be referred to as birds of passage in the profession, pay more attention to or devote more time to other things which will give them quicker gains than the profession. Such teachers take the profession as a hobby and therefore are not committed to it. Just like the adage which says that ‘a lamb takes after its mother’, such teachers who lack interest in teaching history can only succeed in killing the interest of prospective students in the subject. Crookall (1976) argued that
as a member of that profession, the history teacher should have at his finger-tips the skills and understanding necessary for the good teaching of his subject …he should be something of an historian with a genuine professional interest in the study of history as well as in the teaching of it. Without such a professional interest in history itself no teacher will have that personal interest and enthusiasm which are vital to real success.
It is only a history teacher who has kept his interest in his subject alive that can stimulate the interest of his students for children like and pay attention to what interests them, whereas they discard and soon forget what does not interest them. (Crookall, 1976)
Closely related to this problem is lack of resourcefulness on the part of some history teachers. There are many history teachers who though possess the relevant paper qualifications but are ineffective in teaching the subject. They prefer to teach other subjects because they lack the initiative to know what to do to make the subject interesting and exciting. An example is the writer’s experience as a teacher in Pilgrim Baptist Grammar School, Issele Uku where he introduced and taught history between 2002 and 2005. When the writer left the school in 2005, though there was a history graduate in the school he could not teach the subject because he preferred teaching Government. A resourceful teacher should possess ideas needed to provide solution to an identified problem. But because some of these teachers lack resourcefulness they do not use necessary aids such as Maps, Charts, Models, Pictures, Photographs, Radio, Television, Tape Recorders and Players, Films etc. Because these aids are not used the subject becomes dull and the students see it as an abstract subject and develop bad taste for learning it. Some history lessons cannot be effectively taught without the use of necessary teaching aids.
Another problem confronting the teaching of history in some Secondary Schools in Delta state is that sometimes non-professional historians are given the subject to teach. These teachers who lack the historians craft and techniques bastardize and make a mess of the subject. By so doing they kill the interest of the prospective history students. A non-professional historian will not know as Dickinson, Lee and Rogers (1984) pointed out that history deals largely with matters that are essentially contested and to look for unanimity among historical accounts is simply to misunderstand the nature of historical knowledge. He will therefore not be objective in handling historical facts. For a teacher to impact the right knowledge, he/she must have acquired the right knowledge through training. The acquisition of this knowledge makes him/her competent to impact the right knowledge to his students. A teacher who has not acquired the requisite training may not find it easy teaching what he has not learnt. Such a teacher will go to the class with lack of self-confidence which results in failure.
There is also the constraint of shortage of enough trained history teachers. Due to discouragement given to the subject by the government and the public only very few persons are willing to choose history as a course of study in institutions of higher learning. Only recently a girl was offered admission in one of the higher institutions to study history. The girl was not willing to accept the offer but decided to seek the advice of her illiterate mother. Her mother said she will not pay fees for somebody going to school to read history. When the writer tried to discuss with the woman, the reason she gave for discouraging her daughter was that everybody said history is not a good course for anyone to study. Now, who told this illiterate woman that history is not a good course of study? There is this public distaste for the study of history even among the educated elites who are ignorant of the contributions of history to the development of a nation. The problem of shortage of enough history teachers is compounded because as the writer argued in another paper, some teachers who read history in the Universities and Colleges of education sometimes prefer to teach subjects outside their discipline Onwuka (2007). They feel comfortable teaching Government, Christian Religious Studies, Social Studies, English Language or Literature while their subject is facing the threat of extinction. Some go further by changing their course even after obtaining a Nigeria Certificate of Education (N.C.E.) or a Bachelor’s Degree in history
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
Closely related to this is that Government does not encourage the teaching of history in schools. There are many schools in the state without history teachers while there are some history graduates roaming the streets in search of jobs. There is emphasis on the sciences but the nation can not do without the arts subjects like history
PURPOSE OF STUDY
The purpose of this study is to investigate the problems facing the teaching of history in selected secondary schools in Benin City. Teachers, parents and community and how well history programme could be designed to meet the expectation of these bodies. It is also hoped that the study will reduce the negative attitude of each of the above mentioned problems.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will enlighten parents and the general public, and also help the government to recognize the problems affecting the effective teaching of history in Junior Secondary Schools. It will also help in the identification of those problems, and in no small measure help both the teacher and education planners to rejuvenate the present standard of schools in these areas.
This will also guide policy makers on how to tackle problems facing the teaching of history in Junior Secondary Schools. And it will help enhance students understanding of history and thereby improve their performances in history examinations.
1. Does the shortage of manpower (history teachers) in Jss
2. Does shortage of teaching resources and other equipment affect the performance of students?
3. Is the wide scope of history responsible for students lack of interest in the subject?
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is limited to secondary schools in selected secondary schools
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Problems – Something difficult to deal with or understand. Some thing to be solves or dealt with.
Effective – Achieving the intended result
Teaching – Giving instruction by a teacher to a lecturer.
Curriculum – This is the sum total of what the learner learn at school and what the teacher do to make the learners learn from their first day in school to when they graduate.
Society – An ordered community, a particular system of ordering the community.
Influence – Exercise power over something, people have effect upon person or something.
Interdependence – To depend on each other.
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