Assessment of Teachers Awareness and Application of Child Centered Method of Teaching in Primary Schools

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Assessment of Teachers Awareness and Application of Child Centered Method of Teaching in Primary Schools in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State

1.1 Background to the research

Child centered method of teaching , as a Western-originating pedagogy, has been increasingly influencing policy and practice in many developing countries over the last two decades. Child centered method of teaching refers to a shift away from teacher-centred to student-centred teaching and learning opportunities and an emphasis on the learner as the centre of the education process (Schweisfurth, 2011). Teachers in developing countries have been encouraged to move away from ‘chalk and talk’ teaching strategies toward more discovery– based learning experiences, with an emphasis on children’s learning outcomes (Hardman, Kadira, & Smith, 2008; O’Sullivan, 2004; UNESCO, 2007; Vavrus, 2009).

While Child centered method of teaching has, in general, attracted international support, its extension to developing country contexts and the means by which it has been implemented, has been the subject of some controversy. Proponents of child centered method of teaching have emphasised its many benefits including making children active and confident in their learning process, developing their interpersonal relationships and interactions through group work activities, and improving their learning outcomes. Analysis of instances in which child centered method of teaching has been introduced in developing countries suggests its impact is highly contingent on the interplay of national and local actors and institutions (Mizrachi, Padilla, & Banda, 2010; Mtika & Gates, 2010; Schweisfurth, 2011; Wang, 2011). As Chisholm and Leyendecker (2008, p.196) note, “Sociology has shown that policy and curriculum implementation does not follow the predictable path of formulation– adoption–implementation–reformulation…” As a result, implementation of child centered method of teaching in some countries, including Nigeria, has been sporadic and inconsistent.

The means by which educational innovations and policies diffuse across developing countries is highly influenced by both national and local actors and institutions. Broad-scale educational reforms, which are implemented through top-down policy directives, imply unrealistic expectations of the ease of implementing educational initiatives, particularly when these are not communicated clearly and consistently (Schweisfurth, 2011). New educational practices such as child centered method of teaching, when conveyed through policy directives, can be difficult for teachers to understand and are thus often inconsistently implemented in daily teaching activities. At the same time, what it means to implement child centered method of teaching may not be consistently communicated by different parts of system such as teacher education and inspection (Schweisfurth, 2011).

Thus, though advocated by international education experts and often championed by developing country education agencies and donor organisations, existing literature suggests the transmission and outcomes of policies such as child centered method of teaching in local contexts depends critically on the manner in which teachers in diverse contexts perceive, encounter, adopt, interpret, and put into practice child centered method of teaching methods. Local cultural practices, teachers’ attitudes, inadequate teaching resources, large class sizes, overloaded and centralized curriculum and learner background place constraints on the effective adoption of child centered method of teaching in classroom practices (Alexander, Roux, Hlalele, & Daries, 2010; Chiphiko & Shawa, 2014; Chisholma & Leyendecker, 2008; Mizrachi et al., 2010; Mtahabwa, 2007; O’Sullivan, 2004; Yandila, Komane, & Moganane, 2007; Yilmaz, 2008).

The history of Nigeria’s education system foregrounds many of the issues faced within the contemporary context of schooling in this developing country, particularly as it affects ethnic minority students. Such background provides a context for understanding the issues surrounding the adoption of child centered method of teaching in this country. To date, there has been no empirical research on the child-centred approach and how it is being applied at a primary education level in Nigeria.