In most parts of the world children start school formally from about the age of five. In some other countries, especially in Africa, they start one form of schooling or the other right from about the age of two. The average student therefore starts attending school from about the age of two to seventeen when such student finishes high school and is now ready to proceed to the university. In the early years of schooling, students stay in school from about 8 am to 2 pm, which is an average of six hours. Students in high school will normally have lesson between 8 am and 4pm, giving an average of eight hours in school. This does not account for the time spent in school when children are waiting to be picked up by their parents.
The average day student, from the early years of schooling up to high school spends about one third part of his or her day at school, Monday to Friday, and all these in the company of teachers. For students in boarding school, the situation is more intense. They reside in school perpetually for whole terms, except during holidays, which includes mid-term holidays.
From the above facts, it becomes clear that teachers spend sufficient time interacting with their students; time enough to influence their character, shape their attitude and possibly impact and change their worldview. The conclusion which can be drawn from this is that teachers can make or mar the personality of their students by virtue of the guardian relationship which exist between them. Teachers can be said to be in loco parentis to their students.
Given the enormous influence that teachers can have and indeed do often have on their students in terms of personality development, the question whether teachers need parenting skills to be effective, not only in their teaching, but also in developing well-rounded, well-adjusted personality in their students becomes very relevant. It should be accepted as a matter of necessity that when teachers possess good parenting skills, they are better positioned to handle their students, especially those in their early years of personality and cognitive development. The actions, utterances, injunctions, attention or lack of it, empathy or harsh treatment that teachers may direct to their students can potentially impact those children positively or negatively for the rest of their lives.
Examples abound in real life of how teachers may negatively impact their student’s character and psychological make up. For example, I am aware that some years ago, a teacher in the biology class of a high school, jettisoned the slated topic for the period, introduced and taught masturbation to his a class of students comprising both boys and girls. He especially encouraged the boys to give masturbation a try as a way to reduce sexual pressure. In another high school, a teacher discouraged a class of students, including some who had been nursing a long standing ambition to be doctors, from reading medicine. The teacher’s argument was that doctors rarely get rich.
No doubt, experienced child handlers will agree that these encounters with the students have the capacity to do permanent damage to the character and ambition of students present in class during those onslaught on the minds of the students.
Two conclusions can be arrived at from what we now know about the enormity of the influence teachers exert on their students:
Teachers need a parental approach in handling their students.
There is the need to include Parenting Education in the training of teachers with a curriculum which must carefully teach child psychology.
There is no doubt that teachers who have better parenting skills are likely to produce students who perform better academically. It is hoped that school administrators and the various teacher training school will realize this and adjust the curriculum for teachers accordingly where there is presently this gap in training.