THE EFFECT OF SUBJECT SPECIALTY ON THE LEARNING OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL MATHEMATICS IN ABAK LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

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CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

1.1   Background of the Study

Teaching is the art of helping others to learn effectively. The teacher uses appropriate strategies and techniques in facilitating learning after undergoing specialized training which improves the quality and quantity of learning to a level that can justify the term effective learning. Although certain misconceptions about teachers and training in the school system have persisted for a long time now in most third world countries. The misconception include the beliefs that specialized training and subject teachers specialty is not necessary in teaching; that teaching is like a craft which can be improved upon just by regular practice and requires no theoretical basis, and that a teacher at least is born and not made. This mistaken belief according to Umoh (2005)

has been largely responsible for the employment of untrained teachers, badly trained teachers, teachers who have the subject matter but have not gone through teacher education training, and inadequately trained teachers in Nigerian schools for many decades.

It is true that teaching was carried on in different cultures for a long time at the level of craft, without theoretical base, and some of the teachers were quite successful. It is also true that other professions were practiced for centuries without theoretical base. For examples, bridges and roads were constructed with some high degree of proficiencies before civil and mechanical engineering were based on scientific knowledge. The distillation of alcohol from palm wine was also done. Similarly, the practice of agriculture, medicine and law existed long before man developed the theoretical knowledge for them. Yet one cannot but agree with the assertion of Adaralegbe (1998) that the modern breakthrough in the fields became possible only through systematic theatrical studies that are relevant to them. Their teaching was carried out for a long time at the level of craft, just like other professions mentioned above, is no justification that teaching has no theoretical base. Otherwise, “the born teachers would have performed better than the made teachers”. The qualities of a good teacher and the total outcome of learning in the classroom demand that teachers should be made and the subject specialty of teachers is perhaps the most influencing factor in the teaching-learning process.

The teacher is central to the problem of innovation and change in Mathematics teaching and unless teachers are trained and specialized in the curriculum materials, little change in the curriculum occurs no matter how good the materials are.

Etuk (2005) pointed out that employing teachers from related fields of endeavour for Mathematics in school is not enough for improved academic performances since these teachers only have the subject matter without being knowledgeable on the methodologies of teaching and the psychology of students. To teach Mathematics which is perceived at the junior secondary level as abstract and symbolic, the teacher has to be assisted through a training programme which exposes him to adequate basic contents, and understanding of children and youths and a grounding in general and special methodology. It has been observed that students taught by teachers who specialize in Mathematics and are practicing in their subject specialty had improved the academic performance than those taught by teachers who were employed so that the problem of the teacher inadequacy could be solved.

The effective Mathematics teaching in any level of the child’s education falls on the teacher whom Obioha (2000) regards as “King-pin”. He noted that no matter how thorough and inventive the Mathematics curriculum, no matter the resources at the disposal of the school and no matter how much there is a desire and good will for a change, the whole scheme will fall on a hard ground if the teacher is insensitive and ill-prepared to the mode of change. Such caliber of teachers should be knowledgeable enough to be versatile with the methods as well as give responsible leadership to children in exploration of nature.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

Mathematics is a core subject required not only for placement into tertiary institutions, but also forms the foundation on which future programmes of studies in science and technology are based. Unfortunately, for some years now the performance of students in this all important subjects has been poor through out the state and beyond (Ango, 2006). This in turn has affected the overall Mathematics programmes in tertiary institutions in the state and beyond. There has been concern expressed by individuals, parents, teachers and groups who have interest in Mathematics education about the poor performance. A lot of scholars relate the poor academic performance in both internal and external examinations on a number of factors, one of such is inadequate Mathematics teaches who specialize in the discipline.

Based on the above problem, the researcher’s interest and commitment is to determine whether students taught by teachers who specialize on Mathematics would perform better than those taught by teachers who specialize on other subjects.

THE EFFECT OF SUBJECT SPECIALTY ON THE LEARNING OF JUNIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL MATHEMATICS IN ABAK LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA