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QUINTILIAN’S CONCEPT OF PRESCHOOL EDUCATION ITS APPLICATION TO NURSERY SCHOOLS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

 Background of the study

               Education constitutes the most fundamental bedrock in the development of any society. It is based on the above statement that Osakwe (2006) defines education as a process of acquiring skills, potentials and abilities which will enable an individual to contribute efficiently to the growth and development of his society. In other words, the researcher believes that education enables individual contribute positively to the growth of the society. From the viewpoint of Abiogu (2013) education is an essential ingredient for development in any nation, especially in the economic, social, political, aesthetic and technological sector of the nation. In line with the above, Ibiam (2013) asserts that education develops the social attitude of youths and make them fit into the life of their society.  Similarly, Bamiro (2006) upholds that education is the process of cultural transmission and renewal. In a related view, Abiogu (2012) further affirms that education is a process by which the community seeks to open its life to all the individuals within it and to pass on to them its culture. In support of the above, Azenabor (2005) maintains that education in its broad sense, refers to any act or experience that has a formative effect on the mind, character and physical ability of an individual.

The foundation of the educational system is the preschool, upon which other tiers of education are built. Preschool education provides the bedrock for the future education of the child which includes the Crèche, Pre-primary, Day-care, Nursery, Early Child Education and Kindergarten, among others. According to Omozeghian (1995) Pre-primary is education meant for the children between the ages of 3 to 6 years. The (2004) National Policy on Education document defines pre-primary education as learning given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school. In line with the above, Mezieobi (2006) opines that Early childhood education is a formalized educational process to which children between the ages of 2-5 years are subjected to in designated preschool institutions. In the same vein, Mishra (2008) maintains that Early Childhood Care and Education refers to a wide range of programme all aimed at the overall development of children before they enter primary school. In this context, preschool education is education given to children to prepare them adequately before they enter into the primary school.

Preschool education in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era. In support of the above, Odigie (2007) states that preschool education did not receive official recognition before the advent of the colonial masters. However, it is currently beginning to receive the attention it deserves. The concept of preschool was introduced in Nigeria by the missionaries in the early 20th century when such schools were set up in the Western and Eastern regions of Nigeria. Preschool as we know it today in Nigeria is largely a post colonial development. The semblances of it during the colonial era were the kindergarten and infant classes, which consisted of groups of children considered not yet ready for primary education. In support of the above, Tor-Anyiin (2008) asserts that, grouping for instruction in schools was not age-based during that period, some children aged six or even more, could be found in some of the infant classes. With the phasing out of infant classes, some parents began to see the need for preschool educational institutions.

The government was earlier not interested in the establishment of preschool education. In support of the above, Tor-Anyiin (2008) asserts that, all efforts for the provision of early childhood education were confined to the voluntary sector and received little or no support from the government. It was for the first time in 1977, with the introduction of National Policy on Education (NPE), that the Military Government of Nigeria gave official recognition to preschool. Federal Government of Nigeria/United Nation International Children Education Fund (1993) asserts that by 1985, Nigeria had about 4,200 early childhood educational institutions. While by 1992 the number had risen to about 8,300. Currently, preschool institutions are found in several places.

Nigerian preschool education system since independence could have problems. According to Abdulrahaman (2012) preschool education can best be described as a system riddled with crises such as staff personnel problem as perceived by head-teachers of preschools, lack of professional teachers in preschools, inability of preschool core-curriculum to solve problems and parents’ inability to ensure morality in children. The above problems later in life may lead to high moral decadence such as ethnic rivalry, examination malpractices, touting, rape, kidnapping, religious conflicts, to mention but a few.

There is the need to take the education at Preschool level very seriously for the future of the nation. In support of the above, the Universal Basic Education Act (UBE), (2000) affirms that the foundation of education of the child is the preschool education. Activities that go on in preschools include teaching and learning, carried out by the teachers under the supervision of the head-teachers. It is expected that a positive change in behaviour could only be achieved through education. In his early assertion, Clark (1995) observes that teaching is the interaction between a teacher and a learner under the teacher`s care in order to bring about the expected change in the learner`s behaviour. It is the process through which change is made in the behaviour of a learner.

Learning, according to Osakwe (2006) has to do with a natural process of pursuing meaningful goals, and discovering learners’ unique perceptions, thoughts and feelings. In a related view, Offorma (2002) defines learning as the process through which behaviour is initiated, modified and changed. This is in line with earlier assertion of Barnard (2001) that early education experiences positively affect a child both at home and in the school as he is involved in education. In line with this, Nakpodia (2003) opines that a child who fails to acquire early education may suffer emotionally, socially, intellectually and even physically if he finds his way into the primary school without a sustainable childhood education. The above shows the immeasurable values of early childhood education.

Values are important ingredients of Nigerian educational system. Valuable things are important things that could be appreciated. This is in consonance with the view of Odigie (2007) that the rate of interest in the basic education of the child over the years has increased. Odigie states further that an educated healthy child is a foundation for the vibrant economic future of any nation. It is therefore important to teach the children those things that are of high moral values. Values in this context as stated in the National Policy on Education (2004) mean the following: Respect for the worth and dignity of the individual; Faith in man’s ability to make rational decisions; Moral and spiritual principle in inter-personal and human relation; Shared responsibility for the common good of society; Promotion of the physical, emotional, and psychological development for all children; and Acquisition of competencies necessary for self-reliance (p.2).

However, a solid educational policy cannot but embrace theories of philosophers on education. Aristotle (384-322BC), Plato (428-347BC), Socrates (469-399BC), Quintilian (35-100AD), to mention but a few, have tried to transform the method by which man thinks, acts, and interacts. They have always been known as educators of mankind. Among these philosophers, Quintilian is believed to be the earliest spokesman for pre-school education whose views may help in solving nursery schools problems.

One major problem confronting the preschool children in Kabba-Bunu Education Zone of Kogi State could be poor parental up-bringing. In Kabba-Bunu Education Zone today, it could also be that educational level of parents is very low. This state of affairs negatively affects the children in terms of proper moral up-bringing. In line with the above statement, Odedele and Egotanwa (2012) direct that parents should guide the children, direct them properly, orientate them on the benefits of good behaviours, attitudes and values.

It could be that the poor moral foundation experienced in most of the preschools in Kabba-Bunu Education Zone of Kogi State has been the major cause of high moral decadence in the State today. In line with the above, Odedele and Egotanwa (2012) opine that when a man lacks the right orientation of information on the way to live, his actions tend to deviate from the normal or the expected. This could be the reason for high level of immorality noticed among people of Kogi State today. In other words, the foundation of preschool education may be regarded as faulty and therefore needs repairs.

Apart from the above problems, the researcher observed that the preschool teachers in Kabba-Bunu Education Zone of Kogi State lack the requisite qualifications to teach little children and inculcate moral values into them. For a teacher to teach efficiently to transform the lives of pupils, he must be highly knowledgeable and morally balanced. Regrettably, Abdulrahman (2012) affirms that most of those who teach the preschool children are school dropouts and secondary school certificate holders.

It is worthy of note that the preschool education in Kogi state has been confronted by a lot of problems over the years. It is the researcher’s belief that most of the obstacles that block the attainment of pre-school educational goals in Kabba-Bunu Education Zone have not been discovered and properly addressed. In line with the above, Akinbote (2010) submits that the Nigeria educational system is performing below expectations and urgent steps must be taken to address the ugly trend. In a similar view, Okafor (2006) posits that educational goals must include within their circumference, a positive attempt to satisfy all the needs of human personality in all its various categories and individual differences. They should have some in-built flexibility and should be constantly re-evaluated in keeping with changing circumstances and human progress. Quintilian’s concept of preschool can be helpful in this respect.

Marcus Fabius Quintilian, one of the greatest and most influential educators of all time in respect of preschool was born in Hispania (Spain). His father was a well educated man, fully abreast acquainted with the importance of education. He was educated in Rome, where he first practised law. Redmond (2009) records that he was more distinguished as a teacher of rhetoric, and was appointed public professor of the subject with his salary paid with state fund. After 20 years as an advocate and a teacher, he retired to concentrate on writing. His reputation in modern times is based upon his great work in 12 books, the Institutio Oratoria (The Training of an Orator).

In the first two books, Quintilian discusses elementary education as was conducted in Rome. The next nine books are devoted to the principles and techniques of oratory; most notable is Book X, which recommends reading as an important part of an orator`s training. The final book represents a picture of the character and conduct of the ideal orator. The entire work shows a remarkable integrity and originality of thought expressed in a style that is lucid and dignified. The work had great influence upon humanistic theories of education during the Renaissance. The exact date of his death is not known, but Kennedy (1969) believes it to be around 100AD.

Basically, Quintilian’s contributions to education are geared towards the formative development of the child from birth. According to Quintilian as cited in Weikart (2000), the infancy of the mind is as important as the infancy of the body and need much attention. Furthermore, Nkokelonye (2005) states that, while other philosophers of antiquity such as Erasmus and Aristotle agreed that formal education should begin at seven, Quintilian insists that education of the child should start as soon as the child could speak. He explains that the condition behind a child starting school so early is because at this stage the brain of the child is very active. Quintilian focuses on the early education of the orator. According to Quintilian cited in Mbaji (2013) affirms that only a good man could be an orator and should exercise authority and leadership over the growing orator. In relation to this, Halsell (1998) posits that the child’s nurse should be a philosopher and both the parents and the teachers of the child should be well-educated. With respect to the parents, Quintilian does not restrict this remark to father alone. A well educated mother is regarded as an asset to a growing orator.

Quintilian is firmly in support of the view that education should begin early, and should be made pleasurable for the child. Quintilian (1856) maintains that the teacher is expected to provide various materials and activities to motivate the children to learn the language and vocabulary of reading, mathematics and science, as well as that of music. In support of the above, Osemwegie (2012) states that the child who is not yet old enough to love his studies, does not come to resent them and dread the bitterness which he has once tested, even when  the years of infancy are left behind. Quintilian further recommends that the child studies must be made an amusement, by making play and educational toys available for preschool aged children. In Quintilian`s evaluation of his pros and cons of school vis- a-vis public and home schooling, he came out in support of the former, in as much as it is a good school. In agreement with the above, Osemwegie (2012) hints that in public schools, social skills are learnt alongside with their studies and that students have much to gain than studying in isolation.

A good teacher, Quintilian affirms, will not burden himself with a large number of pupils than he can manage. Teachers’ attitude toward the pupils should be one that will encourage learning than thwart the enthusiasm of the learner. He insists that a good teacher will teach rightly while a bad teacher will teach wrongly. He emphasizes that high quality of teacher is needed to train the children. Quintilian emphasizes the recognition of individual differences in children noting that children from different backgrounds have different abilities in learning and they must be treated as such. Children who are deficient need to be given special attention. This will enhance overall development of every child. He condemned corporal punishment and maintained that learning should not be done under pressure, fear or stress.

As an ardent moralist, Quintilian does not fail to ground his theory of           education on morality. He stresses that the growing orator should be educated in moral norms. In his view, only a good man could be an orator. This was possibly a response to the corrupt and dissipated time which Quintilian found himself. Quintilian’s aim was to produce a perfect man. In a related view, Osemwegie (2012) submits that the decline in the role of the orator could lead to the decline in public morality. Only a man free from vice could give attention to the study of oratory. The point Quintilian is trying to establish here is that, the act of good speaking is worthless if not matched with moral uprightness.

In summary, Quintilian’s views and contribution to modern education focus on the early development of the child, apparently beginning from preschool to adult stage. Osemwegie (2012) goes further to state that, in the pursuance of the child’s education, consideration should be placed on certain influences such as the parents, nurses, teachers and the motive of individuals. When all these views are fully enhanced, little or nothing is required to produce an educated child for the betterment of the society.

Quintilian’s concept of preschool is practical and result-oriented. His contributions greatly influenced and shaped the Roman education whose system has become a model for Western and African countries. The researcher`s interest is based on the fact that proper application of Quintilian’s concept of preschool to Nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu education zone will revolutionize its education. Besides, it will bring about tremendous changes in the inculcation of sound moral principles among the children of Kogi state in particular and Nigeria as a whole.

Statement of the Problem

           The real outcome of education is determined by the effects it has on individual and the society as a whole. These effects come through the knowledge and attitudes which the individual acquires in the process of education. Unfortunately, some preschool teachers lack the necessary skill to teach pupils effectively. The foundation of preschool education could be faulty and needs repair. This is exemplified in the nation’s depleting economy, the spate of violence, political instability, high rate of kidnapping, rape, religious conflict, among others. The causes of these problems may be attributed to the type of education being given to the Nigerian children at the preschool level.

It could be that the preschool children are not given the kind of education that will serve the best interest of the individuals and the nation. Topics of schools therefore, seem to be incapable of taking care of societal values. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, preschool education is not what it ought to be, as it is expected to be the foundation for moral and academic excellence. If something is not done urgently to control the ugly trend, the national goals of preschool may not be fully realized.

As far as the researcher is aware, no research has been carried out on the Quintilian’s concept of preschool education and its application to nursery schools in the area of the study. It could be that Quintilian’s concept of preschool has not been effectively applied to nursery school education in the area of study. It is the view of the researcher that, if Quintilian’s concept of Preschool is enshrined in the nursery schools curriculum and properly implemented, it may help in solving the present problem faced in preschool education in the area of the study and the society may be better for it. Based on the foregoing, therefore, the problem of this study is to examine Quintilian’s concept of preschool education with a view to determining its application to nursery schools in Kabba-bunu education zone of Kogi state.

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of this study is to examine Quintilian’s concept of preschool education with a view to determining its applicability in Public nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone of Kogi State. Specifically, the study seeks to:

  1. identify staff-personnel problems as perceived by head teachers that may affect teaching and learning in nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone enunciated by Quintilian.
  2. determine what roles parents can play to help the children in nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone to cultivate the right moral values enunciated by Quintilian.
  3. find out the ways nursery school core curriculum activities reflect moral education in nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone in line with QC.

Significance of the Study

The study is significant in many ways. Theoretically, the findings of this study will help to explain the effectiveness of the ideas put forward by social learning theorist and the cognitive development theorist. The chief proponent of socio-learning theory is Albert Bandora (1962) while the chief proponent of cultural-historical theory is Lev Vygosky (1962). Bandora’s theory emphasizes the importance of imitation in the life of children or learners. According to him children learn by imitating their parents, teachers, peers, and influential people in the society. This theory is in line with Quintilian’s concept which also emphasizes the need for parents and teachers to be well educated both in character and learning in order to influence their children and pupils who do imitate them positively.

Similarly, Lev Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory emphasized the importance of environment and culture in the life of children and learners. According to him, the culture of a group of people which includes their language and general life dispositions influence the learners. This is also in line with Quintilian’s concept which emphasizes the importance of influential personalities in the environment of the child which include the parents, the nurses and teachers.

Practically, the finding of this study is beneficial to children, teachers, curriculum planners, policies maker, parents/society and future researchers. The findings and recommendations of this study were of great benefit to the Children and will ensure to a great extent a positive effectual behaviourial modification. This led to the inculcating into the children such values as honesty, hard work, cooperation, justice and patriotism to enable them become better and productive citizens.

Teacher’s perception on the current Nigeria education goals is to know the appropriate ways of applying Quintilian’s concept of preschool to the Nigerian education goals, since they are the main implementers of the curriculum. Curriculum planner is equipped with necessary information needed in developing a worthwhile curriculum for preschools.

Furthermore, the review of Quintilian’s concept of preschool equipped policy makers with the necessary information needed in formulating worthwhile policies in education that are value oriented. The change in children attitudes will in turn bring positive change in the family and society at large.  Finally, future researchers will consider this study useful. They will benefit from the findings and recommendations of this study in that, it will serve as a source of data for their future researches.

Scope of the Study 

The geographical scope was delimited to cover all the Public nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education Zone of Kogi State. Kabba-Bunu Education zone of Kogi State is made up of seven Local Government Areas namely: Kabba-Bunu; Lokoja; Koto-Karfi; Ijumu; Yagba West; Yagba East and Mopa-Amuro, all in the Western Senatorial District of Kogi State.

The content scope of this study was to examine Quintilian’s concept of preschool education with a view to determining its application to Public nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone of Kogi State.

Research Questions

          To guide this study, the following research questions are stated.

  1. What are the staff personnel problems perceived by head teachers that may affect teaching and learning in nursery schools in Kabba-Bunu Education zone in line with Quintilian Concept?
  2. In what ways will parents in Kabba-Bunu Education zone instil the right moral values in children vis-à-vis Quintilian‘s concept of moral education?
  3. In what ways do nursery school core curriculum activities in Kabba-Bunu Education zone reflect moral education as enunciated by Quintilian?

 Hypotheses

To guide this study, three null hypotheses are formulated and will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.

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