GringGring! Gring! My phone rang loudly in the library. Few heads turned to look at me, some disappointed that you hadn’t put my phone on silent. But that didn’t concern me. I checked the caller. It’s my friend, the ever serious one that was calling. His voice was unusually quiet over the phone.
“Your Baba is on his way to Room 32. He said today’s class must hold.” The line went deadline before I could form my reply. Three minutes later, I was out of the library, my paper bag with only two notebooks glued under my shoulder. Though I am not the most serious of all students in my class, neither course it be said that I am the worst. I am something in between not being too serious and not being too playful. That’s who I am.
In another two minutes, I was in Room 32. It is only those that want Baba to make them subject of discussion that would come in after Baba has started his lecture. In his usual manner, Baba would discuss latecomers for ten minutes out of sixty.
I took my seat at the rear of the class, sitting beside my close guys that were already in the class before me. Those of us at the back seem to be the ones that are tired of the department or so we thought. A minute after I had seated, Baba walked in, dragging his feet like an octogenarian. He was dressed in his usual oversized ankara material with a round cap. That’s his own style and his identity is unique. We learnt Baba is still in his sixties. However, he is already behaving like a man above his age. The sound of his feet as he dragged them along the corridor could be heard from a distance.
After about five minutes of familiarizing with the class, Baba opened his bag. He brought a big book like one of Donald Guthrie’s. We were glad he said the it wasn’t for us. He then brought out another material. This one was like the one we’ve been used to getting from the lecturers. I put the pages at 75 or 85. He read the title out to the entire class. “Introduction to the New Testament,” he said. The course code is RCS 221. He then gave instructions on how to get the materials from the course representative. According to Baba, he would make several copies so we could buy them directly from him.
Just then, one of the ladies in my class entered and scuttled towards the back seat to where I was seated. We could all tell the lady indeed appeared beautiful and attractive that jafternoon. We thought after she had seated, that was all. But it wasn’t for Baba. His introductory class turned to a discussion about womenfolk. This continued for several minutes. One thing led to another and Baba his sermon. He said it’s not good for students to come late for classes. He then began boasting about he made First Class Honours from the department in 1981. He told of how he took his classes serious and also how he read extensively. Surprisingly, he said he used the lecture material he just introduced to us as an undergraduate student in the department. From my calculation, that was well over thirty five years ago. The man that wrote the book had died. Many things had changed about some topics in the material from that time. As we would find out in subsequent classes, Baba never said anything that we couldn’t find in the material. All his lectures were structured after the outline in the lecture material. No new knowledge whatsoever, except of course filling our ears with different characteristics traits of womenfolk. Yet, according to the department handbook, Baba had his first stint as a lecturer between 1984 and 1991. He returned to the department in 2010. This is enough time to couple a lecture material together, one that would reflect new areas of discussion about the course.
Unfortunately, Baba the isn’t alone in using old lecture material. There is another lecture material that I found out was written in 1989. The title is Interaction of Religions. That means the material was written thirty years ago and yet nothing new has been added to the curriculum about the course. The same thing that was learnt thirty years ago when the course was just starting off as a new course in the university is what we’re still learning now. Nothing is taught beyond those prescribed in the material by the writer.
Worse still, the lecturer in charge of Philosophy of Religion doesn’t have a sound lecture material, old or new coupled with the fact that she appears not to be conversant with the topic she’s teaching. Many times during her class, she would pause abruptly and take quick strides to consult the notes she had prepared on her laptop. Even now, my fellow backseaters said she scanned her lecture notebooks and that’s what she is reading from. It sounds plausible because she always dictates to the class from her laptop.
Apart from few of the lecturers in the rank of professor that have written something on many things on their area of specialization, they have also reviewed those books. Some lecturers too have taken their time to couple together lecture materials for students in different levels. But many of the lecturers still parade the classroom with old lecture materials and glorifying their knowledge of old curriculum. They often boast of writing articles in respected academic journals and even attending seminars and conferences. However, that doesn’t in anyway reflect in what most of them are teaching students in the class. They teach no more than what is in the material. Many of them also expect same in the exam. No new knowledge is brought to the classroom but rather they stick to the dictates of the old materials. Some of those lecture materials have been in use before some of the lecturers were admitted into the university. The knowledge they have subscribing to the courses in their undergraduate days is what they’re still passing in today. They are always quick to label us as intellectually lazy, yet they’re guilty of same even though they still get paid for it. This is one of those things we face as students in the department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan. They forced us to stay in the department yet they don’t have anything good for us rather than boast to us about their writing exploits.
I have one charge for the department. There should be a call for review of all lecture materials that are being used in the department. Besides, each lecturer should be mandated to write at least twenty pages of lecture material on every course they’re in charge of although references could be made to previous ones. The course materials should detailed the intricacies of the courses. This I believe shouldn’t be hard for any man or woman that calls himself a lecturer in the premier university. Any lecturer that couldn’t prepare a lecture material on a course he or she has been teaching for many years is not worthy of being called a lecturer. Rather, he or she should be called an intellectually lazy fellow.
Hopefully my 300 level wouldn’t be as my 100 and 200 level characterised by lecturers being unsure of what they are teaching the students.