Physical attributes, conceptions and anthropogenic activities constitute an environment. The fusion of the variables- human activities and the physical structure into a unitary context has been reported by researchers to greatly influence the development and productivity of a child. The physical attributes refer to the surroundings the child is exposed to such as houses, offices, gardens, recreational parks while the human activities include culture, religion, literacy, values, and level of urbanization amongst other contingent factors. Behavioral child development theorists including John Watson and B.F.Skinner, have proposed that there are five different concepts of environmental influence on a child’s development:
- The prenatal environment
- The physical environment
- The social/cultural environment
- The learning environment
- The emotional environment
Although all of these aforementioned concepts contribute to a child’s attitude and perception towards education, more emphasis are laid on the social/cultural and learning environment. The social/cultural environment focuses on the norms, values, morals and beliefs that define the standard of behavior that regulates life in the environment where the child is raised. The learning environment presents the level and type of stimulation available in the child’s immediate environment, which in turn shapes the cognitive development of the child. Watson (1930) say:
“Give me a dozen healthy infants…and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select…regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors”.
In lieu of the aforementioned theories, it is fair to say that a child’s attitudinal identity to education is largely (maybe not exclusively) dependent on the psychical structure of his/her immediate environment.
Imagine the world of a growing child who has access to a peaceful room, a personal table and chair, a timetable for the day and probably a computer and internet access to make do with some online resources. Imagine if every child has this access? Maybe not a computer, internet access or super-programmed timetables; at least a coordinated, oriented and peaceful surrounding! Then, think of a child growing in a violence-marked environment; an area where the role models proudly eulogize internet fraud over being educated; a society with poor educational infrastructures and gross unemployment! Ever wondered why most Nigerian students perform better in foreign universities than here?
It would be logical to assume that a child who grows and learn in a conducive environment would have a better experience and perception of education than a child who wakes up every morning in a totally disoriented environment. We are in a world of rural and urban settings; where the sub-urban comes as a hybrid. Can we really compare what these two settings have to offer to a child individually? The gap is inevitably wide. A child in our present day rural setting would barely have any imagination of educational activities beyond just going in the morning and coming back in the afternoon – that is if he even has the privilege of attending one. Based on awkward cultural and religious beliefs, most children have been denied the privilege to see the importance of education. A girl child in some parts of this country still nurtures great apathy towards education because of the cultural sentiments surrounding career and marriage.
How then can we bridge the gap? The best way education can be perceived right by anyone is through education itself. Efficient and long-term sensitization and mentorship focused on remodeling mindsets are important recipes especially for children who helplessly find themselves in adrift environmental settings. Parents are charged with the biggest responsibility of ensuring the milieu at home positively affects the child’s personality, perception and consequently, the attitude towards education. The physical environment in which teaching and learning takes place is important and need to be considered as a key factor in the educational process. More interactive and cogitate teaching methodologies should be adopted especially in socially challenged environments. It is also very crucial that teachers’ knowledge and attitudinal identity conform to the delivery of their duties. Essentially, infrastructural facilities that will foster the creation of a serene learning environment should be made available, especially in rural communities. Cultural beliefs should also be made more promising for all.
Children, irrespective of their backgrounds, status or settlement reserve the right to quality education that is not marred by negative environmental influences.
YATTIYR! Excellence for all!