THE PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS IN THE TEACHING AND LEARNING OF LITERATURE-IN-ENGLISH (A STUDY OF SELECTED SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN OSE LOCAL GOVERNMENT, AREA OF ONDO STATE)
Background to the Study
Literature-in-English is one of the vital subjects of study in the Nigerian senior Secondary Schools. Literature-in-English as a key school subject which refers also to the study books of art such as drama, prose and poetry which are the genres of literature which authors create, so as to improve their skills in the English Language (De Naplis, 2002). The National Policy on Education (2004) confirms the importance of Literature-in-English in Nigeria. It is listed as one of the core subjects which are made compulsory for all secondary school students in both the junior and senior secondary school classes, though not yet implemented in many states of the nation. Also, students who want to offer courses like law, Mass Communication, English and Theatre arts must pass Literature-in-English at credit level in Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE) to gain admission into any Nigerian Tertiary Institutions. Examination (SSCE). Although, there is ‘ inconsistent rise in the percentage of credit passes from 1999 — 2011 in the WAEC SSCE results for a period of 13 years, the rise remained below 50% of the total population of students who obtained their results at credit level.
Many factors have been identified to be responsible for the poor state of students’ performance in Literature-in-English which include: student’s negative attitude to reading, poor methods of teaching, poor reading habit, students’ low language proficiency among others (Lawal, 2000; Ogunnaike, 2002; Ezeokoli, 2002). To buttress these research findings, evidences from the WAEC Examiners Reports for the May/June 2007 and 2008 revealed that students rarely read the prescribed texts because of their negative attitude to reading and poor linguistic background.
Besides students’ poor performance in literature-in-English which has always been a major justification for researchers’ investigation, one needs to consider closely the global effect of inadequate teaching and learning of literature-in-English on the society itself. It should be noted that the students poor performance in literature is against actualizing the aims and objectives of teaching literature-in-English in the senior secondary schools and also the philosophy of Nigeria on education as stated in the National Policy on Education (2004).
Also, there are several cases of moral decadence resulting from the decline of moral and cultural values that the effective teaching and learning of literature- in-English inculcates in the society. Literature-in-English used to be a tool for promoting the moral values of respect for elders, faithfulness, endurance, honesty, unity, love, commitment, humility, perseverance and hardwork these are all declining very fast. As students were not able to actualize the values of teaching literature-in-English that would have given a good orientation for useful living in the society. The inability to actualize the aims and objective of teaching and learning literature-in-English and that of fulfilling the goals of Nigerian philosophy on education deprives the nation of cultural growth and development. No wonder there are many cases of moral decadence all around in the country among youths and adults. This informs the situation of injustice, lack of peace and unity, corruption, bribery, greed, cultural stagnation and professional declination in occupations like law, journalism and language teaching (Gol-Ischall, 2001). A major problem of education has been identified as students’ low interest in reading. It is very difficult to talk about literature-in-English teaching and learning without thinking of reading as a tool for enhancing good achievement in literature-in-English. Kolawole (2009) affirms that if nothing is done to improve the low reading interest of students in the secondary schools, students will soon get frustrated and lose sight of the benefits of good reading habits. It is important that scholars in literature-in-English and all other stakeholders in education rise up to find solution to the declining situation of the study of literature-in-English in Nigeria, considering its scope that covers all works of arts from different parts of the country and in fact many parts of the world: African, Europe, America and lots more.
Students’ achievements at any level of education depend largely on the availability of certain factors that could influence their effective learning of the subject matter or the content of what is to be learnt. Students’ achievement orientation could be improved through several approaches that involve participatory activities with students’ literary text and learning outcomes (De Naplis, 2002). They believe that the warm spirits in which information and communicated through participation in various literary activities spur the learner’s aspiration in the teaching and learning process. All that is done in the classroom has various ways of aiding or hindering the students in their quest to achieve and learn. On this premise, Cooke (2002) and Adebile (2011) opine that the students’ individual worth and genuine could be practically exemplified/or identified though activity - based lessons and students’ participation in literary club activities. This gives room for competition, collaboration and cooperation at appropriate times during the literary activities which will help to channel emotions away from disruptive behaviour into constructive relation.
Most importantly, teachers’ leading role in students’ participation in literary club activities is of vital importance. By guiding the students to correct their errors or misconception in order to elaborate upon, expand, explain and expatiate what they have just said, he/she is laying a firm foundation for students’ aspiration and achievement. This will boost their ego rather than deflate and lower their self-concept. This is likely to result in a fairly consistent and frequent dramatic all-out performance of homogeneous conditions and may also enhance the emotional security of some lowly or highly brilliant students (Adebile, 2011).
However, the teaching of literature-in-English in Nigeria should not be limited to an analysis of the linguistic element of the text or mere narration of the story’ for the purpose of answering examination questions, it should be taught and learnt for the sake of literature-in-English itself; as an art worthy of appreciation (Ayanniyi, 2009). Hence dynamic teachers who are suitably equipped with a broad spectrum of reflective cognition, intellectual vision and managerial dexterity are tending towards contemporary approaches (Oyekan, 2006). Considering the contemporary pedagogical approaches to literature-in-English which are mostly activity-based; teachers are expected to explicitly allow students’ participation in literary activities that are relevant to the teaching and learning of literature-in-English, such that will help them take ownership of their learning and improve their learning outcomes. This justifies the use of literary activities: which include drama club and readers’ club activities as predicators of students learning outcomes in literature-in-English. Olatunji et al. (2003) describes literary activities as school based statutory clubs that the societies generally referred to as “co-curricular activities”. He further explains that they are integral pails of the school diversified curriculum content such as press club, farmers club, science club, drama club, literary and debating society, readers’ club, poetry participation in literary club activities is not well related to the teaching of literature-in-English by many scholars.
Language educators and scholars in literature such as Ajimuda (2008), Yisa (2009), Amokeodo (2012), and Owoeye (2009) believe that students must be intellectually engaged and actively involved in the learning activities and that conventional mode of instruction is failing to provide this engagement in a situation where teachers transmit knowledge students who sit passively in the classroom and listen. Teachers can meet these complementary goals by focusing on remedies that make content relevant to the intended audience, increasing student-student interaction in and outside the classroom and encouraging conceptual understanding rather than rote memorization of facts (Afolabi, 2008).
Reading literature is generally included in the language curricula of both primary and secondary education. It is especially part of the Language(s) of School Education. A separate consideration of literature across the curriculum does not seem appropriate despite the fact that literature may sometimes serve as a source for dealing with specific problems in ethics, religious studies or history, especially with younger students. These phenomena seem rather isolated and are usually not formalised through curricula.
Students´ attitude towards a subject is an important achievement in that subject. Olaboopo, 1999; Ayanniyi, 2009; Odiaka, 2002; Ogunnaike, 2002; and Maduabuchi, 2008 have found that the attitude exhibited by learners towards the learning process determine the importance students attached to that learning process and what they will gain from learning situation. In line with the above, it is assumed that learners´ motivation to read a given literary text and to get engaged in literary activities is influenced by the feelings and dispositions the hold about such literary activities may obviously lead to a change in their cognitive development and learning outcome in literature-in-English.
Statement of the Problem
In view of the crucial role literature-in-English plays as a school subject in the senior secondary schools, students’ low level of achievement in and attitude towards the subject are the order of the day. This has been a source of concern to parents, teachers, government and other stakeholders in the education of the child. The need to improve students’ achievement and sustain students’ positive attitude towards the subject has long been a topic of popular and academic interest in Nigeria. Several efforts by researchers in literature-in-English to provide solutions to this problem have been concentrated on providing effective instructional strategies. Yet, these have not brought about significant improvement in the teaching and learning of literature-in-English in Nigeria. Besides, there is a decline in the moral values which the teaching and learning of literature-in-English is supposed to inculcate in the learners and society at large. This might be due to the fact that strategies experimented with involved regimented classroom situations with its attendant treatment of learners as passive learners. Scholars have therefore advocated the adoption of informal instruction through utilization of school literary clubs activities as a platform for promoting teaching and learning of literature. Therefore, this study investigated the relationship between students’ participation in literary club activities their achievement in and attitude to literature-in-English in selected senior secondary schools in Ondo State.
Purpose of the Study
In other to carry out this researcher work the following objectives were listed out:
i. To identify students ability and learning styles in literature in English.
ii. To know the curriculum structured and form that should be implemented in the teaching of literature
iii. To know the teaching materials or aids to be use in teaching literature in English.
iv. To know the quality and availability of teaching personnel in the teaching of literature in English in secondary school.
Significance of the study
It is expected that findings from this study would provide relevant information on the usefulness of school literary activities, as it is related to literature-in-English in the secondary schools. The result of this study would provide a data base for evaluating the use of literary activities as a means of improving achievement in literature-in-English teaching and learning.
Hopefully, findings from this study will be of immense benefits to students and teachers of literature-in-English, curriculum planners, language educators, policy makers and all stakeholders in the teaching of literature-in-English in a second language situation.
Specifically, the study would give teachers insight into innovative approaches through students’ participation in literary activities that promote students’ interest in learning literature-in-English and their achievement in it as well. The study would help teachers not only to encourage students to participate in literary activities, but would be able to link school-based literary activities with effective teaching of literature-in-English and use these to improve student’s achievement in literature-in-English. The result emanating from this study would provide basis for planning other school-based literary activities in schools and also help to include such activities among the pool of helpful teaching and learning activities for implementing the literature-in-English curriculum for the senior secondary school education in Nigeria.
Scope of the Study
This study will not digress from its main purpose which the problems and prospects in the teaching and learning of literature-in-English students who offer literature in English as a subject in secondary schools in Ose Local Government, Area of Ondo State will be used as respondent for easy analysis of data. This will reduce cost and avoid complexity that may arise as a result of having a very large population. But since in most cases the characteristics of students are generally similar, the research findings would be generalized to include all students of secondary school in Nigeria.
i. How adequate are English Language textbooks for secondary schools on teaching English tenses?
ii. Do English Language teachers at secondary school, support supplement what English textbooks offer on tenses?
iii. Are English language teachers at secondary school aware of the inadequate information on tenses offered in English language textbooks for secondary school?
iv. Are English teachers at secondary schools aware that student’s common mistakes in essay writing are largely wrong use of tenses?
Literature-in-English: The discipline that studies the English language and literature.
Teaching: Is a process of impact knowledge to or instruct someone in how to do something, especially in a school or part of a recognized programme.
Learning: Is a knowledge or skill acquired through experience or study or by being taught.
Prospects: The possibility of future success.
Literature: Is a written works, especially those regarded as having artistic merit.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
This chapter reviews the related literature for this study under the following sub-topics:
v Concept of Literature-in-English
v Literature-in-English and its Indispensable Role
v Reasons for the study of Literature-in-English
v Teaching Literature-in-English in Nigerian secondary schools
v Problems of teaching and learning Literature-in-English
v Approaches to solve the Problem of Teaching and Learning Literature-in-English
v Summary of Literature Review