When we hear the word technology, most think about the latest phones, apps, and social networks that become popular in the recent years. For visiting Rooney Scholar Dr. Blessing Adeoye, technology is much more than the latest trends-it represents the future in education. Before he could realize the vast opportunities technology brings, however, he had to learn his own identity.
With a unique name like Blessing, many people have asked Dr. Adeoye how he got his name, and he loves to tell the story. Truly a blessing to his family, he represented a miracle for his parents-a second child. In Nigeria, parents will name their children after what is happening either in the country or in their personal lives. After a few premature deaths of their children and heartbreak, Dr. Blessing’s older sister, Hope, was born. She represented the hope that their parents always had that someday they would have children. Two years later, Blessing was brought into this world.
“I became a blessing to the existing hope, a blessing to the family.” said Adeoye, “I grew up to know that I am a blessing. That means wherever I go, I have to go along with the blessings. Every opportunity that I do have to make contact with the people, within the classroom, the church, the community, I have no other choice but to bless them. That is how I live up to the name.”
As an educator, Adeoye lives to do just that. He strives to bless his students, friends, and people he meets with knowledge. As a young boy, he had a strong desire to teach others and held his teachers to one of the highest levels of respect- besides his parents and next to God. However, it wasn’t until finishing his undergraduate and masters programs that the desire to teach came back. Finding himself using every opportunity he got to teach others, he finally realized what his true calling was.
“It felt like I found something in me that was lost and I was able to grab that and establish and build on it,” said Adeoye.
For Adeoye, one of the greatest joys for him is when he sees his students beginning to do well and realizing their full potential. If he is able to teach someone that eventually goes on in life to become a governor, or a commissioner, that is contribution enough for him.
“It is one of the things that I look at as a teacher. I am sewing a seed of something I am going to reap in the future. A teacher is a farmer, that’s how I look at it. I am not sewing crops, I am sewing knowledge. This kind of thinking motivates me, it makes me happy to be a teacher because I know I am just investing in others lives.” said Adeoye.
However, Adeoye assures teaching is not just a walk in the park. There are many challenges he faces as a teacher and his time spent listening in on courses offered here at RMU has made him realize that even more. One thing that Dr. Blessing finds difficult is, as a teacher, he is unable to reach out to every single one of his students. In a class he teaches in Nigeria, he teaches about 1000 undergraduate students.
“It breaks my heart, not being able to reach out to all of the students. You cannot touch every students lives; I would love to be able to reach out to them one by one, but I can’t,” said Adeoye.
He also sees that being a student can be challenging-in some cases the resources might not be enough, a student might need special attention, and there is no way he will know because of the population.
One thing that always helps Dr. Adeoye when teaching is simply preparation. He finds it helps for him to prepare for his lessons so he can deliver the lesson effectively and all students in the classroom can understand and learn from the material.
“As a teacher, I must know the information, I must know how to direct you. I must know how to take control of the atmosphere,” said Adeoye.
With as fast as technology is growing and all the great things that come from it, it can also interfere with that atmosphere. One challenge that Dr. Adeoye has noticed recently is the growing distraction of technology.
Some downfalls that Dr. Adeoye is noticing is students being distracted by Facebook, students cheating on tests and texting each other the answers or even individuals getting into trouble for meeting up with young girls online. Dr. Adeoye fears these negativities will only increase in popularity as emerging technologies come out. One way he suggests to combat this is to take a vacation from technology every once in awhile. He notes that it is also important for teachers to monitor their students and take control of the atmosphere in the room.
Considering all the downfalls of technology, it continues to do amazing things and one of these is the ability to collaborate with people from every walk of life. The one way for us to truly be able to collaborate, something Dr. Adeoye holds to a high stander, and is by understanding other cultures. Overcoming our cultural differences can be very difficult, it is hard to get out of our own comfort zones, but Dr. Blessing encourages students to start doing this now. He recommends traveling, for starters.
“One of the things that I see that is really good that this university is doing and is very important is traveling. Traveling is a part of education. You begin to see that people talk differently, people dress differently, people eat different things, people behave differently. And until you get out of your comfort zone, there is no way you can learn so much about another culture,” said Dr. Adeoye, “What I believe we need to do is we need to try and understand each other’s language, even if we don’t learn it all. We need to tolerate one another, to be able to listen very well to understand where someone is coming from, so we don’t become judgmental in our thinking.”