As a university student, I gained a reputation for being rather clever, and the satisfactory nature of this reputation encouraged me to develop an even more satisfactory habit of imparting some of my versatile knowledge to friends and colleagues in the form tutorials. In the course of time, I had gained a wider reputation as a fine teacher and I soon got used to hearing complimentary remarks such as: “You teach very well! You ought to become a lecturer, someday!”
Since humans are generally shaped by expectations of society just as much as by their own personal choices, it wasn’t long before the ambition of being a university lecturer gradually settled in my thoughts as though I myself had originated the idea. Also, it was an easy ambition to aspire to: in those days, the qualifications required to be a university lecturer in Nigeria were a fairly simple matter—all you had to do was complete a first degree and then obtain a masters degree.
As I was well on the way to finalizing the first requirement, and the second being no more than one more year of the same, I was fairly confident that I would join the ranks of the academia very soon. I was so sure of this that I had already begun to stake out my own office in the staff rooms. I already had my class schedules figured out, my routine mapped mentally, and in keeping with my character as a young and naïve male—I could picture already the horde of admiring students of the feminine aspect. I was ready to be the archetypal Nigerian lecturer: lording it over enslaved students, my word would be law and my exam scores, final.
But the Nigerian Universities Commission was not so sympathetic to my career ambitions for, just before I left school, it became a requirement that university lecturers had to be possessed of a doctorate degree. I was quite puzzled by this idea: the logical connection between the ability to educate students and the possession of a certificate for having pursued a research thesis was—and still is—lost on me. And even then, I knew a number of lecturers who bore plain “Mister” but were absolutely brilliant and even more lecturers that had the now required “Doctor” and who, as the man on the street would put it, “couldn’t teach jack shit”.
But my armchair protest at this unnecessary requirement was in vain. And with that came the dampening realization that three to four more years of study would now be required before I was entitled to brandish my academic lecturing skills. It was quiet clear that the NUC had no urgent need for my services. It was also quiet clear that I couldn’t afford pursuing a doctorate degree right after school. In the end, I quietly pushed aside the ambitions to become a career teacher and took up a financially rewarding job instead, and without much ado, the ivory tower and I parted ways.
But along came the Internet, and that has made all the difference.
You see, back in school, the Internet was simply what you called the 30 minute long stare at the rolling icon of Internet Explorer over what was often a dial-up connection that taught you the patience of the gods. Emails and chats were the most interactive form of Internet usage, “Facebook” was just a typographical error to be underlined by MS Word, and blogs—if they existed back then—might as well have been located on the moons of Jupiter. But, as my professional life budded, and I became more aware of the other world that is the Internet proper, blogs gradually became A THING and soon, I found myself in possession of one. My first blog was a rudimentary package from Blogger that allowed me delusions of grandeur after seeing my name spread out on the Internet browser address bar.
But with great grandeur comes great responsibility: blogging was work and I worked at it. The perseverance paid off. And before long, the readership trickled into the thousands and the lecturing ambitions of my younger years were transmuted into a stream of steady articles for my readers. The Internet is a school, and the blog is my classroom—and I don’t even have to perform the grueling task of marking examination scripts. Of course, one comes across comments that make you want to take a stick to the reader, but even with those, the blogging experience is generally exciting.
I might go back to a classroom someday and oppress young students as originally planned, but for now, all the teaching I need to do—all over the world—can be done from my corner. With a click.
Ayo Sogunro is the author of The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales. A lawyer by profession, he also indulges in socio-legal philosophy on this blog. Interact with him on Twitter via @ayosogunro.
This article was originally published in the Decade Blog series on Akinblog, January 10, 2014.