My Student, My Teacher (II)/

The first part of this story showed how I planned to embark on computer training years ago with a most unlikely tutor, my student Emmanuel Okwara.

This final segment describes my experiences on that adventure. Endeavour to read both segments to get the full picture of this somewhat hilarious tale.

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When the computer lessons began, I pitied Emma because I gave him nothing to build on. And I seemed rather dense in the early days, being in an unfamiliar territory and all that. But he patiently explained everything as often as I asked him to. I wanted to write stuff down and although it amused him, knowing I'd soon be conversant with those rudimentary steps I was documenting, he opted to do the writing for me.

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He had initially tried to give me the history of computers and explain how they work. Some of it I could grasp. But that binary (01) stuff. He completely lost me on that one. I told him to focus on the hands-on stuff. I could read those ones up if I ever needed to.

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An ill-mannered youth would have begun to despise me on the basis of those encounters or ignore my lectures but Emma was smart enough to know that inability to operate a computer or snap up the workings of binary mathematics didn't mean I was an idiot. His respect for me did not diminish and he paid good attention in my courses.

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He did his best to impress me and when those efforts yielded a "B", he sought to know why. I explained that perhaps, because of his natural science inclination, his answers were sometimes sketchy. He seemed to think that if he provided the bare bones, it should be obvious to whoever was reading that he knew the rest. I told him it didn't work that way. If the question required explanation or discussion and you treated it in a cursory manner, you got less marks than those who supplied more detailed answers, hence the "B". He picked that advice up because he had no interest in "B's". He wanted only "A's". That may explain why his final Grade Point Average was just .09 shy of first class.

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Since Emma was coming over to the house frequently to give me lessons, my "daughter" and I decided that the least we could do would be to offer him dinner whenever he came. Due to the "fatness" of my purse, the non-vegetable protein on the menu was usually ice fish. One day towards the end of the classes, Emma joked that with the amount of ice fish he'd eaten in my house, he would probably not touch the stuff again for the rest of his life. I believe I cuffed him on the head for that.

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He was disappointed when I refused to go beyond basic word processing to master the whole Microsoft Office package or venture into designs with apps like CorelDraw and Pagemaker. I told him to be content that he had succeeded in teaching an old dog some new tricks but that he shouldn't push his luck. I needed time to feel at home with what I'd learned before piling on new stuff before I regurgitated everything or got submerged in it.

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But by God's grace, because of the solid foundation I got from those lessons, I've been able to figure out whatever else I needed along the way. I may be far from a geek but I know my way around what is useful to me, especially with the apps being user-friendly to everyone that is computer-literate.

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So when I surf the net for research, to keep abreast of current events, to fill out students' recommendation forms or for entertainment; when I type my academic papers and prepare the slides or compose articles and design illustrations for my blog and other media; I remember that this whole journey began then: when a certain young man who insists to those who err that his middle name "is Udo, not Udonna, not Udochi or Udo anything else but simply Udo," graciously offered to teach his teacher how to use the computer. Glory to God!

-The end-

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Edith Ohaja is a Senior Lecturer at the Mass Communication Department, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She blogs at edithohaja.com.


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