Photo credit: lcdinternational.org
By Dennis Sangulukani Imaan.
In Malawi, Africa, a 5 year old kid is awaken by his mother to hurry up and go to school. He walks a journey of about 3 miles before he gets to school and worse still on an empty stomach. By the time he is at school, he is exhausted and not able to listen to his teacher. In class, he performs miserably and the best advice he ever gets is:"work hard, get a good grade and then you will get a good Job all will be history".
This is what I personally define as the assured way to Misery. So, What is Misery?
Misery is when you wake up every morning for over 20 years being told to go to a traditional school, work hard, get good grades, go to college with the hope that one day you will get a good paying job and all your problems will be history only to find out later that none of those things promised do not come easily and that you have to go back to school some few more years hoping that further investment into a masters is what will solve your dilemma.
This is a story of many young people in Malawi and the rest of Africa and all over the world. Malawi has a population of about 15 million people with only three public universities and an annual enrollment of less than 4,000 students per academic year. Out of more than 2,000 students graduating from universities in Malawi, less than 200 find jobs on annual basis. The rest of the groups goes back to farming with their families or few lucky fortuantes go back to school to get the Master degree, as if the BA was not enough.
In the 21st century, we must know better than ever that doing the same thing all over again and expecting a different result is what has been defined as being insane. Our education system can now be defined as an insane system. Every year, thousands of young people are graduating from primary schools and go to high schools; from high schools to colleges and universities and from there they are trying to make their way into what the years in school has programmed them to be their careers. Now the job market is congested. Every child today wants to become a doctor, a teacher, a bank manager, an engineer or an accountant (or in other words all the prestigious white color jobs). Our current education system leaves a lot to be desired. Its one ready answer state and closed approach to learning is not serving this generation and will not serve the next generation either. What the world is failing to accept is that what worked 10 years ago is no longer working today. What our parents needed in their school days was to outclass the people in their class and they were on their way to the next level and consequently got the jobs they wanted. But for this generation, we are now in a global competitive village. From this paradigm shift that is sweeping across the world led by the "Lost Generation", the society must learn to ask the question Why? And why Not?
Why should we still send our kids to traditional schools today?
The questions our generation must ask ourselves is, "what does it mean to educate a child and what are we teaching them? What is it that shapes us?" The culture we are born in, dictates to us a way of thinking and doing things which is enhanced by our education system. Our culture is what Tony Robbins called "a therapy culture". This means a mind-set that is common in us that we are our past. We hold on with a firm grip things that we think shaped us instead of focusing on what really shapes our future. (Our Imaginative Abilities)
Abraham Lincoln once said "Can any of us imagine better?" but, "Can we all do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
The creative use of our imagination is what we dearly need to solve these problems that we are facing. But imagination alone is not enough; we need human resources to add value to these imaginations. Sadly, our schools are very often busy educating young people out of their imaginative powers and abilities due to their rigidity and zero tolerance to independent thinking. What kids were meant to do naturally is what they are told is useless. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as knowledge, and must be highly valuable and be treated as the core of the education system.
If we all kept "the child in us", we could have prevent some of the challenges our parents have put us into and the school system has forced us to accept as a norm. What is true is that kids are not afraid to fail and they will always take a chance. But the moment we start judging them as correct or wrong and grading them as dull, average or brilliant, they start thinking that whatever they do will be judged. What we do know now is that if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.
Now looking at our education system, we discover that it is based solely on academic brilliance.This current system was invented to meet industrialism needs which have by far now been totally replaced by technological revolution and globalization. Most kids today are probably being steered away from things they enjoy and are passionate about, on the basis that they will never get a job doing that. One could wonder where those who followed this advice are now. The problem with many people being frustrated today is that they do not know their reason for being. So they simply exist and hate all the things they do.
In 2014 I don’t think we need to be surrounded by 4 walls to get knowledge; it is all over the place... it is in the air; at our fingertips. The 21st century thinking must be different from the 19th century way if we are to make meaningful changes in our societies and in our nations. It is therefore high time we reworked our education system and rethink our way of thinking. We need a total revolution. I will conclude by quoting Sir Ken Robinson who said:“We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we've talked about. And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. By the way we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it."
We will get nowhere further if there is still the standardized school test, a culture of one right answer and a society of comparisons. We know how to do this better as Generation Why and as Challengers, and it is high time we brought a total revolution within our education systems.
Further videos and reads:
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_r obinson_says_schools_kill_crea tivity.html
http://www.usatoday.com/story/ opinion/2014/01/05/public-scho ol-education-students-column/4 327857/
http://www.ted.com/talks/diana _laufenberg_3_ways_to_teach.ht ml
This article was originally published on ChallengeFuture
Dennis Imaan is a Global Citizen born and currently staying in Malawi. He loves to share his experiences and lessons with others. Travel, Tourism, Innovations, Media and Youth development are close to his heart.