PEOPLE everywhere desire to get learned. A learned person has a lot of potentials. Ideas are communicated through speaking, reading and writing. Skills are acquired by learning. Whether ancient or modern, skills are exhibited in building construction, road construction, sewing, cooking, and farming.
Certain modern fields especially require skills. These are learned in school. They include secretarial work, engineering, law, architecture, medicine, management, hotel catering etc. Along with specialization, education has not only produced so many things essential in living, they are produced in mass to satisfy earth’s teeming human population.
Science in particular has brought about so many innovations that could not even be imagined in not too distant past. Just think of the aeroplane, automobiles, radio, TV and internet. Interestingly, these products can make life easier and more enjoyable.
Incidentally, the usage of some of these products sometimes turns sour. Accidents have arisen in production plants, transport service and kitchen appliances killing users and leaving others maimed.
But that is not the whole story. A whole lot of years are spent in acquiring formal education. Counting from the nursery school to tertiary school, about 20 years can be spent in acquiring but one trade. Thankfully, those who acquire those trades can be fed therefrom for the rest of their lives. Notice however, that during all these long years, children are no more taught anything else apart from a few house chores. Compare a computer that is specialised to do a single job to the many capabilities of the human brain. Hence even when someone is specialised in but only one discipline, he is being under-utilised. Also, a machine can work only till the end of its lifetime and run into disuse at which time it can at best be recycled. Hence what happens to an adolescent that has newly acquired his education and incidentally dies? All the hard work of parents, guardians or sponsors runs in vain.
Another sad outcome occurs when one eventually finishes school but faces the phenomenon called lack of job. It is an anomaly for one to desire to work but finds nothing doing. On the contrary, it is lazy people that find work to do but prefer to stay idle. The city encourages sedentary lifestyle and the whole world has turned into a city, with former villages possessing all the amenities that were formerly found in cities, reducing or eliminating vacant lands and forests. Agriculture is gradually going into the trade of only those specialised in it.
An unwitting defect in modern learning is competition. Competition tends to bring out the best in you, saps your strength and boosts your ego without using your best to benefit the society. Whether you are joyful when you excel or you cry when others are ahead of you, that is self defeating. The ego is carried on into the business world as greed from which spring so many vices, hence the present decline in group values prevalent in modern society. Therefore, competition is a moral defect that leads to physical defect. Success in education can be rated without necessarily comparing students with one another. Talents differ and pitting humans against one another is unloving.
Specialisation and division of labour encourages fraud and corruption. How so? When a person learns only one trade, and is ignorant of what is obtainable in other fields, he can be easily cheated or swindled without room for justice. This creates a cycle in which before one can succeed, he will be induced to cheat others.
The question is: How can all the advantages afforded by modern education be utilised and at the same time minimise the problems that it has brought to the fore?
At birth, humans are, under normal circumstances, endowed with those who love them and are prepared to take care of them and train them. Parents are the ones who decide to have a child, no other persons do it for them. It goes without saying, therefore, that they are the ones who have contracted to nurture and take care of the child till adulthood.
There is no better place for children to acquire training in skills than at home. Fortunately, before a child is born, most parents already have skills. Parents can start by transferring these skills to their children, which work they can do most conveniently. Nobody can replace parents in doing this or do it as well.
Many modern parents in southern part of Nigeria have acquired education no less that secondary school education. Yet they lack the intuition to transmit this to their children. They are contented with sending their children to other people, the pupils’ teachers, to do the teaching for them, no matter whether they are total strangers. Sometimes, they find out that the children have acquired behaviours they do not approve of. These behaviours may be transmitted to the children for the parents by the teachers as well as other equally inexperienced children, their peers.
Parents should take caring for their offspring seriously. Even if they find it inevitable to pay someone to help them do it, they should closely monitor what is being taught their children. Parents should be prepared to make sacrifices to bequeath their children profitable education.
Secondly, modern education offers so many opportunities only if these can be utilised. In olden communities, the same person had to practice the different farming techniques, building techniques, cooking techniques and all the other techniques. Children in modern society can be prepared in life by learning all the different artisan trades even before they finish secondary education. As noted before, they have all the time. This will enrich their lives and smoothen out all the disadvantages of specialisation and division of labour.
The application of the two recommendations above can ensure productivity as well as check modern day decline in morals. No doubt it will minimise or eliminate unemployment, a stigma. It can also check youths’ restiveness.
A third approach is government intervention. But this may not be left to the government alone. Those who have the means or experience to do so can establish vocational centres where job as an artisan can be learned. The school itself can do it after school hours and during holidays. Hence instead of the current practice in some schools for children to spend entire day in school, from classes to lesson, without necessarily doing better, the time can be spent teaching them to learn jobs that they will use in later life.
Fourthly, time spent in school is deemed too much. The reason for this is not far fetched. The minds of children, say less than 7 years, are not prepared unlike those older than them. To make the system more complicated, many things are taught during the otherwise long school years that are not made use of in one’s lifetime and are forgotten. The curriculum can be shortened without affecting quality of education. The curriculum of elementary 1-3 can be shortened to one academic year; the curriculum of elementary 4-6 can be shortened to another academic year. Likewise, secondary school can be shortened to 2 or 3 simple academic years. Something similar goes for tertiary school. Hence the school system will become simpler and less expensive.
As school resumes throughout Nigeria, last week and this week, for primary and secondary schools, and henceforth for tertiary schools, parents should take their roles seriously and not assume that relinquishing them will be better.
Meanwhile, another happy year of activity awaits the pupils and students. For parents, children and other students, it is more shoulders to your elbow.
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