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“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.”
Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Leo was an advertising executive who helped many companies sell their products to the world. He helped consumer as well discover products they may otherwise not have known without his creativity. He was essentially an asset to the world, left behind a company that became the 10th biggest advertising company in the world and he had great influence. The pressing question of this article is, what kind of education produces these kind of people?
I strongly believe every child born to any society is very innocent. One of America’s finest Congregationalist theologian, editor and author, Lyman Abbott, puts it this way, Every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice.”  A person of virtue or vice is therefore not a product of chance but has become what he/she has been taught in innocence. Education takes advantage of  innocence, cultivates  and heightens curiosity and produces philosophies and patterns that becomes the foundation on which experience, exposure and further learning are strengthened as one goes through the course of life. 

In Africa, we leave a lot of things to chance. Educator presume, at least by my experience, that traits of creativity and productivity are inborn and therefore have no clear structure to make children curious or to productively engage their innocence. The worse part is that, curious children are taught to shut-up and swallow as it may be given. Reasoning, brainstorming, task-finding, debating and problem solutions have very little attention in our current system. The educational structure emphasize a dependency mindset and robs the schooled of the blessing of finding knowledge and the beauty to make it useful to society.
We are good at teaching all the things that are impossible, all the things that should not be done, all the limitations and reasons why children can’t and shouldn’t think differently,  or dare to do things differently. The philosophy I guess is, if the preceding generation couldn’t do it, who are you to think you can do it? Children who pursue to do and stay curious are branded, ‘Too Known’ and deprived of their gifts they have to offer. So what kind of education produces, social assets? It should be:
  1.  One that establishes ‘The Why to Know as much the What to Know and the How to Know’: The driving questions of the innocent is Why? What? and How? The need to know I believe is founded on the truth of innocence. If someone realizes how little they know what they ought to know. They begin to learn the how if the why’s are compelling enough. This is a sure gateway to be educated. Anytime these three fundamental questions are not well answered, one is sure to be ill-educated about a subject.
  2. One that fans Curiosity and Interest: You can only educate someone to the level of his/her interest you can sustain and how thought-provoking you can engage them. Sustaining interest and allowing for participation is education. Questions best solicit answers, so education teaches the arts of asking question and finding the solutions satisfactorily even through experimentation if need be. Proper education keeps the educated always wanting to know more because it teaches the first basic lesson of life- always stay hungry to know for that is the sure way to know!
  3. One that target the Whole Person: Educating the mind, without the heart and hand is a deficiency. Producing a social asset is deliberate. It engages the whole man (We will consider this into details in our next article), but before then, the question is how well targeted are the lesson been taught?
  4. One that the lessons taught does not end in the classroom but only begins there: The true essence of education is not the classroom but the real world. If a student after a lesson cannot relate it to any thing in the real world  then the lesson should not have been taught at all. Route learning is not the point of education. These facts and equations can always be verified with a click of a button. It is how well this memory learning can be adopted to the real world that matters.

 It is not per chance that Harvard University has some of the well-known and prestigious alumni in the world, neither is it be lack that Yale produces some of the best graduates in the world. The Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford students are produced deliberately. Their innocence are engaged productively and they are taught to be curious and to think!

I guess it is time we woke up from our stupor and taught ourselves to great gains. It is time for the African to be educated not only schooled. The light of renaissance shines and we must therein bask, bathing in such for an enlightened mind, strong hearts and mighty hands.

Long Live Africa!

Yaw Sompa

Author Yaw Sompa

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