Cram it up your-

I went to a boarding school in Ogun state. It was horrible, I hated it. One of my ex-classmates still has nightmares about it. Imagine that, a grown man with a child, and he still wakes up screaming, shivering. Does he expect his wife to take a break from breastfeeding their baby to rock him back to sleep?

My cousin has two children now and they go to an unconventional school that is nothing like my school was. She mentioned that as part of their subjects, they have to take a tailoring class and a hair-dressing class. I thought that was pretty funny.
Tailoring? Har-har. Hair dressing? *snaps fingers over head* Not my child. How about some real education?

After I was done mocking them, I was going over the subjects I took, and I realized what a waste some of them were.

Like Further Mathematics. They sell it to you with a whole Engineering pitch, telling you that if you want to become an engineer, this is the type of math you need to know. Rubbish.
By the time you learn it at 13, it means nothing. Memorizing meaningless equations with no correlation to regular math doesn’t give a child a headstart to anywhere. You could replace Further Math with the study of Egyptian hieroglyphs and you’d get the same blank stares and pointless cramming that you’re getting now.

I also took Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK), and my beef with this one is a bit more tricky.
For us, it was compulsory that everyone attend church or mosque, three times a week: on Sundays during church hours, on Fridays during mosque hours, and on Wednesdays for a mid-week service. Each of these were independent of CRK class and lasted between two and five hours.

You could make the argument that the fellowship periods are for worship while the class periods are for objective study of religion. But if you tend towards the religious, then it makes sense that they be combined for one complete experience, while if you tend towards the secular, then it makes no sense to make them both compulsory.
It is one extra class that doesn’t count anywhere else in the world. Ouch, I know.

It has been clear for a long time that there aren’t enough jobs for everyone, but we are still shoveling students through our stale system, churning out drones. The government’s solution to this is to try to stem the flow of unemployment at the university level with one measly course in entrepreneurship.

It is one thing if our system doesn’t make us competitive globally. But it is even worse, if it doesn’t prepare us to be entrepreneurs locally.

You can sign me up to plait some hair.


7 thoughts on “Cram it up your-

  1. I want to meet someone who has had to use the almighty formula in his/her chosen career (and I mean someone who isn’t *drumroll* a frigging further math teacher!).

    Like you’re an engineer assembling a car at the Toyota factory and thinking about the bearing of the steering wheel and saying to yourself, ‘this doesn’t fit’, then you grab a pen and say, ‘let the driver’s seat be A, let the dashboard be B and let the wheel be C; okay minus B plus or minus the square root of B square minus 4 times A times C all over 2 times A’.
    There, finally, it fits. No more Toyota recalls on my watch.

    Ooor wait! *gasp* an ordinary GP in Johns Hopkins who went to Queens College Yaba (and beat me at the Cowbell National Mathematics Competition in year 2000) has found a cure for cancer by, wait for it, applying her mathematical-genius knowledge of differentiation to a mixture of the moringer plant, caustic soda and cheese!

    Oh yes, there’s also that further math prodigy from your secondary school who is the accountant that’s going to help JP Morgan turn around profits using permutation and combination.

    Our school system sucks!

    Please I need help taking out my braids.

  2. My husband went to boarding school in Ogun state also. He now buys and sells, years after agonising over Commerce and Book-keeping/accounting. If those helps, I don’t know but I know we can do without the aversion to dark corners…

    • Ogun state is not a dark corner. I’m sorry if that was implied in the write-up. My parents live in Ogun state and I spend a lot of time there. I have no beef with them (or any other part of the country.)
      BUT I have a problem with boarding school. I don’t think it is for everyone, actually, I don’t think it is for most people. We don’t have the necessary checks in place to ensure that our 9/10 year old children are safe in a strange place. (Telling Aunty Tola who works in the school cafeteria to keep an eye on your kid is not an adequate measure.) Boarding house is especially hard on small literary types. You can tell just by looking at them which children are going to have it rough. The children will be bullied, robbed, starved, molested (not necessarily in that order) and even in the rare occasion when the victims have someone they can report to, things don’t change much. The solution usually, is to pull out small kids who are “not suitable for boarding” but leave the big kids in there to fight it out. This isn’t Battle Royale or Hunger games.

      As far as subjects go, I definitely don’t think all subjects are useless. At last check, only 30% of our secondary school graduates passed both English and (regular) Math. If 70% of students have a problem just nailing the basics, then why are we furthering anything? It is like offering pharmacy classes to primary school students. What’s the point? If they’ll become pharmacists, they’ll learn it in Uni. You’re giving them advanced classes without offering a solid base.
      I know students that fail Math, but pass Further Math by cramming. You can ask them to solve e^2x using Laplace transforms, and they’ll spit the answer out. But put the question in words, three mangoes plus three mangoes, and their eyes glaze over as they fall into a deep trance.
      One of my students is taking English, Maths, Biology, Fine Art, CRK, Further Maths, Government, and Accounting. Admittedly, it is a slightly bizarre combination, but I don’t mind people doing random things as long as they find their passion. The question becomes, if she fails English and Maths, but passes CRK and Further Maths, will a tree fall in the forest and make a noise?

      Sorry if I’m ranting, but thanks for pointing this out, Buki. Thumbs up to Ogun and Accounting.

  3. it’s not so much the subjects, as it is the content and mode of teaching/learning. I have several examples:

    Geography: after the many maps we drew, and distances we measured as the crow flies…. can you: tell the east from west? measure a distance in miles/km? do you know: which country is in what time zone? or where Timbuktu is?

    English and literature: summaries. essays. Shakespeare. Achebe. Can you: distinguish singular from plural? past from present tense? will from would?

    Nigerian languages: can you now speak, write or read your language any better than you could, or anyone else’s?

    Maths and further maths : you can dy/dx, but can you say your 7,8 and 9 times tables?

    shorthand and typewriting: how’s that worked for you and your tablet, ipad and laptop lately?

    economics: demand is the willingness and ability to purchase a good or service at a given price (rote memorization). What were your economic reasons for opposing the fuel subsidy?

    biology: you can recite and show diagrams of the digestive, excretory, circulatory, respiratory, reproductive systems. but do you know why poo smells? or that a man is responsible for the Y chromosome that determines a child’s sex? or what side of your chest your heart is on?

    I could go on forever……….

    The education system needs an overhaul. And as for people who think we do okay when we go abroad, and therefore it must be fine: cramming does not equal learning. Harvard equals ivy league educated unless of course said graduate/teacher is female, Nigerian and affiliated with the NSE in some way.

    As for boarding school…..shudders….I HATED it.

    • +1’ed.
      Until the proposed education fix comes along, most of this work falls on the parents. It isn’t enough to be happy that your children are bringing home flawless report cards. You have to challenge them to learn where their book knowledge fits into the real world.
      Thanks for this, NoB.

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