Dr Eggman, PhD Zoology

The homework for my cousin’s son’s class was: ‘Draw five sea creatures’

My cousin showed it to me across the dining table with an expression on her face I couldn’t read. Her son was sitting in a chair next to her with only his head showing above the table. She got up, tightened her wrapper around her waist and went into the room.
She came back with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and started to write an angry letter to the teacher. She said, “Can you believe this nonsense? The boy is just three, he cannot name five sea creatures, you want him to draw them. That is how they just pack useless homework and give.”
She ranted about the standard of education, then expanded the complaint to include the decline of the country.

I took the workbook.
I drew a generic fish. I drew an octopus.
I drew a crab, then debated whether it was a sea creature since I only ever see them on the shore scurrying from the waves.
I erased the crab and scribbled a sea horse from memory.
I drew a dolphin (big fish with pointy head) and a whale (much bigger fish with flat head).
I reviewed the drawings, shook my head. The boy was looking at me with expectant eyes.

I got fresh paper and made a list of animals I could use instead.
– Squid (octopus with skinny legs and pointy head?)
– Lobster (too complicated)
– Shrimp (small lobster, just as complicated)
– Sea horse –> sea lion (Does this count as sea creature?)
– Sea anemone (what is this even?)
– Sea section (har-har, no. -_- Punfound.)
– Calamari (??)
– Kraken

I crumpled the paper. The boy was still staring. I stood up, picked up my bag. I said, “It’s getting late, I’m going home.”
My cousin looked at the clock, “But it’s just six.”
I didn’t look at her. I said, “I live far.”

In the middle of the night, I woke up to pee and texted her: “Turtle!”
She didn’t reply until the afternoon. “The teacher gave him four over ten on that assignment. He was crying. Thank you, uncle.”


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.

TT: pardon my English

I have never enjoyed school, not ever. Never ever.

When people talk about school and they have good stories, I wonder what planet these people grew up on and automatically we become enemies.

The sad part about it is, the same problems I had in school growing up, through nursery, primary, secondary, and even university. These same problems are the ones I had when I went back to teach as an adult.

I’m standing in front of my class. The children are making fun of my accent, making fun of my height, making snarky comments in slang and language I don’t understand, snickering to themselves, and throwing shit around behind my back.

It is 1985 again and I am the new student in a school in Lagos, fresh from Ibadan and I don’t speak English.
It is 1990 and I’m in Abeokuta. Emerging from a sheltered childhood thrust amongst people I don’t know and don’t understand.
It is 1997, in New Jersey. I’m nervous and I can’t stop speaking too fast. Everyone makes me repeat myself so I withdraw and stop talking.
Now, it is 2011, in front of the class in rural Kaduna. The students are mocking me in Hausa, someone has to interpret my instructions to the class and I’m wondering again why I volunteered for this.

I’m rushing home to tell my mom I don’t know how to deal with the kids in my class. Only this time, I don’t live at home anymore so I can’t sit at the dining table and toy with my food till she asks what’s wrong.

This time, I actually have to walk down the road through the haze of tears to buy phone credit to call her so I can bitch about my day.

So, no, I don’t like school.

And I’m one of those people who say we don’t support corporal punishment.

I don’t.
I don’t support beating children.

I will support teargassing an enclosed classroom and watch the students cough and sputter as they stagger out.
I will support a tidal wave decimating the assembly hall with the kids swimming for safety as their wet books float out through the open windows.
I will support failing all of JS 2 and making them repeat the year just cos I’m having a bad day.

But cane them? No o, never that.

grand collapse

You know how you look at a problem and you think, “Here is the solution”, but then you get into the situation and you see that there are just way too many other things going wrong there.

I teach Integrated Science in a school because they don’t have an Integrated Science teacher.

A teacher scarcity problem.

I take three JSS 2 classes, each class has about 60 students.
I found that majority of the students have a big problem in English. So even though I got the list of topics to teach, I can’t just teach those topics because some of the words are too big for the students. They can’t spell, a lot of them don’t know their dates of birth, some misspell their own names. I asked one guy to write out the alphabet, he missed two letters in capital and three letters in small. I’m not sure he knows they should match.

Maybe it’s a language problem

We finally make it through the school session and I set the questions for the final exam. During the exam, the principal kicks out half the students in the class saying they didn’t pay their school fees. (The school fees is about 900 naira, that is $6)

A money problem…

But that’s not a lot of money, so I think if I find serious students among that group, I’ll give them the money and let the students go back into the exam hall.

I go to meet the students outside, and I ask one of them if he paid his fees. He said he paid but they didn’t write his name down. It turns out they don’t get receipts or have a method for recording who pays. They just write their names in a notebook.
If the woman who collects the money didn’t write your name or says you didn’t pay, that is it for that term of school work.

A system problem

Now we have 90 students outside, over half of them are saying they paid but that the woman stole their money. They have no proof, so they are not allowed to take the exam.

And we repeat this again next year with the students slightly older.

That’s how every problem is, flaws at every level with no clear villains or solutions.
Even if you provided money for underprivileged children, what happens to everything else?