One Thing I could Change to Improve Education in my Country

Reading culture is dying in Nigeria. A tiny number out of about 160 million
people have healthy reading habits institutionalised. Majority just enlist
into various schools. Many have graduated. They are all for the obtainment
of certificates. This habit is causing our country harm. Half-baked
educated people dot the streets. Reading of books isn’t taken seriously.
Against this backdrop, Nigeria needs a reading transformational initiative
campaign for individual’s personal knowledge. It is my desire that our
countrymen and women should engage, communicate and learn. Personal
knowledge, not schooling, is the only thing that can make our today count
and have a firm grip of the future.

Sidney Davis, a scholar from Kittery Point, Maine, saw reading as the
utmost, saying that true education teaches HOW to critically think, not
WHAT to think, it consists mainly of what we need to unlearn and not so
much what we learn, it is not to worship at the altar of what is known, but
to question it. Napoleon Hill added in his book – Think And Grow Rich –
that an educated man is not, necessarily, one who has an abundance of
general or specialized knowledge. An educated man is one who has so
developed the faculties of his mind…

Hill had said so before Nelson Mandela, who was the first African to be the
president of his native country of South-Africa, in the aftermath of a
racial apartheid in which some Europeans imposed on South Africa that
started from 1948 and ended in 1991, said, “Education is the most powerful
weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Many see Mandela’s statement to mean schooling, but this is wrong. Twenty
seven years in an apartheid jail did not limit his education. Hill was
right. What people go to school to do is to acquire “specialized
knowledge”, which invariably is called ‘indoctrination’, without actually
being educated. Unlike in schooling, education has no daily curriculum to
follow. Education improved as the communities developed, which later became
the stand for schooling to spring up. Sidney Davis was right.

It is this ‘indoctrination’ that makes a professor of a faculty in a
university to be grounded in a course, yet, is financially poor. This is
not the same with an educated person. He or she has every tendency of going
beyond limitation to do the unlimited. So, an educated person has a very
strong intuition and imagination, which know no bounds. A schooled person
only knows the intimation he or she has gotten through schooling.

Education is an awakener. School only teaches. The power of education can
make one do what a schooled person cannot. Robert Frost, a renowned poet,
who was born in 1874 and lived until 1963, said: “Education is the ability
to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your
self-confidence.” Education does not indoctrinate, but what many people
erroneously refer to as education is schooling.

What we have in schooling that we call education are combinations of
cultures, which have brought the world much narrow-mindedness. Education
does not harm. Schooling is a formation of methodological ideas transferred
from one generation to another. One who went through schooling yet, might
not have educated him or herself, thoughts, judgments and so on. This is
why a medical doctor is not even schooled where an engineer is. Whereas
there are people who were not opportune to go through what is known today
as formal-schooling, yet, they are grounded in their native wisdoms, arts
and sciences. This is natural and unpolluted. They live in peace and are
not detrimental to nature, which our school acquisitions loathe and treat
like viruses.

Henry Ford was regarded as one of America’s foremost industrialists, who
revolutionized assembly-line modes of production for the automobile. He
lived between July 30, 1863 to April 07, 1947. According to Napoleon Hill,
Ford never believed in a “general” or “specialized” knowledge to make
history in engineering, having barely gone through formal-schooling. But he
exhibited the power of an educated person.

Hill tells us that Ford brought a suit against a Chicago newspaper which
called Ford “an ignorant pacifist” in its editorials during the World War.
Upon knowing that he was not (well) formally-schooled, Ford objected the
statement. The lawyers who were handling the matter thought that Ford was
an uneducated fellow by using logical questions thinking they could
intimidate him, but they failed. The questions are: “Who was Benedict
Arnold?” and “How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put
down the Rebellion of 1776?” Ford replied in answer to the last question,
“I do not know the exact number of soldiers the British sent over, but I
have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back.”

However, becoming bored of this line of questioning, Ford used the
“education” (not schooling) he had deposited in himself and asked the
lawyer who was troubling him with the questions. Reportedly, Ford said: “If
I should really WANT to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or
any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that
I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right
button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer ANY question I desire to
ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts. Now,
will you kindly tell me, WHY I should clutter up my mind with general
knowledge, for the purpose of being able to answer questions, when I have
men around me who can supply any knowledge I require?”

Hill says that the answer floored the lawyer. Every person in the courtroom
realized it was the answer, not of an ignorant man, but of a man of
EDUCATION, hence the maxim: “Any man is educated who knows where to get
knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into
definite plans of action. Through the assistance of his “Master Mind”
group, Henry Ford had at his command all the specialized knowledge he
needed to enable him to become one of the wealthiest men in America. It was
not essential that he had this knowledge in his own mind. Surely no person
who has sufficient inclination and intelligence…”

Hill hinges his point concerning Ford’s knack, saying: “The faculties of
the great universities possess, in the aggregate, practically every form of
general knowledge known to civilization. Most of the professors have but
little or no money. They specialize on teaching knowledge, but they do not
specialize on the organization, or the use of knowledge.”

Ford was one man who put “personal knowledge” into action. He put the real
meaning of the word “educate”, which was derived from the Latin word
“educo,” meaning to educe, to draw out, to ‘develop within’, into action.
Like Ford, according to Forbes periodicals of August 23 2011, there are
over 400 self-made billionaires on the “Forbes 400 Richest Americans List”,
who did not go to college. This has pushed people into asking if
formal-schooling is necessary.

It is indispensable to make it clear that being educated should not be
misconstrued as having fulfilled an obligation in a formal informative
regulation like colleges and universities for a detailed period. This could
be called enlightenment, but, yet, the person who had undergone through
this enlightenment only got a precise ground of study, which does not
espouse education in generality. In clarity, while education is developing
self through both specified and unspecified means, the Webster’s dictionary
has this to say about schooling: It is the process of being taught, such as
in a school…

Having sa

id that, it is vital we see those who did not go to school but
embraced other forms of enlightenment as educated persons. They also grow
as those who went to school grow in invention and expand in their knowledge
as the knowledge of those who went to school expands. Education should not
be limited only to the acquiring of basic skills of history, geography,
religion, social studies, music, sciences, philosophies, and arts or
mathematics, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and many other disciplines.
No. Education is more to these.

We must not forget that our forbears did not have formal-schooling, but
lived and operated their environment systematically to soothe them. It was
from their system that the modelling of formal-schooling began, without a
definite date. Writing may be termed the origin of formal schooling; but
languages, learning processes were in existence. The later were found in
oral traditions of peoples. It’s important we begin to seek for knowledge,
as if we want to die today. The more we desire this, the more places and
things we know. We must change the misleading mentality of schooling, which
is constraining us from gaining education. Through education, we know
better and do better.

(This essay was Shortlisted for the NUHA Adult Blogging Prize 2013)

Written by
Odimegwu Onwumere
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