Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Flawed Educators and Educated Fools

I hate chemistry. I would like to thank my first chemistry teacher, Mr. Anyigbah for instilling in me this incurable dislike for the subject.

We had just arrived in Secondary School with a lot of enthusiasm, too much confidence in our intelligence and the desire to stamp our authority on the class. Everyone was the most intelligent student from his previous school, or at least that's what they'd have us believe. There was one particular stubborn guy called Frank, everyone called him Fire (even the teachers). Right from the first day he established himself as a noise maker and trouble causer. While some students were learning 'non-sylla'*, Fire would be creating a scene and fall asleep the moment a teacher came in.

First Chemistry class and Mr Anyigbah was racing through the text books faster than our young minds could absorb. When we complained that he was going too fast, he laughed and just went on. Somewhere along the line he noticed Fire sleeping. He woke him up and asked him the most difficult question he could find for a first year. The half asleep Fire woke up, asked for the question to be repeated and uttered a bunch of what appeared to be gibberish and to our surprised, Mr. Anyigbah said, “Correct”. Wow! We those who were awake didn't even understand the question. This sleep and answer question session between Fire and Mr Anyigbah went on for a few week and it became obvious who was the most intelligent person in the class.

After that first class, Mr Anyigbah only asked Fire and no one else question. He would say something like, “If Fire understands, then the whole class understands”. If Fire didn't get the answer correct he would call Fire a stupid boy for intentionally getting the answer wrong and go on without explaining. Mr Anyigbah also took delight in caning us. He would set a test and say anyone one who scored below 70% would be caned. That usually meant 80% of the class. By the time we were through with first year, I absolutely loathed chemistry. 

I remember Mr. Anyigbah came to class one day and told us that the best students in the class will get a C in the SSCE then he started laughing hysterically. 

I later found out that in almost every public secondary school had their own version of Mr. Anyigbah, some 'qualified' teacher who took too much delight in frustrating students.

There are somethings no one is going to teach you in class. For example, if you are a computer Engineering student, no lecturer would teach you how to format a Hard-disk but everyone in the world expects you to know that. When you go for a job interview, the panel would ask you things you didn't learn in class but are expected to know. You somehow have to manage to find a balance with these thing. What I came to realize was, “the things that matter mostly don't count in the exams, and the things that count in the exam don't matter in life”.

In the university, I knew a third year computer Engineering student who couldn't partition her hard-disk and had to take it to a social science student to get it done. This said lady was one of the most intelligent student in her class. She wasn't peculiar in this predicament. She didn't seem bothered by this ignorance and didn't seem eager to learn how to.

While waiting for my turn for my job interview, I managed to get a sneak peek of the certificates of almost everyone who was there. My heart sunk. Not that I was a dumb guy but people had really impressive certificates and mine wasn't that great. When it was my turn to face the panel I placed my certificate on the table and the panel didn't bother looking at it. They just started firing questions. “What would you do in so so and so situation”. I got the job!! There was this particular guy who I was sure would get the job, he didn't. I was later told he performed so poorly that they didn't ask him the full range of questions before letting him go.

Our Education system, flawed educators and educated fools

*non-sylla - Topics that are not included in the syllabus but are studied by students to impress other students