Debunking colonial education

Debunking colonial education

It was years ago when one learnt of the danger of using dog ears to mark a page. The reality is that this method of marking pages is harmful to the actual volume being read, for there are now markers of various sorts available on the mainstream book and wish-card markets. Dog ears, licking fingers to turn the page, marking lines special to the reader by underlining or highlighting passages meaningful to the reader, and such other practices of this particular ilk of reader are in frank terms plain selfish.

The volume one reads carries not one meaning for the reader that comes across it and whoever so finds that they should mark particular places in the book are actually killing the romance of reading the book. The highlights and underlines carry a meaning for the reader that makes them, but they do not necessarily mean the same things for other readers that may come across the same volume of reading.

Books and reads belong not to one type of reader or group of readers, they belong to all that can read and acknowledge in their hearts that the work they read is a classic worth noting and remembering. Not to be used as a sign of education or one’s depth of verse, the reading of a good book is a shared affair, carrying different meanings for everyone that comes to turn of its pages and read of its chapters; a good work is a work good enough to be left as is: good not to be marked in eureka moments of excitement as the lines and verses unravel the meanings intricately weaved into the words by the writer. Good writers write for the sake of writing and frankness, anything else is an insult to the depth of intelligence they put into the works they pen as their work progresses from manuscript to publication. It takes time to pen a word, even if just a single word, for it carries within it a thousand rivers of meaning, and a million oceans of real-life contrasts for the melees of audiences.

How the writer conceived it is actually never questioned, until such time the woman or the man powerful enough takes interest and sponsors the pursuit of a good work. Then, the crowds of adoring fans and mangy critics in bifocals come to the fray and fight it out as to the true worth of the writer in question after publication. The age in which we live entertains the critics more, and the few self-disembowelling authors that are interviewed in shows on the various media.

The sadness of the now common practice of interviewing the author ensures that the romance is in that moment killed and the work actually never reaches the bookshelf on that day of publication. The romance is in the waiting, in the mystery and the anxiety of that day when the work is launched for public consumption. The true core of the culture of true entertainment and reading comes from this moment of repose, when the audience waits for the writer.
The writer should not be sold pell-mell to the audience because the words begin to taste like a gob of playground chewing gum over-chewed to a debased damp and tasteless squib only good enough to throw away.
Dull in taste and tepid on the tongue, a rushed work is similar to a field that has been harvested in autumn, well before the season of the harvest, when the corn is not yet ripe on the cob and the mealies are not proving too hard for the beaks of the birds of the sky and do not even tempt the mind and the hand of the thief.

“You make them wait…” So Nina Simone used to say before banging that piano into the ears, hearts and minds of her audiences. She survived because she was of a different school, one that understood the essence of not being recolonised. The interview of the author is in itself revelation similar to hara-kiri (self-disembowelment), for then one is forced to reveal the depth of the meanings of his or her words when it is inappropriate from the onset: the author is not supposed to self-interpret. It is only seen as appropriate in this strange haiku ‘the man’ built over the long years of oppressing one section of society for the benefit of another, pitting one native against another for self-benefit. The author should never self-interpret, he or she should only write.

It is an equal world, and everyone should wait their turn, unless the offer that stands is far better than what one has seen before, or that its chances in terms of the statistics of the accountants of the world are pretty good. The notion of money and profit is what has killed a lot of noble professions, for the reward for the skills expressed lies not with the author but those that can actuarially tell of the fiscal potential of the performance on the stage.
It is a culture that has been in operation for some time now, being expressed for example, in the tale of Dambudzo Marechera who was frank enough to always demand his pay. Shut out and limited to a certain corner of society due to his decolonised nature, Marechera succeeded as much as he did for money was just a tool (means) and not the ultimate goal for him, and though ostracised for his views, there is simply no denying the fact that Africa never brought a better writer in terms of frankness and depth of description. Marechera never licked boots; he knew his worth and no one could tell him how much his work was worth.

Your worth can only be asserted by you, for only you understand the core of your identity better than anyone: Robinson Crusoe tried it with Friday and failed. The loss of clear understanding stems from inequality of thought, for then one side loses to the smaller one due to the full gravity of their weight. The bottom is lighter these days, in a strange pyramid of an upside-down appearance and feel: the minority shall drive the masses as a wildebeest herd is driven by lions and tigers on the long migratory journey to the grazing pastures. If the minority’s schemes fail, it means that the majority lose out more in the equation. The minority is often unwittingly robbed of their basic means of living after the foolish gamble by the smart alecs of the world that deem themselves smart and not foolish. The Lumumbas of the world went and were forced to march on into oblivion because they did not only agree with the system ad ignorantiam but actually went on and understood how to change the system for the benefit of all.

The author of the future of the land should be the most respected of all authors, for the words he or she pens go on and save the masses from the maelstrom of ignorance the world now thrives on. Ignorance of the facts leads to the now common quest for the sensational tale without any value for the common masses looking for tales that actually serve to get the people out of their dire situations. The ecclesiast states simply, “…of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Of painting many differing pictures with trending tales comes the familiarity that soon breeds contempt, for the trending story is the norm of the era, and people are no longer fascinated by it. The age of the writer that wrote for the sake of writing is a yearned for memory, for the writing of the present times is revealing itself to be a poser, a blowfish pretending to be bigger than it is out of fear of being exposed for what it really is like.

It would be fortuitous of the teaching profession to go on as it does; dictating what should and should not be done, the ways of the world are more than the grains of sand in the desert or the tadpoles swimming in the source of the river. This therefore means that one should be allowed to run as the galaxy and the universe gave them to be, as long as it does not infringe on the consciences and the countenances of the majority. Every individual holds the basic right to their thought, for it is in that faculty of the mind where the salient processes of choice are decided. It therefore naturally means that the education of the world should serve only as a guide to understanding the accepted and extemporaneous ways of the individual’s interactions with the other members within the group. The further quest to understand and to know should be left to personal choice to carry out in-depth research into that which one does not understand. Failure on the part of the individual to always fully understand things leads to such an individual imposing their unfounded opinion on the others members of the community within which he or she lives.

It is the fallacy found in modern education, where government imposes curricular principles on the basis of a blanket approach to the processes of teaching and learning, forcing the individual to accept without question issues they might not necessarily agree with or which they have found to be useless in previous encounters. Lord Francis Bacon posits that:
…the most general principles in nature ought to be held merely positive, as they are discovered, and cannot with truth be referred to a cause; nevertheless the human understanding being unable to rest still seeks something prior in the order of nature.
He further shows that human understanding is largely influenced by will and affection, meaning that one cannot be forced to learn that which they are not interested in, for they will lose the verve needed to sustain it sooner rather than later.

Modern education was designed on a colonial basis; that schools should churn out armies of workers for the industries in government or the private sector. This has led to some schools of learning and thought being declared useless or not of essence to the strategies in place: their long term impact on the improvement of the processes aimed at progressing the world is forgotten.

Despite the glaring reality that the arts and humanities actually inform the formulation of strategies better than the other schools, governments on the continent continue a brazen attack on the humanities. Expressed in the form of phasing out certain subjects, or, depriving the student that seeks to pursue the arts and humanities of the needed funds, governments still go on and worship the sciences; which are themselves informed by the humanities.
It therefore should be no wonder why policies fail on the basis of their being one-sided. The culture of teaching children that the pursuit of the sciences and related fields is profitable should be reviewed. We fail to understand that no field is better than the next for the reality is all fields of study augment each other if applied in a manner that ensures their symbiotic synchrony.

Paying the scientist more than the artist on the basis of subject studied means that the artist will at the end of the day begin to think that their field is useless, forcing the government to import artists when the need for artists arises. It is an exercise that is more expensive than nurturing one’s own by not expecting children or those in the classroom to conform to set norms but rather express their view and talent as they are given.
This kind of approach ensures that they operate at their optimum, for then the chicken is not forced to become the eagle. In the dialogue Euthyphro between Plato and the young Euthyphro the cultivation of the young minds is named as the most paramount to the success of the state. Plato mentions that:
Of all our political men he is the only one that seems to me to begin in the right way, with the cultivation of virtue in youth; he is a good husbandsman, and takes care of the shoots first, and clears away us who are the destroyers of them.

The present scenario in education reveals a system that teaches the youth to protest, to forget the most basic element that leads to children going to school: education. If the teacher leaves the class and the government does not relent to the demands of the teacher: is time to think again, to review the manner with which the two sides deal with each other. Teachers and the government are actually not the most important component of the equation, but the children are the primary point of focus because they are the future of the state.
The education of the sort that inculcates endless competition has bred generations of snobs that focus more on the glory than the essence of their professions. Snobbish civil servants are the product of education, so are the engineers and economists. The scattered manner in which we interact as a nation is due to the type of education we receive in school. It should change if we are to change.

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