One of the most important traits in the human mind, in my view, is intuition. Not even institutions of higher learning teach the need to hone this innate ability. The schooling system itself is just bad at this, even worse in the “black schools”. If a child comes into the space highly creative, they are most likely to have their creativity squandered by these spaces.
Quick flash back to 2011 when I was a university student at what could be classified as “bush university” in South Africa. And I remember being criticised by my lecturer as one who did not possess an “academic voice”. Remember that these are the very same spaces that teach their students that they are there to add on to the voice of intelligentsia.
Well, this is within the premise of ‘existing literature’ where their contribution is against the backdrop of other cumulative voices. So it may be assumed that there is really no new voice or contribution, say maybe through asking certain questions that trouble oneself about these spaces. But allow me to say this: the fact that learners that walk those corridors are envisioned to ultimately be critical thinkers who can interpret, meaningfully engage as well as critically analyse data does lend itself as a bit of an irony here.
Quick example: in a class of 20 Grade 1 to 3 pupils with one teacher, the teacher walks in ready to read Mr Hare Meets Nelson Mandela. She might decide to give a bit of biographical background on the life and times of Nelson Mandela, admitting and omitting certain parts for the class later. Perhaps one of her questions might be how many years this great stalwart spent in jail?
Education in South Africa is so appalling, children from these two pools dread it with every ounce in their being! The questioning to them seems like tests. So one child might answer five years, another answers five years, the next 10 years and lastly five years. These numbers all add to make 27 years. The engaging teacher would say, ‘AHA’ every time they denounce their fear of failure by answering. She would allow for some form of unconventional storytelling to spontaneously be at play here, where her desired answer is indeed what their contributions in knowledge-in-part would culminate into. She would understand that it’s not just their reading and writing that has the country’s concerned citizens advocating for them, it’s also the thickening silence of those who have spent 14 years of schooling but still have no voice and lack confidence!
My goodness! The engaged teacher should facilitate the process of learning to be truly a space for them to learn as well! Or is it unlearn, or co-learn with the learners? They should be vulnerable with the learners, so that shells break and chains of silence and fear of having a voice are yanked!
To cut a long story short my writing at university was criticized for resembling ‘newspaper writing’. Could the ‘knowledgeable others’ not have added to this in embracing relational learning, the same way that teacher could have gone in class to learn-as-much-as-to-teach?
In concluding my remarks and I use the voice that has come both with age and time: this ‘perturbing thing’ that you hold in your hand that most people do not understand about you because you do not fit that space is what you need to hone, understand and believe in. It is your guiding light amid impediments that bring lamentations to our country!
This voice in a place that does not encourage articulation, this talk where there is great silence, this height amid unseen people, this writing where walls keep secrets, this accent of your people that is strange and raises everybody’s eyebrows every time you gear to speak, this striding assured-walk where the streets lack confidence! This inexplicable thing that renders you out of the box and places you in harm’s way to be a victim of vicious high regard masquerading as criticism, that you must fight to keep!
Institutions manage events, finances, administrative and are reputation-based, but the hardest function has been to lead as well as follow their human resources! Your cousin did not leave school because he was inadequate! Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you are ready, the streets have become THE education.
Tell us: What do you think about our educational system?