Coming from a Nigerian family, it has been well pressed on me that an education is your passport to life. If any of you know any Nigerians, you’ll know that Nigerians LOVE to collect qualifications. The more the better!
My parents drummed it into my ears that I had to do well at school. And do well I did…I am very lucky to have benefitted from a fantastic education.
When I left university and stepped into the real world however, I was surprised to notice that it wasn’t always the most educated people who were the most well off. Being highly educated also didn’t mean that you’d be the most ‘intelligent’ or socially adept.
There are many different forms of intelligence, and in the big bad world, some of these – emotional intelligence for example – are actually more important and can get you further than just which university you went to. The formal education system, however, tends to focus on one type of intelligence, which is that of being able to successfully complete tests and exams. This can be very limiting for someone who has deeper skills in other areas.
I have met people who have just come out of prison who are highly intelligent and those with little formal education who are very good business people and make lots of money using their wits. Is a formal education overrated?
Admittedly I speak from the priviledged position of someone who has been well educated, and I’m not saying that people shouldn’t know how to read, write and have basic skills. However, above and beyond the necessary literacy skills is a formal education really that important? Is it the best way for people to learn and grow? Maybe young people could gain the necessary skills they need for real life in another way, or through a different type of ‘system’?
I ask these questions also because I have become increasingly sceptical about what the education system in its current form is designed to do. In many ways I feel that rather than encouraging people to be open minded, to be creative and to step into their greatness, many schools in fact do the total opposite.
They encourage conformity, adopting a one-size-fits-all approach that does not allow space for individual talents. Differences and uniqueness are suppressed whilst ticking boxes and fitting into a mould are welcomed. I feel that this is the reason why many talented young people, young Black men in particular, are falling by the wayside when it comes to schooling.
I sometimes wonder if the education system is designed to breed robots who will fill the society’s status quo and become part of the ‘rat race’, rather than becoming great leaders, visionaries and achievers – or just becoming more of who they are.
It is no surprise to me to hear that many very successful businessmen and entrepreneurs were not the top of their class, or did not finish school. Possibly finishing school may have suppressed those entrepreneurial urges, and they would have ended up working in an office…
I’m not saying that an education isn’t important. What I’m asking is what type of education is important, and what the real point of an education is beyond just passing tests. I’m also considering if there are alternatives to the current formal state education system that could generate better results…
I really love the Montessori school model and would be really interested in seeing how it might work in a secondary school setting. The Montessori method is one that promotes the individual child’s learning over and above that of the class as whole, so as to respect the individual’s own talents and needs. I love that as I believe that is what education should be about: learning rather than just teaching.
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this too…. so please feel free to comment!