Education is not entirely the key to success and students need to know this way before they graduate. Parents, teachers and society should stop deceiving and destroying young people’s lives and future with their false claims of what education is.
‘You need to go to school, graduate, get a good paying job and then become someone big in the future’….’You need to take your studies seriously or else your future is at stake’…these and many other statements I heard being said by teachers whilst growing up. I do not think these statements have expired in the ears of young children especially in primary and high school students and even in colleges and universities, in my opinion.
First, we need to understand what type of education I am referring to in this context…going to school to acquire knowledge.
Most people are in school not because they want to but because they have been told that probably after getting through to the tertiary level they will get meaningful jobs to do then they have made it in life. So, you find a child who is very good at playing football sitting in a classroom with probably others who have other dreams that need to be nurtured but are forced to go through the school system because that is the order of the day.
I recently had a chat with three high school students I teach about school life in general. In the middle of the conversation, they lamented about how their parents were forcing them to do one subject or another, all in the name of they have their best interest at heart. Of course, that is what every parent wishes for their wards. Unfortunately, there in lies a misconception; that going to school, getting all the high marks, awards, finally getting the Undergraduate degree and probably Master’s degree is equivalent to success in life or is an indication that one will be successful in life.
This whole education process is not only in school. Besides what we get in school is not the complete package. If you go on to get all these degrees yet lack the correct attitude to apply it in life situations, it is all in vain. Unfortunately, much attention is not given to that. Many people have an entrepreneurial spirit and may not be very academically gifted yet are placed in the same category as those who are academically gifted and it is concluded that the latter will not be successful in life.
I had an experience in high school where a teacher used to predict that my mates who were not academically gifted will not succeed in life while those who were intelligent will succeed in life (which I disagree). Back then, people could just copy in tests and even exams and score high marks. I even know of one mate of mine who I heard had access to exam questions of all the classes at the high school level, scored high marks in class (was never 1st though) but how would you conclude that this automatically means such a person is destined for success?
First, there should be clarity in the fact that being successful in life does not mean building houses, having many cars, huge amount of money in various bank accounts among others. Frankly speaking, that is the kind of success mostly perceived for us by our parents. We (I am directing this specifically to African Society) need to understand that success is relative. Being successful to me is maximising your potential to the fullest and achieving set goals in life. And there is no way we can all have the same potential. If my aim is to become a fashion designer, being successful is becoming that fashion designer and even exceeding my boundaries as a fashion designer. All those luxuries automatically come with it.
Some parents, teachers and society tend to be dream killers yet, in their mind’s eye they think they’re helping. When you are helping to build, you would not impose your definition of success or your pathway to success on people. Rather you will guide and encourage them. We need to get to a point where it will be alright not to force someone to go through the school system to earn a certificate to be a fulfilled person or criticise children who don’t get high marks in school and ignorantly tell them they are a waste irrespective of the dreams that they want to pursue.
Like I told my students, know yourself well, know what you want to become in life. Identify what you will do to get there and try to get your parents to understand your decision so that you will have peace of mind about what you are doing especially with the support of your family. I will also like to add that don’t let what someone said about you become your anthem. Like I always say opinions are like noses, everyone has one. Immediately you imbibe their opinion, you start to feed it, then it comes to life. Don’t allow that!
The irony of all of this is, some people who were deemed for success will end up working for people who were considered failures. Like Bill Gates rightly put it ‘I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all. Now, he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft’. This is not to say that those who are academically gifted will end up working under those who aren’t but the point is, success is relative. Probably that engineer being referred to in this context wanted to be and he is but the problem will be if Bill Gates was judged based on failing some of his exams and his friend will be the successful one. Who would have had the last laugh?
In summary, being ‘successful’ based on someone’s opinion is not success in itself but a consequence of oppression’.