It was like a thick blanket covering us all; the mentality stretched towards the end of the earth. In every continent and country, on both print and electronic media, everyone was talking about the same thing. A victim I was to this era, where all our schools and learning institutes centered our learning on opinions and ideas of other people. We were taught to fill our brains with the way our ancestors thought, the laws and principles of old scientists and accountants were forcefully thrust upon us. There was no room for an individual expression of feelings, ideas, thoughts or experiences. In schools, our teachers would yell at us to study harder if we wanted good jobs, because good jobs come from good grades. What exactly were we to study? When we could not use our brain to think as we had given it out to be filled by other people’s ideology and yet, that was the basis of one’s vision for the future; the ability of your brain to absorb the ideas of others.
There was a huge line between those who want to make it and those who do not. The former was centered on the students that could solve chemical equations and excel in class activities. The latter were those that preferred doing other things aside from in-depth academics. When the time came to make that major decision, I decided to be classified among the students with brains. I spent my time with chemical equations and mathematical puzzles. There was no leisure time to explore myself. Man became machine, using the mind to make decisions and live his life. We were praised for our good grades, expecting good jobs and were also models to be emulated. Then a transformation began, that we could not see or were too blind to notice. Little schools were coming up; where students and not machines were raised. Every aspect of a child was developed. It took a while before my immediate environment got accustomed to the changes. Drama clubs, choirs, dance groups were opened to all with a talent at heart. There was an all-round education where both the mind and heart were educated. This transformation spread round and many people caught wind of it.
I adapted to the changes and discovered that beneath all the puzzles and equations was a little child with a passion for writing and speaking. I fought with my heart for a very long time. I thought of how people would look at me, but then, I took a brave front and picked up my pen. A huge burden was lifted from my shoulders as I discovered that doing what I felt was right was better than thinking about it. I trusted my heart to make that decision because I wanted to make a change which I knew only my heart could provide. My mind which was speaking tons of words noticed something needed to be changed but being the ordinary mind that it was; it could not bring about the change. My heart provided the power and direction for that change. I realized that the true goal of education is not about thinking, organizing or comparing information but about acting on a change. I had spent years studying and learning about changes but realized that I have not done anything to actually bring about that change. I was able to re-direct my path and found myself smiling and going places, something chemical equations were not doing for me. I also realized that a virtuous character is more important than whatever academic or life achievements a person acquires.
A former president of Uganda: Idi Amin Dada, whose oath when he was sworn into office to become ‘the hero of Africa’, was corrupted by the power he exercised. He became the enemy he fought, killing both his oppositions and citizens of the country he was supposed to protect. A president, commander-in-chief of armed forces, a previous army general and also once a lieutenant; all these achievements did not stand a chance against his vile character. An ordinary man of ‘integrity’ with no degree whatsoever would have made a better president than he was. That is to say that the true goal of education is not just about brains or the head but the body as a whole. It is ‘intelligence and character’. The pattern of thought whereby a person with so many achievements is viewed like a king is what clouded the decision-making of the citizens. They could not see that beneath the ranks and badges was a terrible personality.
Our society should not over-emphasize the thinking capacity of a man because that does not mean he is diligent in his works. The character of a person, as he performs his daily routine, is what makes him dine with kings. The character a person possesses is a sign of maturity as the person moves from one stage in life to the next. The child I ‘was’ when I decided to use my mind for making purpose-driven decisions is different from the young lady I ‘am’ as I use my heart to make those same decisions and more. Using the mind to decide is confusing because it only seeks logic and since logic is based on acquired and processed information, it is definitely not all-encompassing; therefore the mind finds it very difficult to arrive at the perfect answer. Thus, it throws up all choices seeking to ‘suggest’ the best possible option. The heart, which is like a compass, takes a bird’s eye view of our lives and says: “This is where you are and this is where you need to go”. It does not suggest; but calmly says what has to be done, presenting the answer simply and straightforwardly. Education, which is the cause of all these waves on decision making, has been classified into two: Formal and Informal.
Formal education refers to knowledge and skills gained within the classroom while informal education is knowledge gained outside the school, in our houses, churches or even a simple habit gained by ourselves. This is a typical demonstration of the mind and heart education. Educating the mind circles around degrees acquired in school, excelling in class activities, solving equations, puzzles, among others. Educating the heart which is the most guaranteed type of education would make one understand the game of life. It does not only affect your academics, but makes a major impact on your life-style. Formal and mind education can only confine you to the four-walls of a classroom. We are taught to think only within our academics which can only mean ‘within a box’ and where there is a box, there is limitation.
Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon for change”. If we are to make changes, we should not limit ourselves. There is no limitation to changes or making enough impact that can be carried to the next generation. The mind cannot be used to make changes but the heart can be used because with it, there is neither box nor limitation.