Education without limitation but innovation and imagination

By Winnie Emeh. Winnie, 17, is an undergraduate pharmacy student at the University of Uyo, Nigeria. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below. *Shortlisted for the NUHA Youth Blogging Prize 2015*

The beauty of childhood is in the power of imagination. The ability to dream and see things and believe in the possibility of the impossible. I explored this special power of mine when I was a child. I believed I could do anything I wanted to do like when my parents would ask me: “What do you want to be in the future?” I would reply: “I want to be a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, an accountant, a dancer, an actress…” I would list all the professions my little head could remember. My parents would laugh at my childishness and say: “It is impossible.” Although that never deterred me from having so many other thoughts like sprouting wings like a fairy or a bird, and fly round the world, which I believe was the exact thought the Wright brothers had before inventing the airplane.

So many dreams I had as a child, including living in a mansion with an indoor pool, a garage full of cars, my personal room with video games, a mini golf course. Living a wealthy life with lots of money to spend. My peers would say it is impossible because I was not born into a wealthy family. I lived in a rural neighbourhood and of course, my father did not own a mansion. Why not? I would ask myself. Why can’t I be rich? Be a jack of all trades or fly? Yes, it’s possible. If I work hard, I could be rich and own a mansion, and if I study hard, I could learn all trades. Now, I believe Robert F. Kennedy was speaking to me when he said: “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” I believe the ability to dream comes with the power of imagination and the direction to actualize those dreams come with the power of innovation. I need both to achieve my purpose, they provide me with an education without limitation. They allow me to think outside the box.

Thinking outside the box is the only way to find solutions to problems because that way, I would leave all my experiences, mindsets and attitudes behind and start to view things from a completely different perspective: unbiased, unfiltered, open to suggestions and willing to see others’ opinions but also ready to swim against the flood and think of what no one else has ever thought of. Not only does thinking outside the box mean that I leave everything which I thought I knew behind and also what I was taught in school and approach specific situations from a completely different point of view than I did before. It also means that I open myself so as not to stubbornly persist on my own opinion but to change the opinion I conceived when another person proves me wrong or mistaken and that would be stepping out of my own box into the wider world.

It is never easy to think outside the box nor is it a reflection of one’s intelligence. For a given problem, some people tend to explore solutions in the unknown world, which requires creativity, mental toughness, agility and boldness. It is thinking beyond the parameter of human consciousness and experience, to see beyond the norm, to be a visionary; leave the psychological comfort zone. Life is a journey and exploring the muddle is an adventure; so, how do we think outside the box? We were, and will be trapped in this maze of thinking forever if we do not break the chains. The ugly reality is that most of the world follows conventional wisdom. We have been taught in routine ways from early days of school; trapped in a matrix. A liberal, open-minded, unconventional wisdom, the zeal to be different and a nonconformist approach to uncover things; that is thinking without limitation. One should think beyond political, economic, social and egoistical barriers to ‘think outside the box’.

To think outside the box, we need a different type of education; not the conventional type Charles Holland Duell had – a former Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. He said: “Everything that can be invented has been invented”. He was clearly thinking within the box, a reflection of the conventional education he had, considering he made this statement in 1899 when people were still travelling by horse and train. Take a look at the numerous changes that have taken place since then. Education without limitation has only one sole aim which is to liberate our minds. Education is in vain and useless if we are still confined to rules, laws and conventions. If we keep thinking the way other people think, we will remain the way other people are, but if we think differently, we will get to where we are supposed to be. We need the right orientation to dream and this can only come from an education that makes us overcome barriers hindering our potentials. These barriers are usually in the form of fear of the unknown. Our original ideas are great and extraordinary, but when we think of how difficult it is to achieve them, we enter back into the box. There should be nothing scary about achieving dreams, employing an education that yields a positive perspective without fear; a perspective that gives room for imagination, innovation and creativity. Your perspective which is the eye you view life with can allow you to dream, see and be whatever you want as long as you can think it. That is how great men of old achieve their dreams.

A sound education is not about going to school and solving equations or learning formulas derived by people who existed long time ago, without knowing how to go about inventing our own formula, although that is exactly what our society practices today. It is not about hoarding knowledge without implementation or application. A sound education leaves room for creativity, it allows room for innovation, else we get stuck in our ways. The government, private individuals and also the society at large should be aware of the importance of a sound education and endeavour that our children and students get that type of education so that when faced with a problem, we do not get worked up if we cannot find a solution but we relax and let imagination and innovation bring about breakthrough. The more parents and guardians drill into the young generation the dreams they had for themselves, imagination, innovation, the room for new ideas to spring up and the room for creativity to take place would be SHUT and the world would remain the SAME WAY it is for years to come or even worse.

Small minded people who see things as they are, are always comfortable with it. They would always say my dreams are too big to accomplish because they can’t. But through my power of imagination, I can dream of things that never were but can and should be, and I bring them to reality by the power of innovation. The world needs that special childhood power to dream and say: ‘Why not?’

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