“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not”- Robert Francis Kennedy.Robert Francis Kennedy, popularly called RFK, was a great man, a down-to-earth American politician, an unbiased Attorney General and a major supporter of the civil right movement before his painful and shocking assassination on June 5, 1958. As I perused through the 2015 edition of the NUHA Foundation essay contest, his quote above (though paraphrased from George Bernard Shaw’s play “Back to Methuselah”) was what caught my attention as it contained a great deal of information that I totally agree with. Though RFK’s quote above may carry different meanings to different people, to provide general ambiguity, RFK in his quote was describing his creative and “outside the box” mindset. Directing this to the context of education, this quote pours out a reflection of how the ideal education should be. The ideal education system should gear students towards creativity and a critical thinking mentality. But it is so unfortunate that today, the modern education system has taken a completely different turn.
Recently, I was privileged to interview some first year students who just resumed school on their purpose of being in school. From the total students interviewed, about seventy percent of them had nothing much to say, other than “I just came here to get the certificate and graduate”. This left me shocked and astonished. Unfortunately, so many of us are in this same boat. We all want to go to university just to get the certificate to at least have a proof that we have undergone university education. What an aberration! But with the current derogatory state of our modern education system, what else would one expect? In our schools today, we are tested on how much of people’s ideas we can retain without attention to how much of our own idea we can develop. We are made to satisfy our brains with theory and principles of ancient medieval times. There is no chance whatsoever to present our misconceptions and contributions to a topic. Instead, we are left with no other alternative but to take in fully what is thrown at us. This modern education system which deviates from the normal standards of education has been described by many as merely “schooling”. Even our society has been maneuvered by this system. Today, we measure up success in life by one’s academic success. It is believed today that as a student, if you can solve all the mathematical problems and scientific calculations, and if you always ace your tests, then you are on the sure path to success. But on the other hand, if you do not belong to this category of exam acing students and mathematical problem solvers, then you are on the sure path to doom.
As little children some of us had extraordinary gifts in singing, dancing and technology. We had no fear of taking risks, we would always want to create one thing or the other and be the instrument of change in our environment. We were creative! But as we grew older and became adults, the fear to take risks began to cripple in, we no longer had that creativity in us and our sharp curiosity was beginning to diminish. We continued in this state, not knowing that our education system was gradually stealing away our creativity with the aid of the urge to achieve academic success. With the “more than ever” increasing need for creativity in education, a remodeling of our modern education system is highly called for, and unless this is actualized, things are likely to move from worse to worst.
As commonly said, every problem has a solution. Figuring out a problem without providing a solution or a suggestion towards a solution is itself a demonstration of poor creativity. As such, there is a need for suggestions on how the modern education system can gear students towards creativity. One way our modern education system can teach students to be creative is by providing an environment that allows for students’ contributions to any topic taught. Most teachers today hardly ask their students for contributions on topics they have been taught. The truth is that most students have an awesome pack of ideas about different topics. But if somebody does not ask them for it, these ideas may just accumulate to be a pile of junk. Schools can also increase creativity in students by organizing standard practical lessons, be it art or science. In most of our schools today, the science laboratory or art workshop is so poorly equipped. As such the students end up knowing the whole theoretical basis of what they are taught without the knowledge of how it happens in reality. How then can they be creative? By carrying out more laboratory work, students can get a realistic view of what they are being taught and this can spark up creativity. Another important creative factor which is not treated with importance in our schools today is goal setting. Goal setting is a process of laying out an action designed to motivate and guide an individual or group towards a goal (Wikipedia, 2015). In our schools today, students are not taught on the importance of goal setting and this has led to a lot of ideas being left in the lurch. For example, a child can have a dream of inventing a car that moves on water but without the knowledge of goal setting, that dream may not come to reality because it was not nurtured and also because of lack of motivation.
In conclusion, it should be noted that all hands are to be on deck for the remodeling of the modern education system towards creativity. Students, family, society and the educational system are to be actively involved in this course. There are a lot of anomalies in the world today that, without creativity, cannot be corrected. The world needs a cure for AIDS, Hepatitis C and some other incurable diseases. We have the motor car that moves on land and the ship that moves on sea. But what of a means of transport that can move both on land and in sea? I challenge every one of us to build up a creative mindset and be the instrument of change that the world needs.