Uncaged: The Beginning Of A New Dawn

By Fatima Sillah. Fatima, 18, is a student at the University of Ibadan, in Nigeria. Please read her article and leave thoughts and comments below.

Aisha was the only child of her parents. But she was no ordinary child. She was considered a genius by everyone who met her- well, that was what they thought before she started school, at the age of five.

Aisha was a curious child who would ask the most intelligent questions.  At the young age of three, she drew and wrote about the characters that she watched in movies. She nicknamed each of her friends with the names of characters that she considered similar to them.

However, the once brilliant Aisha had suddenly became a “dullard” as she started school. She found it hard to concentrate in class, and instead, she spent her time drawing during classes. Her teachers labelled her a failure because of her inability to reproduce exactly what she was taught. They said to her, “You keep drawing these lifeless objects instead of focusing in class.”

Her parents were startled when she came home with her first result. Alas! It was filled with red marks, except for creative drawing. They were surprised because they knew their daughter was curious, bold, and creative child.

Aisha struggled to pass through to grade nine. However, all hell got loose when her class teacher invited her parents to school. During the meeting, Aisha boldly corrected the teacher that she was not a failure. She challenged the educational system that was too focused on giving students piles of notes to memorize. She expressed her hatred for the fact that brilliancy was measured by the ability of the students to regurgitate those memorized notes. She appealed to her parents not to be disappointed while she expressed how suffocated she felt whenever she tries to memorize those notes.

Just like Aisha, the creative potential of many other students is being caged by the chains of the traditional educational system. Our zeal to creatively solve real life problems and to improve unique human intelligence are considered unrealistic and time-wasting. People are labelled “failures” if they fail to pass the “tests”.

The world keeps evolving, but it seems that our ideas of education are not moving ahead with it. The educational system treats every student like a robot. Students are made to absorb information and instructions and are made to reproduce them in tests and exams.

We are being taught the same thing as we are taught yesterday. There is no room for self-discovery and experimentation. Little wonder how the unemployment line keeps getting longer.

However, the old ways of teaching are expiring. Teachers need to understand that students are not robots. Every student needs to be recognized as a potential problem solver. Every skill, talent and passion should be appreciated. One man put it rightly when he said that if a teacher brings joy to his class then he can make even the worst students nerdy because they will discover the beauty of truly learning.  Every student should be given a chance to portray themselves.

The time has emerged where the world does not care about knowledge, rather it celebrates creativity. Creativity is the ability to use knowledge to solve real life problems. The focus of our educational system has to shift from making students memorize and regurgitate answers to preparing them for solving problems in the future. Teachers must recognize that they have the most important jobs in the world. They are in charge of building the life of every student.

Students need to be released from the cages of the classrooms. We must be allowed to explore our ideas and to experiment with them on our own. People deserve the chance to be themselves. The ability to change the damning narrative of our educational system lies in our hands. A lot exists beyond the pages of the textbooks and the four walls of the classroom. We are not robots but humans, hence we must be treated as such. Our dreams and talents matter. The future is now!

2 comments on “Uncaged: The Beginning Of A New Dawn

  1. Celestine on

    I liked your long introduction using a real-life example. It really made it a pleasute to read because it was “out of the box”.


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