It is easy to tell people to try and pass their exams, come out of school with good grades and all that! It is easy to convince people that they need to put in all their efforts trying to give the school the answers they need so that they can be awarded useless grades that can’t save anyone in reality! What if these people we encourage to try hard and pass exams are taking exams that don’t belong to them? What if they are actually been taught what they don’t need? What if these people have truly struggled to pass and yet they get the disappointing ‘pass’ or ‘fail’? I discovered, those grades in school are always not who we are! Being excellent is a character and when you appear excellent in all things, you are exceptional. That being said, does it include being excellent in irrelevant things? How does passing exams in a scattered and untrustworthy system prove who is excellent and who is not excellent?
If I should write from personal experience, I don’t know what it feels like to score the first position in the school. My best result in school was “fifth” and only God knows how that one came. However, right from primary school, I have always been respected as an elite even with my very poor and narrow escape results. I didn’t consider myself an elite, it was people around me who always addressed me as such. I didn’t regard myself the way people regarded me because my school result was telling me that I was dumb! To be frank, my school results and the way my guardians reacted to them affected my self-esteem. However, people around me said the way I speak, the way I write and the way I see things can be explained in just one word, “brilliance!”
I never repeated any class for any reason, I didn’t take any exam twice but I never ever scored high in school. All those courses and subjects that involved the mixture of numerical and alphabetical characters dreaded me so much and every time we sit for exams I sweat in bids to solve arithmetic. I was forced to do science in the secondary school; I was made to believe it was the best choice and my parents excited me with their personal branding “potential parents of an engineer”. I wanted to make them proud and I gave up my opportunities of learning certain things.
Throughout my initial schooling periods, I was known for one thing; my ability to paint pictures with words, to bring things that were locked up in my head into reality in leaves. I was not a good artist, my drawing was so terrible but I could write at any given topic and at any given time! My classmates enjoyed reading my stories and sometimes my fame would infiltrate into the other classes, not on the grounds of being academically intelligent though. Teachers even testified to my writing prowess and it was assumed I already knew where I was going. I remember bumping into the dean of studies during my fourth year and she said: “I am sure you know you are better off with doing an advanced course in English and literature right?” I smiled without giving her a reply, I was confused because I have been indoctrinated from home that I have an engineering anointing on me just because coincidence could give me credit for fixing a TV that truly never had a serious fault.
“What if these people we encourage to try hard and pass exams are taking exams that don’t belong to them? What if they are actually been taught what they don’t need?”
In spite of initial stage frights, stammering lips and my unfashionable appearances, the few times I spoke in the assembly grounds, debates or teaching practices at Jet club was always met with cheers from teachers and students alike. One of our science teachers said after I spoke on Geography “I am not thrilled because of the points you raised, they are good ones though. But I am thrilled by the audacity you displayed; the boldness that commands authority. Everyone would want to listen to you again and again.” They thought I knew where I was going. They never knew I was been deceived by the systems already set up in our schools and some home indoctrination, I was never proud of myself till years after secondary school.
Talking about my grades, I tried my best to make sure I came out of school with good grades, I read my books and even cried, fasted and prayed to pass exams but after all those exercises, people who played all the time carry the day! I know some of them who don’t read at all but they pass exams. Because I was usually flogged at home for failing exams, I felt all those people were better than me. In our home, those with good grades were always compensated but those of us who always escape narrowly received beatings.
And then, one still expects me to accept the lies that those who pass exams and come out of school are the only educated and gifted ones? Those are lies. I don’t encourage people to relax and not do anything about their grades in school but I cannot wave it off when people who never had wonderful grades are forced to think that they are not better or good in their own world.
Years after my secondary school, I have had this funny history with the university. In a bid to still continue with science even when I knew it wasn’t my thing, I had gone to various institutions and run out of them with speed! I was forced to think that a degree was all I needed. However, I have suddenly seen where all these things are leading to when I worked for a company and was the one who was determining who gets employed and who doesn’t. I discovered so many people with good grades who really don’t know anything about the real world. It was dawn on me that degree is not all that matters.
“We don’t learn the same way, we all learn differently but our schools are forcing us to learn the same way which is not helping us at all! We end up breeding certified illiterates.”
I discovered the very big difference between education and schooling when I was called to speak to members of NYSC who are all graduates. While speaking to them, I never made mention of my academics qualifications because it would create an unfavourable preconceived perception. After speaking to them, many were running up to me to book for mentorship session. I was amazed!
So many things are wrong when we assume that one must do things the way others are doing it and that is where our schools missed it. We don’t learn the same way, we all learn differently but our schools are forcing us to learn the same way which is not helping us at all! We end up breeding certified illiterates.
I have always seen people also say that responsibilities are not enough excuses to fail exams. That is a big lie; full-time schooling requires full-time attention. When a student takes up an extra role aside to being a student, there is always a possibility that it will affect their academic qualifications. Sometimes people make us feel like we don’t really know what we are doing when they say “being a student and doing something else at the same time is not excuse enough to come out of school with poor grades”… I wonder what they think when they say that. I was a president of a youth ministry and served in different capacities at an unbroken length of five years. I was also a student of the National Open University at that time. The responsibilities were so much that I had to drop out for some moment. I started doing some online courses in the two American universities that would last for a year but it was running into two years before I got done. Why? It was because I had added responsibilities.
I am not here to put up defenses for people who don’t do so well in school but I am here to say that there are always reasons why people don’t do well in school which doesn’t mean they are not intelligent. If we believe that people’s IQ is not the same, then everyone shouldn’t be taught the same way, everyone shouldn’t be forced to educate themselves the same way. Sometimes, our universities cannot even offer us what we can do and we end up doing what they can offer.
“If we believe that people’s IQ is not the same, then everyone shouldn’t be taught the same way…”
I wanted to do Multimedia as a degree course and it was the American University of Nigeria that offers it in the entire country. The surprising thing is that it will cost me not less than four million naira every year to study it there. So, what do you expect of me? To do something I can’t do, or just go for anything any school can offer? The most common decisions people make when they are not given a course of their choice is to go for any available one which indicates the mess in our academic sector! If people cannot decide and have full control over what they want to do with their life academically, then it means millions of people who are graduates never had direction.
Yes, lazy people fail exams but busy people also fail exams. People may be busy doing the right thing that isn’t necessarily about what they do in school. It all boils down to one thing. We all can be educated in different ways. Don’t come pointing fingers on people because they didn’t do well in the same field where you are only a master in certification. When you meet them in their own field, you cannot beat them.
Find the place that soothes what you want to do and what you can do. Don’t be discouraged and never be intimidated with the names and history of schools! You can learn through Google, you can learn in a vocational school, you can learn in a polytechnic, you can learn in the university. You definitely can learn outside the organized school systems. You can learn through so many sources! It is left for you to know where soothes you and what you want to do!
“Yes, lazy people fail exams but busy people also fail exams. People may be busy doing the right thing that isn’t necessarily about what they do in school.”
~ George O.N