Hello Dear Readers. Sorry for the break in transmission, I had to go “home”, but that is a story for another day.
If you are reading this, it means you are literate. No one falls from the sky or is born literate. Therefore we can safely assume, that your parents thought formal education a necessity for you and invested to make that happen for you. Some of you reading may be educated up to Doctorate level, and that would have been as a result of your own personal investment in your continued education, taking up from where your parents stopped.
Now I move over to the world of informal education. Trust Nigerian parents to arm you with skills that you might have even asked yourself when young “how will this help my future?”, or as we say on the streets, “who e epp”? Of course such questions were only asked internally and never voiced unless we wanted a beating to go with the lesson/task. However from all those days/years of training, we have learnt resilience, hard work, discipline, consistency, honesty, focus, empathy, poise, faith in God etc. I am of the opinion that the skills my parents gave me are useful not only on this planet Earth, but will also come in handy when I meet aliens (LOL).
Courtesy: misha wilson
Back to us as we think of the skill set we are equipping our own kids with. We place so much emphasis on the academics of our kids and put so much focus on the formal education, and forget that for a child to be well rounded will take more than being an “A” student. We have kids growing up without respect for authority both at school and in the society, and we think it is okay as long as the child respects me. Error! We are raising up kids who cannot fit in anywhere except in the cocoon we have created for them at home. You see a 13 year old who does not know how to do a basic chore such as to wash plates (I kid you not), or does not greet elders and then we say but don’t worry, “he/she is an Honours Student, and will have a dish washer when they grow up”.
I have a 13 year old daughter who is old enough to put simple meals together (after all she cannot have Food Network as her fave channel and my pots will be empty, lol). My concern now however is what skills should I teach her for cooking. Let me help you understand my predicament. I grew up learning how to use the grinding stone (hope there is one in a Nigerian Museum somewhere), as well as pounding yam and other stuff in the mortar and washing bitter leaf from scratch on a daily basis for my dad (chai). Anyway as Airtel has even warned us about life evolving in their recent beautiful ads, I am now sorting out which to teach my daughter. The grinding stone is definitely out, pounding yam in mortars is out (thanks to yam flour and microwaves) and some other things we learnt. There is now a machine that even peels your beans so you can make moi moi/akara easy peasy, so that skill will soon be out. On a lighter note, so while I was discussing this matter with her, she was like “Mom don’t worry, my husband will not be eating all this bitter leaf soup and egusi and etc, he will be eating exquisite and yummy delicacies that I know how to make”. In my mind I was like “my daughter I said the same thing when I was your age, leave matter o jare!”
Some years ago I took some of my kids on an “excursion” by bus from VGC to Obalende and back, and even though some complained, and one asked why the AC was not working, I just needed them to appreciate what many other children just like them go through daily. Lesson “Be Grateful for What You Have” was a huge success that day! VGC to Oshodi may be next but please do not tell them. Shhhh!! Do I even need to go into how most of us learnt how to drive a manual car and we suffered learning how to change gears and all that stress of knowing intuitively when to enter the next gear, only to have this knowledge now made redundant by the automatic gear system. Chai! Why did they not just save us all that wahala from day one?
Nevertheless I do believe that all the processes we went through learning different skills made us better persons with a certain finesse and appreciation of the thoroughness of our learning processes. We learnt patience and obedience. We learnt by burning meals how to watch over meals being cooked more closely and believe it or not, this helped your attention span length to increase for tasks. While we are also teaching our kids how to do certain tasks, there is the added benefit of us bonding with them and making memories that they will cherish as they become older. I still remember my father teaching me how to drive years ago. It seemed scary at the time as my dad’s driving rules were more than those issued by Federal Road Safety Commission, but it set in me a thoroughness for whatever one must do in life.
The long and short of all I am saying is I want us to raise kids who are brain smart, street smart and also emotionally smart. I know we are children of the digital age, who are now parents of tech-babies (kids that operate machines without manuals easily), but there must be something you learnt growing up that you would love your kid to learn too. Care to share?