Too cool for school? These days, people are more likely to tell you who dropped out of school and ‘made it’, than who went to school, got grades and succeeded. And, to me, that’s a subtle way of saying that school isn’t necessary anymore. Are schools overrated? Should we simply close all Nigerian universities?
To a Nigerian, school directly refers to formal education and I must say we’ve got it wrong when we see schools as the be all and end all of success. Ask a teenager why he wants a degree and he’ll tell you that it’s because he wants to succeed and earn money.
But truthfully, you don’t need a degree to earn money. At best, you need to finish Secondary School. But we had grandparents who bossed their communities with so much money and they didn’t even know what a classroom looked like. So, what does that tell you?
If all you want is money, you don’t really need school. Why waste 4 years in a classroom when you can have a head start getting towards your goal? Not everyone needs a degree.
I love school, studying, learning and teaching. Once, a few friends asked me why I wanted a Masters Degree. But, for me, it wasn’t for the regular presentation of certificates at an office so that one might earn a raise. It’s because I always knew I would end up in a classroom. That’s the goal. My work as a professional now is so that I can take field knowledge back to the classroom. Of all the lecturers I had, I learned more from those who had practised than those who have never left the classroom.
I couldn’t be more disappointed when, in 2014, a study material given to us by a professor cited Netscape as a top browser. Netscape was in the 90s. It has evolved so much over the years and is known as Firefox today. That’s the predicament of Nigerian universities and our tertiary education. The gap between the class and the field is insanely wide. Students today have to navigate this quagmire by supplementing with Google. And why not? You can learn anything with the search engine, and you don’t even have to be in school.
A very close friend of mine was considered overqualified as a fresh graduate because of everything he’d done for almost a decade before ever submitting an application anywhere. They didn’t even ask if he had a certificate, they gave him the job and hoped he would even stay for one year before getting poached by a bigger firm. He got poached after two years.
But are schools now bad? Far from it, our systems are just messed up.
The point here is not to focus so much on school that we forget that true education goes way beyond walls. Learning is a lifelong process; keep at it. Read, watch videos! YouTube isn’t only awesome for movie trailers and music videos, it’s a university on its own.
And oh, whenever you’re telling someone the importance of education and they start mentioning Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs and co as dropouts, remind them that not getting a certificate doesn’t mean they didn’t get an education. Zuckerberg dropped out, but he knew how to code. And that was one of the things that helped him build Facebook. Education gave him that.
Finally, of utmost pertinence are two favours you have to do yourself:
- Know what you’re doing.
- Know why you’re doing it.
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