A teacher is only as good as his studentMy Musings
A teacher is only as good as his student, is a statement that came to me in my meditations a while ago and it stuck with me. At first it made sense to say that a student is only as good as his teacher, which to some extent is correct, but thinking further and putting context to the statement, it made perfect sense to say that a teacher is only as good as his student. But what does it mean? It simply means that a teacher is only as good as the degree to which he or she is able to reach the inner person sleeping in the heart of the student. To put it in another way, have you ever had an experience in which you have been trying to teach something to a child or an adult, and the person is not getting it? Then someone else comes along and says the same very thing you said and instantly the child gets it. You might wonder what happened. What happened was, not that you are not a good teacher, it’s just that, concerning this particular student, a connection to who they are on the inside was not made. Sometimes, teachers can only teach to the extent to which they can get into their student’s inner person and that is very critical for both teaching and learning.
Back to Afrika
Afrika certainly has amazing scholars, innovators, thinkers, creators, idealists in various sectors of our societies. This I know for sure because, as a writer and designer for this magazine and the various designs and other writings that I do, lots of information passes through my desk in forms of articles, papers, e-books and the various things that people from around Afrika share with us for the magazine. You can easily tell that Afrika is not a continent of dullards, like we have been made to think, and which we ourselves have believed over time. But my question has remained the same. What exactly is wrong with Afrika? I really do not have a one shot answer to this question, but here is what I think. I think we are targeting the wrong things with our amazing Afrikan knowledge and wisdom systems. That’s what I think and I believe I have the right to my own opinion. Just like my musing that a teacher is only as good as his student, I think we are not getting results for our abundance of knowledge in Afrika, because we keep pouring knowledge into mind vessels that are not worthy of such knowledge. And when I say ‘not worthy’, I do not mean it in a bad way. What I mean is that, we keep pouring knowledge into minds that are not refined, renewed or even prepared to both accept the knowledge and also use it right. And this is not just from the space of the students receiving the knowledge, but also the teachers giving the knowledge. I think we have mindset problems in Afrika, more than we have intellectual or creativity issues. And I bet you, until a man can look at himself critically, search his mind critically, no matter how creative or how much of a genius he is, he will still fail. Why? As a man thinks and perceives life, so is he.
As a teacher
Because of this publication, my wife and I get to interact with a lot of people in different sectors who possess different ideologies about Afrika and have perspectives of Afrikans. On one occasion, there was a discussion we had with an Afrikan (deliberately skipping the Afrikan country of origin) who had spent a good number of years living outside of Afrika and a few years back home. We talked about how to help Afrikans come to the place of true liberty in every area of life. During our chat they made some really great points about the things that could be changed, but I noticed that they never stopped talking about how useless, corrupt, evil, unprogressive and backward they considered their home country to be. As I listened to all the negative things they had to say about their own home in Afrika and how they believed that living abroad is better than coming home to live a backward life, it was then that I realized what one of the problems of Afrika is. As long as we keep comparing Afrika with the West, Europe, Asia or whatever region of the world, we will never be able to take a stand for change. And two, as long as the card we keep playing concerning Afrika is the card of negativity and condemnation, nothing good will come out of Afrika. We have been doing it for decades and it has not worked in our favor.
I also wondered in my mind about the years that this person had spent back home, with no notable change for all their efforts, then I realized two things: you cannot change what you have not invested love into and you cannot change what you don’t see any good in. Period! Meaning that you have no right to condemn what you have not invested your time, love, compassion to redeem and you cannot draw any good out of what you only see evil in.
As a student
Living in Nigeria for a larger part of my life before relocating to Kenya has taught me many things about the kind of mindset our young people have concerning themselves as Afrikans and even concerning Afrika. And I must say, it’s not always the best mindset. According to UN population data, the youth in Afrika, that is those below the age of 35 years of age, make up about 65 percent of the entire population of Afrika. That is a staggering amount of youthful energy and brain power that can be applied to so much good, if well harnessed. Now imagine if 80 percent of that young population either has no access to stable electricity to make use of their creativity, has no jobs to engage their minds positively, thinks there are greener pastures somewhere outside of Afrika, does not believe anything good can come out of Afrika, does not have matured minds speaking life and wisdom into their hearts, hates the Afrikan narrative and would do anything to walk away from Afrika. That’s a huge disaster in waiting. They think the solution to their problems is money. So they are filled with hatred and frustration for not having money, greedy desire to have money by all means, the pain of growing up in poverty, and they will do anything to make money. Why? Such young minds are defenseless against the manipulation that comes from the hands of whoever will give them the money they seek. And if you try to put knowledge into such minds, without first creating a situation where their minds can be renewed positively, then it all will be a waste of time.
What do both teacher and student need?
Both the teacher of knowledge and the student of knowledge must first have the right mindset about themselves, their environment, their society and others. The teachers should be able to access the mind of their students without any form of condemnation and the students must have the right mindset to receive that which is beneficial to the larger society.
This is the reason why in this magazine, we deal with the intellectual issues troubling Afrika, but we try much more to deal with the mindset issues that have made rubbish of all the intellectual gifts we have had for decades.
The Afrika we need and dreamed of is possible. It begins with my mind, your mind and our collective minds. For as we all think about Afrika and ourselves as Afrikans, so we will be in Afrika and as Afrikans.