Or does one choose to work because one wants to carve a career (to advance the public or private good) for oneself and for others?
Focussing on how one teaches or how one learns? Can one exclude the other? Which would lead the other within the school system?
When a student shows he has understood (by his grades) what the teacher has taught him, would that mean he is learning?
Would that mean should the teacher stop teaching (such as when the child leaves school), what would happen to its learning?
Should the student or the child lead the learning instead i.e. when the child seeks it out or is curious to learn (even before the teachers teaches), what would we call that? Do we have a name for that? Often we usually do not even go there, because we say we are straying away from the syllabus (the point, the agenda, the plan, the meeting). Sounds familiar?
It has fascinated me to watch, that should I google for the word “curiosity”, there are two (well three) images that would typically return from the search.
The first is it shows images of cats and their curiosity almost leading the foregone proverb, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’. I am not sure which one we see more of. The image or the proverb in our head.
The other often shows pictures of children looking cheekily up the skirt of a woman. I am not sure whether to frown or to smile with this one.
And the third shows rows of children standing in a straight line within buildings that houses institutions of learning, I mean education.
But I could not easily find any other image to illustrate that word. Try it out yourself. Do let us know what you see.
But images and suggestions aside, what would inspire a child to want to be curious to learn?
Because should the child be curious to learn (anything), is there anything that could stop the education decline?
I say inspires because this is different from feeling desperation, meaning should I not learn, the school and eventually the society would leave me behind. But I do not want to be left behind. So, I’ll do anything to be number one. Even if it means having to study under the lights of the street!
We sometimes carry such thoughts into the workplaces, often leading to corruption, underhanded work tactics becoming a way of life and these in turn create a general sense of lethargy and impasse among workmates (because no one wants to be left behind)! So the consequences of that desperation would often show up as a stalemate.
So what today is killing the willingness of the child to want to be curious to learn? Where did it start? The child or the home?
What would encourage it to turn it around for the child? Is it the child or the adult?
What if what we thought was right is wrong? Then again, learning is not about arriving at the destination (concluding something is right or wrong) but being willing to be part of a journey.
I have found these two resources inspiring in trying to understand the answers to this question.
- One is a quaint little book on Toto Chan. One of the few books in my adult years that I could not put down until I had finished it. It is touted as a must-read for all educators.Totto Chan: The Little Girl At The Window is a memoir by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi about her childhood, mostly about her days as a student at a unique school called Tomoe Gakuen. Tomoe is a school for ‘special children’, and Tomoe was taken there by her mother because she was expelled from her first school in the first grade itself, for being a distraction to the rest of the class. Her mother realizes that what Totto-chan needs is a school where more freedom of expression is permitted. So she takes Totto-chan to meet the headmaster of the new school, Mr. Kobayashi. From that moment a friendship is formed between master and pupil.Totto Chan, the name by which Tetsuko was fondly called, took to Tomoe instantly. Which child would not – when the classrooms are made of old railroad cars that are no longer in use? Tomoe is run by an exceptional headmaster, Mr. Kobayashi, who had extensively studied the imparting of ‘knowledge’ to children, rather than the imparting of ‘education’.The book goes on to describe the times that Totto-chan has, the friends she makes, the lessons she learns, and the vibrant atmosphere that she imbibes. All of these are presented to the reader through the eyes of a child. Thus the reader sees how the normal world is transformed into a beautiful, exciting place full of joy and enthusiasm. The reader also sees in their role as adults, how Mr. Kobayashi introduces new activities to interest the pupils. One sees in Mr. Kobayashi a man who understands children and strives to develop their qualities of mind, body and heart. His concern for the physically handicapped and his emphasis on the equality of all children are remarkable. In the school, the children lead happy lives, unaware of the things going on in the world. World War 2 has started, yet in this school, no signs of it are seen. But one day, the school is bombed, and was never rebuilt, even though the headmaster claimed that he looked forward to building an even better school the next time round. It was never done and this ends Totto-chan’s years as a pupil at Tomoe Gakuen.Tomoe was criticised by many for not being a conventional kind of school. Children were encouraged to study whatever subjects they liked first, they were taken to ‘field kitchens’ and ‘farming lessons’ to learn the practical aspects of cooking food and farming, first hand. The headmaster personally saw to it that the meals of all the kids was nutritious and balanced. The headmaster knew the children in and out, and the children were so comfortable with him that they fought with each other for a chance to get on to his lap and climb on his back! The headmaster personally saw to it that no child developed complexes, and no child felt any different from the rest. This and much more was special at Tomoe. If you are always one for practical education, you would like this book, which is all about ’free teaching” and ‘practical learning’?It was Tomoe that brought out the best in Totto Chan, as it did in a lot of other children. It was Tomoe that made Totto Chan what she bacame – an eminent TV personality in Japan. Tomoe was indeed a special school, and Mr. Kobayashi was indeed a gifted headmaster.
Sounds impossible? It might, but it was not. Such a school actually existed in Japan before it met a rather sad end. The famous TV personality of Japan, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, actually studied in Tomoe. The epitome of kindnes, love for children – Mr. Kobayashi – was really the headmsater of Tomoe.
- The other must be this. It is a publication by Dr Sandra Seagal called Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding people and Realizing the Potential on Our Organizations presents a new body of work that identifies fundamental distinctions in people’s functioning — including distinctions in how people communicate, learn, problem-solving, exercise leadership, function on teams, become stressed, maintain wellness, and develop, personal, interpersonal and trans-personal. The insights and tools that the book offers for enhancing the quality and efficiency of organizations are equally applicable in the context of family life. The book also indicates the significance of this new body for the fields of education, health care, and cross-cultural bridge-building. The short of it. She basically says that our personality distinctions (and our learning styles) are hard-wired at birth centred as either as physical, emotional or mental functioning. In total there are nine distinct types of which five are dominant across the world. Three in the western hemisphere an up to parts of Central Asia and two in the eastern hemisphere (and including Africa). These distinctions play out differently in the ways we learn from and / or teach to others.
Love to hear your reactions to these publications!
- Are Schools Really Seats of Learning? (blogcritics.org)
- Curiosity Kills No Cats – A case for the importance of being curious (stratecutionstories.wordpress.com)
- “Curiosity is how we’ll get to wherever we’ll be tomorrow”: Skillshare’s new Manifesto video (thenextweb.com)
- Embracing Our Inner Child – Author Michael Gelb Encourages Individuals to Awaken Their Curiosity (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Leadership & Curiosity (theneteconomy.wordpress.com)
- About Toto Chan: http://mahacopia.blogspot.com/2011/04/totto-chanpdf-e-book.html
- About Human Dynamics: http://www.lopn.net/Human_Dynamics.html
Maybe somethings are best if we did not start them at all!
But the ball has been running since there were men (and women) – kind.
Because one foot really cannot make a difference to the game till the team is willing to work as a team but more importantly works to defend for its nation. Yet we all relish that one foot that kicks “the dream goal” to reality! It is what glues us all to the set and the field, is it not? It is what inspires the “next Pele”. It is because of that special moment that football clubs around the world hope to attract millions of dollar to its doors: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_missing_graph/4606501458/lightbox/
Heads of States are no exceptions either. They play into the notion too. They load promises of pomp and glory to the boys that bring the cup back home or scores the most hits into the opponent’s net. We even have special awards just for the best player. More often than not, it goes to the striker! For that magic foot – ball.
Yet football cannot be won by strikers alone. This is especially so when the defence is weak. And it is not difficult to see that the quality of the defence can bring the best striker and even the team down.
What makes a team strong in its defence? Is it the promise of rewards of winning? That’s for the striker! It is easy for a striker to connect a reward with a strike into the net. The more strikes that are in the more are the rewards. That’s easy to figure.
But what about the defence? The defence does not strike in. It defends or strikes a ball out! What moves one to fight for that? What do you think?
What stops the defence from leaving the defence wide open? Without a strategy? We can’t use rewards to motivate something we do not want.
So then what else will?
- Striker reveals goal joy (setanta.com)
It is classic!
Perhaps we are working longer number of hours but we are also not the most productive.
How is that possible?
|Data extracted on 25 Feb 2012 16:34 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat|
|Data from 1979:||http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/42/35205504.pdf|
|Australia||1 780||1 739||1 732||1 737||1 732||1 727||1 719||1 712||1 717||1 690||1 686|
|Austria||1 658||1 657||1 652||1 658||1 663||1 652||1 642||1 632||1 620||1 581||1 587|
|Belgium||1 545||1 577||1 580||1 575||1 549||1 565||1 566||1 560||1 568||1 550||1 551|
|Canada||1 775||1 768||1 747||1 736||1 754||1 739||1 738||1 738||1 728||1 700||1 702|
|Chile||2 263||2 242||2 250||2 235||2 232||2 157||2 165||2 128||2 095||2 074||2 068|
|Czech Republic||2 092||2 000||1 980||1 972||1 986||2 002||1 997||1 985||1 992||1 942||1 947|
|Denmark||1 581||1 587||1 579||1 577||1 579||1 579||1 586||1 570||1 570||1 559||..|
|Estonia||1 987||1 978||1 983||1 985||1 996||2 010||2 001||1 999||1 969||1 831||1 879|
|Finland||1 751||1 733||1 726||1 719||1 723||1 716||1 709||1 706||1 704||1 673||1 697|
|France||1 591||1 579||1 537||1 533||1 561||1 557||1 536||1 556||1 560||1 554||..|
|Germany||1 473||1 458||1 445||1 439||1 442||1 434||1 430||1 430||1 426||1 390||1 419|
|Greece||2 121||2 121||2 109||2 103||2 082||2 086||2 148||2 115||2 116||2 119||2 109|
|Hungary||2 057||2 011||2 019||1 990||1 993||1 993||1 989||1 985||1 986||1 968||1 961|
|Iceland||1 885||1 847||1 812||1 807||1 810||1 794||1 795||1 807||1 807||1 716||1 697|
|Ireland||1 719||1 713||1 698||1 671||1 668||1 654||1 645||1 634||1 601||1 549||1 664|
|Israel||..||..||..||..||1 905||1 989||1 887||1 921||1 898||1 889||..|
|Italy||1 861||1 843||1 831||1 826||1 826||1 819||1 815||1 816||1 803||1 772||1 778|
|Japan||1 821||1 809||1 798||1 799||1 787||1 775||1 784||1 785||1 771||1 714||1 733|
|Korea||2 512||2 499||2 464||2 424||2 392||2 351||2 346||2 306||2 246||2 232||2 193|
|Luxembourg||1 662||1 646||1 635||1 630||1 586||1 570||1 580||1 515||1 555||1 601||1 616|
|Mexico||1 888||1 864||1 888||1 857||1 849||1 909||1 883||1 871||1 893||1 857||1 866|
|Netherlands||1 435||1 424||1 408||1 401||1 399||1 393||1 392||1 388||1 379||1 378||1 377|
|New Zealand||1 828||1 817||1 817||1 813||1 828||1 811||1 788||1 766||1 750||1 738||1 758|
|Norway||1 455||1 429||1 414||1 399||1 417||1 420||1 414||1 419||1 423||1 407||1 414|
|Poland||1 988||1 974||1 979||1 984||1 983||1 994||1 985||1 976||1 969||1 948||1 939|
|Portugal||1 765||1 769||1 767||1 742||1 763||1 752||1 757||1 727||1 745||1 719||1 714|
|Slovak Republic||1 844||1 833||1 780||1 734||1 774||1 785||1 779||1 793||1 790||1 738||1 786|
|Spain||1 731||1 727||1 721||1 706||1 690||1 668||1 656||1 636||1 647||1 653||1 663|
|Sweden||1 642||1 618||1 595||1 582||1 605||1 605||1 599||1 618||1 617||1 602||1 624|
|Switzerland||1 688||1 650||1 630||1 643||1 673||1 667||1 652||1 643||1 640||..||..|
|Turkey||1 937||1 942||1 943||1 943||1 918||1 936||1 944||1 911||1 900||1 881||1 877|
|United Kingdom||1 700||1 705||1 684||1 674||1 674||1 673||1 668||1 670||1 665||1 643||1 647|
|West Germany||1 451||1 439||1 428||1 422||1 426||1 419||1 416||1 420||1 417||1 379||1 409|
|United States||1 836||1 814||1 810||1 800||1 802||1 799||1 800||1 798||1 792||1 768||1 778|
|Russian Federation||1 982||1 980||1 982||1 994||1 994||1 990||1 999||2 000||1 997||1 973||1 976|
|OECD countries||1 818||1 802||1 794||1 785||1 783||1 782||1 779||1 773||1 767||1 741||1 749|
But wait! Read between the lines. It tells us something more that is not obvious immediately!
Pascal Marianna, who is a labour markets statistician at the OECD says: “The Greek labour market is composed of a large number of people who are self-employed, meaning farmers and shop-keepers who are working long hours.” Self-employed workers tend to work more than those who have specified hours in an employment contract.
The second reason Mr Marianna points to is the different number of part-time workers in each country. “In Germany, the share of employees working part-time is quite high. This represents something like one in four,” he says. As these annual hours figures are for all workers, the large proportion who work part-time in Germany is bringing down the overall average.
In Greece, far fewer people work part-time. If you account for these factors by stripping away part-time and self-employed people and look only at full-time salaried workers, the Greeks are still working almost 10% more hours than the Germans.
- Which of the two countries do you notice has people who are willing to work for and with others. Which one is not as willing to do so? Would that be Germany or would it be Greece?
- Which country do you think is more likely to go into debts. Those whose people could work with each other or those who prefer to work alone?
- So, is the story of debts in Greece a surprise or had it all along been ‘a bomb waiting to go off!’? But the world did not know better?
- Which countries in your view would see their revenues far exceeding their costs? Which ones would not?
- What is the price we are paying as a nation? As the world with the Greece bailouts!
26 February 2012 Last updated at 01:05 GMT Are Greeks the hardest workers in Europe?
By Charlotte McDonaldBBC News
Europe’s top 10 and bottom 10
|Most hours worked||Most productive||Least hours worked||Least productive|
|The UK ranks 14th both in terms of hours worked and in terms of productivity|
- VIDEO: Reaction from Greece as bailout agreed (bbc.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Will bailout deal in Greece add up? (bbc.co.uk)
- World Bank chief Robert Zoellick: Greece’s €130bn bailout merely buys it time (telegraph.co.uk)
- Customers shifting money out of banks in southern Europe (americablog.com)
- Greece lightning (propellresearch.wordpress.com)
- Europe Should Learn From Mexico Tequila Crisis, G-20 Host Says (businessweek.com)
Without a belief in oneself and others can we really expect to see performance by oneself, the organization and the country (what about the region, the world) improve over time?
Should, let us say for the sake of argument, that we do not believe in ourselves and others, is there a price that we would end up paying? What is that?
Should we first :
- Setup a system to measure performance?
- Wonder what is eroding the beliefs in ourselves and others, what caused it and then work on recovering those beliefs?
Let’s assume we do share those beliefs with each other. Would it then become easier for us to set up performance management systems for ourselves and others? What would they look like then?
Which should come first?
What do you think?
Is there such a thing as systemic development of industries? We can tell what systematic is. Yes?
But what about systemic development of industries?
Let us take a context.
Let us say we wish to see the industry of dairy production grow within the country.
What needs to happen that would enable the sustained development of this industry. Now
notice two things:
The first, notice I did not say a dairy company but rather I referred to the industry. This means it has effects on the nation . That means more dairy companies are likely to succeed better as a result the industry is growing. When we take care of ‘the whole’, ‘the whole’ takes care of the parts.
The second, when we say it is successful, in this work, we would need to define it. We would expect to see the following happen:
- Levels of production rises consistently over time (it rises persistently and resists or buffers itself against significant downfalls) given populations are rising
- As such levels of revenue rises consistently over time
- Levels of costs per unit production declines consistently over time
Yes? Is that how you see it too? These are what I meant by the systemic development of dairy production in the county.
Growth of the Dairy Industry (for the Country)
Therefore, what needs to happen for all the above to happen for dairy production?
Dairy or milk comes from cow. So, to see dairy production grow in the country, while anything else may or may not happen, we cannot expect it to grow without first also seeing the growth of the number of dairy cows produced within the country.
On the other hand, should we see a decline of the number of these cows (because we sell the cows so that we may pay school fees), then we can also expect to see a decline in the level of dairy milk produced in the country.
What do you notice by these discussions? Is this line of thinking the same as systematic thinking?
Did you say, no? Well, you are right!
So here’s the next question, what would make sure the systemic development of the dairy cow industry grows within the county?
Growth of the Dairy Cow Industry
You know the drill now!
What do cows (anywhere) need?
Fodder? Meaning, that the level of fodder produced needs to grow so that we are able to produce more dairy cows. Usually we do it the other way around! We say well, there is not enough (supply, given demand for) fodder. The market says that the demand is growing and then, it (the market) tries to scramble to ‘close the gap’.
When demand drives supply, that’s a sign of non-systemic development of the nation. But in a systemic relationship it is the supply that leads demand. Notice it does not drive it. It facilitates. It just makes it easier. It respects the order in which causality happen.
So, therefore before we expect to see the number of dairy cows grow in the country, we should first expect to see the number of companies that produce fodder grow within the country. This needs to happen before anything else does, almost to a fault.
When that industry grows (production levels rise at lower units costs), the amount of fodder available in the country also grows. Therefore, as a result, it will not become difficult for the cows to “eat and go forth and multiply“. And when it does, the dairy production levels in the country would naturally increase. This happens even without needing the government to take actions to intervene. This will also add up to lower costs in running the government.
What’s the next question?
Did you say, what would it take for the fodder industry to grow over time? You are right! Now we can see, you’ve got the drill.
Growth of the Fodder Industry
Where does fodder come from?
You are right. Crops! Fodder is often the by-product or the remnants of crops once humans have used it for their consumption.
So what are we saying here? For dairy production to grow within the county, we need to first see the growth of crops produced in the country, grow as an industry. When that does not happen, and should it instead decline, then the fodder industry declines, which in turn leads to dairy cow production declining which in turn reduces dairy production or makes it difficult to take off for the country.
So what causes crop production to grow in the country?
Which one of the following, in your view, when it is available makes it easier for crop production to grow? Which of the following would we need to see available?:
- Fertilizer or
- Is would it be the willingness of people to grow crops for cattle?
Growth of the Crop Industry
However should crop production be the primary domain of the female gender in the country, that is, she decides when, how much and what crops to grow, it is possible she may not be willing to grow crops for cattle. This is because her primary focus and need is to grow crops to put food on her table, for her children! Not for the world! And certainly not for the cattle.
So, therefore which gender do you think should become involved in crop production, so that dairy production would grow in the country?
Should it be led by the mind of man or the mind of a woman who should lead this effort? Does it differ or not at all?
The mind of the man is typically designed to ‘feed the world’. There are exceptions, but always look at the rule. The mind of the woman is there to help nurture (of feed) her child (not the child of another woman!) Do not fight that or we risk not having mothers for our children.
Who therefore do you think cannot absolve himself from crop production for the county?
When the man becomes involved in crop production, we would now be able to feed milk to our children (including the children of the women who did not wish to grow crops for the cattle). Also, men, unlike women, will inherently (even if it is just sheer strength in their muscles) to till, sow for multiple seasons and harvest larger expanses of land. This situation is there in the likes of China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, South America for generations, where production of crops is the domain of the male gender. This has also has a positive impact on the water cycle . This means that as more amounts of the land is fertile for crops, such lands in turn encourages more frequent levels of rainfall for the country.
Is the amount of land, water, seeds, fertilizer available therefore consequential in the story. It really is not. It becomes consequential when I focus on my company. But not from a systemic development of industries and the nation.
So if I focused on changing things that are happening in my company, would that be enough to turn things around for the nation? The parts separately cannot take care of “the whole”.
Hmm …. what would we have to do differently today so that we as men, women and children can see these together as a nation?
- 9,583 exotic dairy cows imported in 2010-11 (nation.com.pk)
- Daniel Kabuthia : Kenya (kiva.org)
- Vermont Dairies Scramble To Find Feed After Hurricane Irene (huffingtonpost.com)
- Juan De Dios : Nicaragua (kiva.org)
- The “Bio” Hazard (placedynamics.wordpress.com)
- Gone with the wind: study finds cows fed wine dregs emit less methane (smh.com.au)
- Turning cows into milking machines takes its toll on their health, and ours (thebovine.wordpress.com)
… what we did to give in generating the revenue or increasing it and more importantly sustaining the increase (so we know we got it right!) so that it would allow the country (or organizations) to pay us increments?
What contributes to the revenue rising?
More sales (not increased prices – that is not real) and reduced costs, you say? Sure.
So, let’s go back again. When should we demand pay increments?
So should the revenue of the country decline, can we prove an increase in pay?
Yet why do such behaviours happen (or why do we let it happen) over and over again?
And bound by a belief that our views of the world and our aspirations cannot be ‘brought out into the world for others to see’?
Job descriptions, yes they describe the job we do or that someone should do. But it is that ubiquitous clause at the end that always says, ‘To carry and obey all lawful orders of persons who have authority either over or within …. or sometimes put more simply: ‘And any other jobs as delineated by the supervisor’ that really nails the deal.
It defines who is the boss, I mean the real parent / master, and who is the child (might I say ‘slave’).
Yes, on a day-to-day basis it lays out clearly the tasks that the supervisee will carry out for the supervisor and serves as a document that makes it clear why payment should either be or not be made out depending on the services carried out as per the document.
There is no dispute to use of that document and its validity for doing so.
It is the effects they have in placing someone ‘in his place’ that we would need to watch out for in the long-term.
[More …. soon.]
Remember, without demand there will be no supply. At the marketplace it is the demand (overt or otherwise) that drives supply!
- Peddling of fake sex drugs
- Peddling of counterfeit cigarettes
- Peddling by prostitutes
- Addiction to gambling
- Addiction to alcohol consumption
- Addiction to smoking
- Rise of HIV/AIDs epidemic
- Rise of inflation
- Price wars
- Availability of food
- Availability of water
Can you think of more?
Is going after supply ever going to solve the problem, or do we really do it to help boost the country’s government revenue (charge the one who charges!)? Or do we do it because it is just easier than going after demand?
When would we solve (once and for all) the problem?
Chasing the supply? Or the demand?
“What would it take to see the levels of education in the country rise without having the need to set standards (and the government having to invest in) for it?”
Hmm …. have we thought of this question? As a country?
To appreciate the question, first we will need to find out what is causing the standards of education to go down persistently! Or did we choose not to ask (or think about) the question, because we thought it was a non-starter? Or we just did not go “there” to think?
That is to stand back and wonder that us and perhaps generations before us had worked hard to set up whole institutions (in the adult world) and invested resources just so to remind us and if not, to correct falling standards of education. To do so we would have put in place measurements to make sure standards stay up.
This is different from what we would otherwise like to see happen for our children (in the child world), i.e. to see our child reach out for rising levels of educational standards. Yes?
So we (the adult) work hard to teach, but they (the child) are not learning?
So, what causes standards of education to go down despite having had measures, standards, resources, infrastructure to prop it up for these years? Has anyone counted how much we have already spent? Within the country? As a globe? Since post WWII? That is 50-60 years. How many dropped out of school compared to those who have acquired PhD?
REALITY NO. 1:
How has levels of education compare with the investments placed into it. Did you say, it has gone down not as expected? How does the trend of resources compare? It has gone up? Hmm … that does not make sense, does it?
So what went wrong?
What would instead cause things to turn around to see levels of education go up?
But if we asked that question, then our attention would shift to the teachers (the adults). Yes? It is one adult world (parents) talking to another (the teachers).
Then if so, what is the question we should ask, so that our attention is on where it matters? The learners (or the minds of the learners (the child)).
So what is stopping or preventing the child from wanting to / being willing to learn?
Because once we have figured that out, there would be no stopping in the standards of education reached by the children. They would easily outstrip and standards we set for the teachers. Yes?
Except which is easier to manage? The motivations of the teacher or that of the student?
But taking the easy way out would usually leads us back into the problem.
- Brewery and prescription drug industry (it would have been great to learn also the number of school going persons who consume (regardless that they buy) alcohol)
- Contributions to and attendance at religious groups
- Participation at sports and recreation
- Level of livestock births and consumption (+sales)
- Level of petroleum / gasoline / transport / construction industry growth
- Level of litigation cases filed at courts around the country (divorces, land issues, crime, property, business contracts, corruption, etc.)
- Level of population level changes (by districts) = Births (showers), deaths (funerals), marriages (weddings, engagements, showers)
- teacher number changes (we can see the student number changes are going down – that’s interesting! – where are they going?)
- Take parents of students with Grade A* and have them have conversations side-by-side with typical teachers as well as parents of students with Grade C or D or E. For the latter, take parents who went through their experience a few years back – as their emotions would have flared down and they are better able to see what has been happening for their child.
- Keep these conversations running for several months, if not years. No media. Just understanding. Listening, asking questions and understanding. Keep repeating the exercise. That’s all you’d need to do.
- This is different from meetings at the Community Hall between the Ministry and the community leaving the Ministry or the parent to defend their side. This will otherwise encourage defensiveness on both sides, but no systemic learning by the parents, children and the Ministry. The only result? Just defensiveness and more pushing of the Ministry of Education, school heads, teachers and another round of Performance Management Systems. The former conversation is an opportunity for learning by the country. But keep it quiet. Do not push it. Otherwise, if not done carefully, it can agitate the system. Slower is faster so we can understand how our cures do not make the disease worse.
- Do not link this activity directly with these results. I am sure the Ministry will figure that out. That calls for creativity.
Not the fireman!
I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.
Are the two worlds really that different or there is merely a thin line separating the two?
Are these two worlds defined by the women or by the men or by both or by persons beyond the couple?
I had a surreal experience yesterday.
I was on my way to an engagement party and I had my usual driver help me get to the venue which was an hour’s drive away. My driver, in his late 30’s or early 40’s, over time has grown accustomed to using the time he has me in his car to share his concerns that he finds in his life and as a sounding board for his thoughts. As the journey continued, the conversation turned to ‘what does a woman want from her man’? He asked, “is it a roof over their heads or a box of chocolates from him?” Well, I said, “while the box of chocolate may not be the same as a roof over their heads, but if she also receives a box of chocolate from him, it helps her see him as more than a provider for the family to also the lover in her life”, I said.
At soon as those words left my mouth, it felt like a cannon had suddenly been let loose within the car! He became rattled and began by saying “such days have long gone”. Well, I added, “you would not want her to see you as her father or brother, would we?” He continued to disagree. He then shares, that had I known better, I would know that “it is not unusual for the women in the country to “keep small houses by their side”. While she may have the ‘main meal’ with her husband, she continues to enjoy ‘side dishes’ with other men”. He adds that having come to know about that part of her life, it is making it difficult for him to relate towards her as her husband and as the only man in her life. He then repeated several times that it is not easy for a man to give flowers and chocolate to “a prostitute”. He for now is choosing to live a life separate from his wife, even choosing not to eat within the same house. Deep in my heart, I knew “he was crying inside” and I ended that part of the conversation with “this may have been a chance for her to learn to turn into a woman, a chance another man may not do it for her, except you”.
Half an hour later, we arrive at the home where my hosts were hosting an engagement party for their twenty-something year old daughter.
And then, almost in an instant, it looked like I had walked from one world into another world – a world ‘fit for a princess”. The place was teeming with men and women working side-by-side, putting together the venue for an evening of merriment and joy in celebration of exchanging and accepting the dowry between the groom and the bride’s family an event which was held earlier in the morning. I sat by the corner, watching and soaking in as much of the buzz of the evening and location. It was all new to me here. The women were washing plates and dishing food and drinks out to the guests who were arriving and laying tablecloths on the tables The men were preparing the firewood that was going to part of the braai stands that would grill enough meat for an anticipated guests of 500 to 600 persons. Perhaps even a 1000. Elders were playing out their traditional roles receiving the bridal parties on both sides and observing the protocols of the day. Meanwhile tiny tots scaled the length and breath of the venue adding colour and vibrancy to the occasion with their spanking new clothes and their chirping voices. Nothing over the top. Only sheer joy meandering all around in the togetherness.
Two hours later and when the venue, food and the guests were set, the bride walks in, in the arms of her fiance. He was beaming from ear to ear eager to show his bride off to the world. Both of them took the main stage and sat on their assigned seats (well, I actually want to mean ‘thrones’). She sat on her side, glancing from the corner of her eyes and chatting at her fiance from time to time, while taking in the whole place and the evening and how it has been laid out in front of her. She did not hold any airs about her but smiled sweetly knowing she was being treated like a princess from her groom to her father.
I sat at my chair within the audience enjoying how much the bride was enjoying the evening.
The next morning, that is today morning, something struck me.
How did I go from, in less than one hour and in a distance of less than 100 km apart, hearing the story of a ‘prostitute’ in the guise of a wife to seeing a princess about to become a wife?
Both assaulting my senses in the same evening.
How did the same land produce both princesses and ‘prostitutes’? Which one is more? Which side is growing? And which side is seeing declining numbers?
Why does this happen?