“I read about the Emperor Kaotsu who lived in the second century BC. He was the founder of the Han Dynasty and he used one hundred thousand men to construct a strategic road across the mountains. Many suspension bridges were used on this road the most notable being around 140 meters long and broad enough for four horses to travel abreast and 500 feet above the valley. Remember this is over two thousand five hundred years ago. When I read things like this I get provoked and I ask myself, ‘Wale what you are doing with your brain?”
If 2500 years ago, people had developed their brains to such levels, if Sun Tzu could write a book (The Art of War) in 500 BC that is still relevant today, then we are at the risk of becoming the generation that has done the least with the most. We have the most resources at our disposal – much more than any generation before us. Think of it. We have everything. I remember my late mother telling me once that when she was small her grandmother would always call her to wash her clothes and would add that she should never think that someone will one day make a machine that will wash clothes. Well, we have it all today – in such a short span of time. Our Smart phones have more computing power than entire companies used to have. What are we then doing with all we have? It appears that our generation has taken technology as a replacement for thinking instead of as an enhancer of thought. Technology is an avenue to express the things we think of and not an avenue to replace thinking for ourselves.
A study into ancient civilizations reveals one thing that we lack. There was a very deep respect for thinkers. The philosophers were like kings. People hung on to their words and allowed those words to be the trigger for new thought. Where there are philosophers to stir thinking, nations advance. In ancient communities, the wise men had a special recognition. Anyone who was identified as a thinker immediately got state recognition and elevation. A society that puts thinkers first will advance greatly because no entity can rise or develop beyond the mental capacity of its decision makers.
Think of this. Every part of the world that has developed greatly somehow was also the center of thought and the people that were triggering thinking globally. Once it was in Egypt. The wise men of Egypt were elevated. The biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh is a testimony to this. Once it was identified that Joseph had unique wisdom, he was immediately elevated. This was a cultural phenomenon. Wisdom got elevated. Communities that were centers of thought soon had great development and advancement following thought.
Which country dominates thought today globally? Visit any bookshop. A large percentage of the books are written by Americans. More American thinkers are quoted today than thinkers from any other country. Does it then surprise anyone that America has been at the forefront of development?
What then is the conclusion of this? If we want to advance, we must place a premium on thinking. We must be bold enough to push the boundaries of thought. We must be bold enough to innovate. We must be bold enough to set precedents.
The bold may not live forever but the cautious will not have a life. The greatest thing we can contribute towards the development of our continent is to elevate thought. Let us for once forget political correctness and let us aspire for generational correctness. Years from now, no one will remember who was a minister or who was an ambassador but people will never forget the impact of progressive thought on a society. Thinkers ignite more thinking and will ultimately inspire action. If we can celebrate and elevate the Plato’s and Aristotle’s of our era, without fail, the great inventions of our era will find expression.”
email@example.com twitter@waleakinyemi- May 1, 2015, posted in: Nation News Paper.
As stated in the article by Wale the great scholars like Socrates, Einstein, or Aristotle, remind us of great learners and their eternal quest for knowledge. As teachers and parents how do we develop the quest for lifelong learning in children and teens – the internal drive that propels them to embrace the practice of learning and thinking throughout a lifetime?
How do we develop their internal skills, like curiosity, perseverance, and the ability to tackle tough challenges which is critical in today’s fast-changing world, How do we kindle the flame? “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” – Socrates
When we help young people make associations between what they are studying at school and the world outside of the classroom, they learn that everything in the universe is connected, that lifelong learning is an endless process.
We need to encourage young people to explore, to be creative even when they fail. We need to help them use mistakes and failures to facilitate lifelong learning rather than protect them from failure. This will help them develop greater problem solving and critical reasoning skills “We learn from failure, not from success!” – Bram Stoker
Allow young people to ask question after question and more importantly to stay with the questions without rushing into the answer. “It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.” – Albert Einstein
We need to shift the responsibility for “teaching” to all of us – parents, teachers, and all adults who care about children.
The next time you think about how you can help educate the next generation, ask yourself a question. How can I help facilitate a child’s lifelong learning?
Loreto Education Secretary