Youth Meritocracy


I am subscribed to newsletters from an amazing guy called Seth Godin and while I have received a bunch of deep, inspiring messages I’ve wanted to share with anyone who cares to read, none has compelled me to share more than what I am about to. Without wasting time:

The wasteful fraud of sorting for youth meritocracy

“Sorry, you didn’t make the team. We did the cuts today.”

“We did play auditions all day yesterday, and so many people turned out, there just wasn’t a role for you. We picked people who were more talented.”

“You’re on the bench until your skills improve. We want to win.”

Ask the well-meaning coaches and teachers running the tryouts and choosing who gets to play, ask them who gets on stage and who gets fast tracked, and they’ll explain that life is a meritocracy, and it’s essential to teach kids that they’re about to enter a world where people get picked based on performance.

Or, they might point out that their job is to win, to put on a great show, to entertain the parents with the best performance they can create.

This, all of this, is sort of dangerous, unhelpful and nonsensical.

As millions head back for another year of school, I’m hoping that parents (and students) can call this out.

When you’re six years old and you try out for the hockey team, only two things are going to get you picked ahead of the others: either you’re older (it’s true, check this out) or you were born with size or speed or some other advantage that wasn’t your choice.

And the junior high musical? It’s pretty clear that kids are chosen based on appearance or natural singing talent, two things that weren’t up to them.

Soccer and football exist in school not because there’s a trophy shortage, not because the school benefits from winning. They exist, I think, to create a learning experience. But when we bench people because they’re not naturally good, what’s the lesson?

If you get ahead for years and years because you got dealt good cards, it’s not particularly likely that you will learn that in the real world, achievement is based as much on attitude and effort as it is on natural advantages. In the real world, Nobel prizes and Broadway roles and the senior VP job go to people who have figured out how to care, how to show up, how to be open to new experiences. Our culture is built around connection and charisma and learning and the ability to not quit in precisely the right moments. 

But that’s not easy to sort for in school, so we take a shortcut and resort to trivial measures instead.

What if we celebrated the students who regularly try the hardest, help each other the most and lead? We if we fast tracked those students, and made it clear to anyone else willing to adopt those attitudes that they could be celebrated too?

What if you got cast, tracked or made the cut because you were resilient, hard working and willing to set yourself up for a cycle of continuous improvement? Isn’t that more important than rewarding the kid who never passes but still scores a lot of goals?

Before you feature a trumpet prodigy at the jazz band concert, perhaps you could feature the kid who just won’t quit. No need to tell him he’s a great trumpet player–the fact is, none of these kids are Maynard Ferguson–just tell him the truth. Tell him that every single person who has made a career of playing the trumpet (every single one of them) did it with effort and passion, not with lips that naturally vibrate.

We’re not spending nearly enough time asking each other: What is School For?

This a video that accompanied the message and the pdf with it.

 

Justified Strike!!!


You can’t possibly be in this country and not know there is a strike action in effect at the various public universities.

Well if you didn’t know, now you do, and at least try to be abreast with national happenings.

Some people might have argued (and probably still do) that these actions were, are, simply influenced by pundits of the opposition (whichever one at the time). This to an extent, might have been a reasonable opinion to express, after all, both sides are vying for power; oh how I wish it was.

Again if you’ve been following recent happenings, you might have heard that our “leaders” have been fully paid their ex-gratia! Note, this came a few days after the strike action was declared.

Now, with what limited understanding I have of the teacher’s agitations, the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SPSS) is the cause of this. The SPSS is a laudable attempt at evening out the pay schemes for our public servants. That way, professions such as teaching as well as law enforcement (hopefully less corruption? o_O) would be paid reasonable wages and in my opinion, the wealth gap in society would be bridged considerably.

More than should be the case, we have our political leaders, well members of the two dominant parties on television and radio, instead of their offices, ridiculing, insulting,criticizing, condemning, demeaning and calling each other out.

With divergent opinions, this is not unexpected, although I must say the propensity and frequency of this rather pointless behavior is mind boggling. Anyway, albeit disagreeing on various matters, these “creatures” never fail to disagree when it comes to fattening their already obese pockets!

Apparently, our teacher’s wages off of SPSS haven’t been paid and in their negotiations with government, they’re being asked to be comfortable with piece by piece payments, installments if you may, whereas the “in the spur of the moment”, “disagree to serve and agree to cheat” snakes get their ex-gratia payments in one go!

These guys seem to be the only ones who fully comprehend and live by the statistics on paper that assert that our beloved country’s economy is a middle income one, when really, the reality reeks, screams and spits at them everyday they go to the workplace (I have to catch my breath here, their rolled up windows might just guarantee they only see utopia) to er, *work*(with a big ???).

Well played Ghana, really, well played!

Last I heard on the media, the opposition sympathized with our teachers but as of this morning, I heard one guy hailing the adherence to the constitutionality of the payments and giving a long, monotonous and head splitting rundown of the many processes that went into getting their payments through; him together with his sibling from another thieving family didn’t seem to mind the red-tapism.

The last time doctors went on strike, I felt they were being a little inconsiderate considering they’re one of the rather well paid and respected professions in the country, but then again, they did what had to be done to ensure they aren’t always taken for granted.

Teachers are doing same and although I’m affected as well, (heck I was supposed to write an I.A., this morning) , I say their actions are justified and they should only return to the classrooms after their demands are met, not half the demands, but at least 85% of their demands, but it’d best be all their demands. One more thing, whatever solutions and hefty “recommendations” (yes, we as a people are so excellent at this) are met and made, they should be in the long term; not the short dwarf term.

I must say the actions of these “creatures” does make you wonder if they weren’t tutored by these same Aristotles (the theoretical Aristotle), if they didn’t feel the effect of present lecturers contrasted with absent ones. Or perhaps the saying “if you don’t know where you’re coming from, you don’t know where you’re going” only applies when they’re taking issue with the generation, who taking a cue from a seemingly working culture, begin to adopt their practices.

God (Allah, Annunaki, whatever powers that be) bless our homeland Ghana! [that’s the hope at least].

Good day!

Creative UN-Manifestations


So I heard today is world poetry day, cool, but poetry is not what’s on mind this morn.

Well in a sense, it is.

For so long, we’ve heard everyone echo how uncreative we as a people are, and blah blah blah.

Then there’s the counter argument that no, we are indeed creative but it is just the funds that are lacking.

To an extent, I’d go with the latter assertion. To an extent because I do not believe it is so much the money that matters, I believe it is the method.

Ghanaians are very creative, hands down! Only problem I see is with implementation. If you’re a graphic designer, I am sure you would have encountered a ton of clients who have crazy ideas but just lack the know-how to execute!

So where does the problem stem from? Way I see it, it’s in how we are brought up; our education system.

Let’s take poetry for example. Growing up, poetry to me was something for the elite of elites, and an highly intellectually stimulating thing. Walk in people like Mutombo da Poet, Rhyme Sonny and Sir Black and I’m like WOW! They break down issues and their ideas in ever so enthralling rhymes and syllables, and present something that not only stirs your mind, but is enjoyable. Then I begin to wonder, who the hell got it into my head poetry had to be so full of dictionary sized grammar and vocabulary. O_o. Well they begun something and now there’s an influx of poets; a few new ones and a host of previously sleeping dragons.

If our education system is anything to go by, someone who hasn’t been to the university probably shouldn’t appreciate poetry.

Ok on to the main point.

Have you seen kids in western movies? If there’s something they all seem capable of doing, it is drawing! I mean even if it’s some disaster of a drawing, they are still capable.

Not everyone can be as talented as the likes of KoBe Taylor, Johann Setorwu or Kojo Antwi, but i mean, chale!

Now imagine if our education system included [with emphasis] drawing, would it not make it easier for the teller at your local bank to make manifest his ideas to say the(idling engineer (who has to wait for the next technological breakthrough [from outside the country] so as to build expertise in), who would better understand and execute ideas if the teller could at least make a reasonable sketch?

I ask this because, time and time, ideas have popped into my head that I thought would be really cool, but because of my lack of knowledge, have had to tell someone about the idea who would now try it out, and eventually, either give me something crappy, or more than often, not do it at all.

Now, way I see it, if drawing was made mandatory “or even quasi-mandatory” as writing is, this country would be one step closer to actually being innovative. What’s the point having ideas when they can’t be implemented?

If even half the population can make decent sketches, chale, implementing stuff wouldn’t be so difficult. Because at least, people can better understand ideas. If nothing at all, I know drawing would considerably improve the movies we make here, it’ll bring out the best in us, as we can better implement action sequences.

And maybe, just maybe, it’ll help our politicians better think through some of the policies they implement, and hopefully, bring out the proper politicians they should be.

I’m just saying, after all, these are the workings of my brain.

Gears and pistons in motion chale!!!

Flying With The Circus


ImageSo you’ve heard of MOOCs and wanted a bit of the pie. But here you are in Ghana, where everything is an exaggerated cost. From internet to clothes to whatever else you can imagine.

If you’ve patronised internet cafes for a long time, then you can agree that it isn’t a conducive environment for academic pursuits. [i often wonder how people are able to do their assignments using them]. Thus MOOCs would be a bit annoying and frustrating for you if you don’t have internet at home; and don’t even think of modems [unless of course you don’t mind the cost].

Oh well, so you want to benefit from the likes of Udacity, Coursera, CodeAcademy, Coursehero, edX, CodeSchool, TedEd amongst several (most of the above listed focus on computers b.t.w., mostly Python), but here you are without an affordable resource to access this wealth of knowledge.

well if you can, these few tips should help you get started.

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tiGO

Buy a tiGO modem, or SIM if you possess either an Android or iPhone. Get a computer (laptop) with Wi-Fi (not necessary if you have the modem).

If you use either of the smartphones, then you should be aware of the tethering option by now. If not, Android, iPhone check your manual and learn how to do this. (Blackberry and Windows Phones inclusive). [you can also just opt for the usb method. long process]

Activate tiGO‘s internet bundle. You can either opt for the daily option,GH¢0.99, weekly, GH¢5.99 or the monthly, GH¢22.99.

You’re good to start learning your courses online now. If you don’t possess a computer however, but own one of these devices, you can still learn to some extent. Android’s stock browser as well as Apple’s Safari are pretty capable browsers and should allow you visit these sites, at least stream the videos effortlessly.

You would still need to get access to a computer in order to do some of the exercises though. ( My phone runs Gingerbread and browsers such as Chrome and Firefox aren’t available to my phone, I bet they’ll let you input effortlessly).

If you want to know more about MOOC’s, heck just Google it or check out one of the pioneers (first and later), or click here to read more, or here, or here or here or just frigging Google it!

oh did i mention you would be at an awesome advantage if you own a tablet?? 🙂

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John, Victor and the whole team. Awesome!!

If you can’t afford any of these alternatives, then check out OUWA.