The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams are here with us and soon, men will be separated from the boys. In the next few weeks, we will know who the smart ones are, and the not-so-smart – at least that is what the exam results are meant to make us believe.
Most of the people we see walking around were all manufactured in the school laboratory. Or at least their brains were. And so we gauge the smartness and dumbness of a person depending on what they attained in school. And that is where our problems begin.
Remember the story of the young man who got himself killed by his cougar after she apparently caught him with another cougar. Having attended one of the best national schools around here and gotten straight A’s, he was among the smartest in our country.
I don’t what is more distasteful in this story. The fact that he got himself killed in extremely foolish circumstances or the fact that he was smart. Really smart. Or was he? He may have attained straight A’s in his KCSE exam but to me and many others who watched and read the story with anger, he was as foolish as they came.
More than teaching chemistry and physics, teachers have such a great role in shaping the lives of these students. My husband tells me that his chemistry teacher used to end his lessons with a little bit of ‘Life Chemistry’. He always reminded them that it would make no sense to pass with flying colors yet fail miserably in life. And no, the failure has nothing to do with money.
I wish young people would stop blaming hormones for all their misbehavior. True, at that time the hormones are raging mad and most of the teenagers do not understand half of what is going on in their bodies, but I don’t remember being taught in a biology class that hormones obstruct reasonability and sensibility. Were you?
So having a teenager sleep with multiple partners has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with being out-rightly foolish. Whether they got straight A’s in school or not. And the foolishness is aggravated by the fact that these multiple partners are way older than him and despite numerous warning from his father, he still chose the wayward path.
I think it’s time that schools started appreciating good behavior in school as much as they appreciate good grades. Maybe there should be medals for the cleanest student, most polite student, most best behaved student, the best time keeper (that would have encouraged yours truly to do better)…
Maybe we need to teach them life chemistry as much as we strive to teach them all these other subjects. That way, we will not have students who are book smart and complete idiots when it comes to life. That way, even our universities will be a safer place to learn.
And talking of universities, these are the places where the crème de la crème in academics are. But some of the things we see and hear happening there cast serious doubt on the diligence of the smartest people in our republic.
My high school taught us responsibility. Materi Girls Center was the place that almost had no rule book. You knew the rules by heart. We did not even have to attend morning preps or wear socks. Yet every morning, the classes were full and students were always spick and span. We did not have a talk-to-boys-and-you-will-go-to-Hague poster hanged on our classroom doors. We were free to mingle and that demystified the whole boys ‘thing’. We knew where the buck stops; with us.
And so teachers, since the students spend more time with you than with their parents, it would help a great deal if you incorporated some life chemistry in the labs. And we will cross our fingers and hope they will listen to you.