About 35 years ago, I was born in a small Nigerian village.
My father is a polygamous man who has many children and every child has to stick to his mother, so I stuck with my mother.
My mother is an industrious woman who sold everything anyone may need in the village.
Between kerosene to beer and palm oil, my mother was selling everything and since I am her last child and the only child with her, she was forced to make me her business partner since I was a child.
At age 7, my mother would roast groundnut and ask me to go and sell it.
At age 10, she would ask me to travel to other villages to go and buy what she was selling.
Needless to say, I fell in love with entrepreneurship since my childhood.
But there was a problem and that was my schooling.
Whenever I got to school, is either I hear our headmaster advising us to study hard so we could have a good job or a frustrated teacher treathening to fail us then told us that if we keep on failing her boring subject, we may never be able to work for banks and some big company.
Even though I loved entrepreneurship, everything I was being taught in school was how to work 35 years for another person.
One day when I was 13, I got tired of my teacher and got out of her class.
Roaming about on our playfield, I looked to the sky and asked myself, “Why must everyone teach me how to be an employee?”
Why can’t someone teach me how to build a business?
In the part of the world where I came from, you dare not challenge anyone older than you, especially if you’re still a child, so I couldn’t ask my teachers why they always talk about the job.
Instead, I made school my priority while doing businesses by the side….. until one day.
It was the year 2007.
I was studying Accounting at the Osun State Polytechnic, in Nigeria and a particular boring lecturer was coming to class, so I ran to a library to go and read this book… “>
while reading the Magic of Thinking Big, I came across a sentence that would change my life forever.
It goes something like;
“Every human is a scientist and the laboratory we operate on is our fellow humans. Your success or failure in life depends on how well you’re able to corporate, deal and collaborate with others”
Essentially Dr. David Schwartz teaches that it doesn’t matter how many other things you know in life, if you don’t know how to deal, corporate, and collaborate with other humans, you’ll fail in life.
When I read this statement, I became so furious that I wished I could kill the school system.
I mean, I was 20 years and six months at this time and I had spent all my life in school. Yet, nobody ever taught me how to deal with and collaborate with other humans.
Then I told myself, “If the school doesn’t teach me how to build a business, how to be rich, how to have a great marriage, or even how to collaborate with others, what then is school teaching me?”
That was the day I decided to get out of school.
One year after this day, I announced to my family members that I was getting out of school without any certificate and I’ll never sit down in a school classroom to learn anything, ever in my life.
My sweet mother was crying.
My father was angry.
My brother disowned me.
But school is too poisonous for me, so much that, I would rather die than go back to that prison.
Now let’s talk about three foundamental things I think are wrong with our schools.
First, let’s call it a herd mentality or herd curriculum
School simply assumes that every student is the same.
Students are taught the same subjects, the same way, at the same time and if for any reason you don’t like a particular subject, that means something is wrong with you.
Even though science has proven again and again that we’re all unique beings https://qz.com/936525/personal-dna-testing-and-genetic-scientists-are-proving-that-youre-unique-just-like-everyone-else/ you don’t have to be a scientist to understand this.
Think about the closest people to you.
One person likes geography but he hates biology.
Another person likes Mathematics but hates literature.
Here comes the third person; he hates everything but sport, art, or music.
He just wants to play basketball all day but the school says, “You’re a loser except you pass Maths”.
My Agric teacher told me that I wasn’t likely to succeed in life, simply because I was making money from my mates in school.
I mean, business is my life’s passion.
When I was around 13, I would go and buy raw corn, roast it after school and sell at 100% profit.
At age 15, I bought a bicycle and got my mates to rent my bicycle while I made money.
At age 16, I bought a photo camera and would take it to school, take photos of my mates and get their money.
One day, however, one of the teachers saw some students looking at the photos I took for them in her boring class and I was invited to the staff room, an office where all the teacers meet student offenders.
One of them told me that I’ll probably not succeed in life.
Yeah….. PEOPLE WHO LOVE BUSINESS DON’T SUCCEED, you know?
What my teachers want me to do is to love their boring subjects and even though I did well in school, there are some subjects I hated like the devil, yet, there was always someone to threaten you that your future depends on that subject.
“IF YOU FAIL MATH, YOU’LL AMOUNT TO NOTHING IN LIFE”
“IF YOU FAIL ACCOUNTING, YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO WORK FOR A BANK”
Even though English isn’t my first language and I could struggle to at least communicate with it, there’s always someone to tell me, “IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE RULES OF CONCORD, YOUR LIFE IS FINISHED!”
I beg, I no be British.
Na try I dey try speak another person language!
Since English isn’t my language, WHY WOULD ANYONE EXPECT ME TO KNOW ALL THE USELESS RULES OF ENGLISH?
Can’t you just appreciate the fact that I can communicate with a language?
The second problem I have with the school is that we learn by memorizing
I’ll tell you two simple stories.
Between the years 2005-2008, while studying accounting in a Nigerian polytechnic, I was the best student in my class.
I was the only person who ever got to distinction and I was called a genius.
But guess what?
It’s useless because today (just 13 years after) I can’t remember any single thing I learned in those classes.
Even though I was the best student then, if you give me any of those exams to write again now, I’ll score…… F
Which means I never really know those things in the first place.
I simply memorized them and wrote them back to my teachers.
Now for some people who think that’s kind of normal.
Well, it’s not, and I’ll give you another example.
I learned how to ride a bicycle about 20 years ago but for more than 15 years, I didn’t ride a bicycle until sometime last year.
My friend and I were walking in a street I and saw some children with bycicle.
I walked up to them and asked for their bicycle.
Behold, I still rode a bicycle perfectly.
The reason why I can still ride a bicycle after 15 years of leaving the bicycle is that I learned how to ride a bicycle the way human brains were designed to learn…. By doing.
The reason why you’ll forget everything you learn in school one year after you graduate from school is because school is not teaching our brains the way it evolves to learn.
Our brains don’t evolve to learn by memorizing.
Our brain evolves to learn by doing and that’s why you can’t learn anything, I mean, ANYTHING by memorizing some dumb information.
If you think I don’t know what I am talking about, go and learn how to drive a car by reading books or going to some classroom.
Well, you’ll never learn how to drive a car until you jump into a car and drive.
The best cooks in the world simply cook, cook and cook.
The best entrepreneurs simply start businesses, make mistakes, try again and again.
Nobody in the world becomes a master in anything by sitting down in a classroom.
And that leads me to the third thing I think is wrong with our school system;
It takes tooooooo loooong
In his 1982 Novel, the transmigration of timothy archer, Philip K. Dick wrote;
“The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life”
Let me be honest with you, I think we need to teach every child some basics like how to read, write and arithmetics.
But I don’t think anyone needs to be in some prison called school till they’re 23.
The reason why we spend too many years in school is that most of the things we learn in year one have disappeared from our memory by year two so we have to learn again.
For example in my country, what students learn in any subject in Primary 4,5, and 6 are still going to be repeated in J.S.S one two or three.
A similar thing happens in the university, simply because memorizing knowledge is the dumbest way to learn.
We can teach people to be Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Entrepreneurs, Writers, Athletes without condemning them to decades of memorizing information.
The way to do it is to get them out to the world as early as possible.
A child who wishes to be an entrepreneur should be out by age 13 selling something.
A child who wants to be an athlete should be out by age 13 spending 6 hours every day doing what he likes.
A child who wants to be a medical doctor would understand medicine better in a hospital.
This is not to say that people should not read or be taught but to say, doing is superior to memorizing.
I’ll understand the definitions of different parts of a car better if you first take me to a place where those parts are needed.
I’ll understand biology better if you allow me to spend time with nature, plants, and animals.
A 20-year-old who spends one year following a medical doctor around and seeing everything he’s doing will understand medicine better than the 25 years old who spends 5 years in a university.
A 20-year-old who had started 3 businesses, failed and try again the fourth time will understand entrepreneurship far better than most MBAs.
John Holt said “Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”
We learn by doing, not by memorizing.
It’s that simple!
George Couros said, “Learning is creation, not consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner CREATES.”
It’s in creating, in getting involved, and in doing, that we learn.
Wendy Priesnitz said, “Our rapidly moving, information-based society badly needs people who know how to find facts rather than memorize them”
William Upski Wimsatt said, “There were no friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.”
If you like this article, you might like my book, 13 SECRETS SCHOOL DID NOT TEACH YOU ABOUT HOW TO BE RICH, I link to it in the description.
Thanks for reading.
I’m Steve Courage.