Archives: Relationship

The Need for Disagreement and Alternative Perspectives

As human beings, we all feel happy and fulfilled when we find others who agree with our point of view on issues and topics. If we write an article or give a speech and someone praises us for it, it is a wonderful feeling. We all love to hear for others to tell us how good we are, how great our speech was, or how awesome an article that we wrote was. Perhaps, one can argue that we are wired to want “yes men” around us.

 

Yet, the path to growth and development does not exist without disagreeing points of view to ours. Nobody grows if his present perspective or point of view isn’t challenged – either by himself or by others. Yes; we learn, grow and develop when others are able to disagree with us, question our point of view, and/or present alternative perspectives to those that we hold and live by.

 

Many of the discoveries, inventions and innovations that have brought huge benefits to us were possible because of alternative perspectives. Sometimes those perspectives came by accident (Isaac Newton and the apple). Sometimes we got them after intense debates that took years (the shape of the earth).

 

It isn’t always comfortable when we have our long-held beliefs questioned. It sometimes grates to have our authority questioned. Yet, without constant questioning, we would make no progress. We would stand on one spot, year in, year out. This is why disagreements and alternative perspectives are vital to learning and to education. Students should be allowed the freedom to question and to disagree. In order to develop the brightest of minds, students need the freedom to propose and push alternative perspectives to issues and problems. It is how we got this far. It is how we will make all the progress that humanity has in store for it in the future.

Civility is Part and Parcel of Great Learning

Civility can be defined as formal politeness and courtesy in behaviour or speech. Synonyms would include courtesy, politeness and good manners. Spending time on social media, as well as interacting with people in various scenarios, one is tempted to wonder if civility isn’t dying out and on its way to extinction.

 

It can be argued that civility is a pillar for sound education and learning. This is because it takes a great deal of civility to hear others out even when they push ideas and concepts that are foreign or antagonistic to those held by one. Have a look around. All the great institutions of learning have at least one defining characteristic – they inculcate and impart an attitude of civility into their pupils and students. Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Oxford, Columbia, etc. Great learning and great education do not exist apart from an attitude of civility.

 

This is why it is sad to observe the Nigerian landscape. All sorts of debates quickly degenerate into exchanges of insults and snide remarks. It appears that as a people – even the most and best educated among us – we are largely incapable of debating and arguing ideas, issues and concepts without stooping low to insults.

 

Once upon a time, literary and debating societies and activities were prominent in our educational institutions. The idea was to build minds that understood how to stick to arguing pointed issues while remaining polite and non-offensive towards opponents. Back then, it was important to be proper in speech and attitude towards others, regardless of what positions they held.

 

Today, those who believe and argue differently from what we believe in are regularly called fools, idiots, morons and all sorts of names. It is interesting to note that the name-calling has not resulted in helping anyone improve their thinking or upgrade their knowledge. It merely fuels the drama.

What happened to those ideals of civility that we once held important? Can we get back to them urgently?

When Children Question Everything

It is commonly accepted that kids say the darndest things (Bill Cosby’s Show; anyone?). It is also known that

Source: Google

Source: Google

kids ask questions about anything and everything. Some times, those questions are pretty uncomfortable, and sometimes embarrassing. There is often the temptation to brush them off and send them to go play a game or get some work done when they start pushing along certain lines. They are kids, after all.

 But perhaps, we can use the natural inquisitiveness of our children to help them learn to think and analyze. Can it be that we can find a place of balance in which we let kids be kids without stifling their curious and exploring minds?

 Experience hows that kids who question and poke at everything possible tend to develop into adults who can think through situations and concepts better. While it may be scary for some parents, it is also true that children who are much more outgoing, and often pushing the boundaries and crossing lines, tend to grow up into adults who are able to take the bull of life by the horns. They tend to be able to thrive even against the greatest odds. They are used to not conforming and taking no for an answer.

 It is that place of balance where we teach children the place of order and authority, yet let their minds and bodies roam in adventure and exploration that guardians, parents and teachers must find in raising and training children. Some parents lock down the child completely, insisting that a child’s place is absolute submission. Such children often grow up timid and incapable of coping when life’s storms hit. Other parents just let the child have their way a hundred percent. Usually, such kids grow up to become delinquents. Both approaches are fraught with problems. The place of balance is needed.

Do you remember how your parents handled your questioning everything and pushing boundaries? As a parent, how do you cope with this need to strike a balance?

A FAMILY TRIP THIS HOLIDAY IS AN EXCELLENT IDEA

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It is easy to wave off holidays as times to give children a break from learning. However, this can be a grave mistake. While children should be given a break from formal learning and schooling, there are many fun ways of ensuring that they do learn even during long holidays.

A field trip is an excellent idea of a fun way to teach your children and /or wards in a hands-on way during holidays. By definition, a field trip is a trip made by students to learn about something

A field trip can be to places like nature spots e.g. water springs, water falls, rocks and nature trails, zoos, schools, museums, etc. It is fun, exciting, and yet educational. Here are some benefits of a field trip:

  • children have fun traveling and experiencing new places and things
  • children learn in a hands-on manner different from what obtains in a school environment
  • children get more exposure to the variety of peoples and customs that exist in the world
  • children get to know their country better

Holidays – especially to affluent Nigerians – often mean one or more trips to choice cities in Europe, North America, Middle East or the Asia – New York, Paris, London, Atlanta, Singapore, or Dubai. However, Nigeria is a large country, with lots of beautiful locations that all provide learning experiences. Those experiences include: historical, cultural, religious and scientific. Here are a few such places:

  • Olumo Rock, Abeokuta
  • Ikogosi Water Falls, Ikogosi-Ekiti
  • Arinta Water Fall, Iponle Ekiti
  • Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
  • University Of Ibadan Zoological Garden (and the campus too)
  • Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar
  • Kainji Dam and Lake Kainji, Niger State
  • Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria

These are just a handful of places to visit. Each of them have a rich history that involves stories based on culture and/or science. Your children will see and hear things for themselves that will reinforce the theoretical classes they have had in school. A lot of things will be clearer to them. And they will have great fun while at it. You should give it a try these holidays.

Don’t forget to pick up one or more of First Veritas books with homegrown content that helps your children learn from the point of view of our local environment.

A LESSON FROM FATHER TO DAUGHTER

A man had one of those discussions with his pre-teen daughter. He kicked things off by asking her if she was involved in any extra-curricular activities in school. She replied that she was and went on to explain that she was interested in the sprints and jumps. The jumps include high jump, long jump, and triple jump. Apparently, she had discovered that she had strong legs and was good at those activities. However, she further went on to say to her father that she stopped participating because some senior year students were always making fun of participants. The mocking wasn’t a personal thing against her, but it affected her badly enough to make her withdraw.

The father saw an opportunity to teach his little girl one of life’s important lessons. So, he dived into his own history and narrated to her how at different stages of his own life, he had been ridiculed and discouraged by others. He told her how he had chosen not to give up at each of those times.

“In life, there will always be people who will make fun of you and ridicule whatever you do,”she told her as they walked down the quiet street. “You have to make up your mind that you will not let others discourage you from achieving your goals.” The father went on to point out why people often resort to mocking and ridiculing of others:

  • sometimes, they are just plain jealous that you are better at a task than they are
  • sometimes, they have personal issues that makes them feel better about their own lives when they mock others

He went on to say to her: “What people say in mockery is no reflection of who you are or what you can achieve. It is a reflection of who they are and their values. If you want to do something and achieve greatness at it, you have to learn to ignore those who mock you”

Pick up that new book and read. Learn that new language. Polish your diction and refine your poise. Learn that new skill and go excel. Keep learning and keep achieving, regardless of how hard anyone tries to discourage you.

TALENT VERSUS ORGANIZATION

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The semi-finals match between Germany and Brazil at the FIFA World Cup 2014 was a huge upset and a record breaker. No-one could have predicted it would go so bad for either of the two teams playing. Neither was an underdog at any level of football. Yet, when the match was over and the dust had cleared, Germany had carried the day with a 7-1 win over Brazil. Scandalous is a good way to describe it.

Someone has described it as a victory of organisation over talent. That is a good summary, and there are lessons to be gleaned if we break it down.

  • The Brazilian team was choke full of talented players
  • The Brazilian team was full of passionate players (did you see how they sang their national anthem lustfully?)
  • But the Germans were the better organised team
  • The Germans were the more disciplined team

It has been proven that important as talent and passion may be, discipline and organisation play a much more important role in self development and hence in succeeding than mere talent and passion do. In other words, the more disciplined and organised person stands a better chance of learning, developing new skills, getting better at a task, passing exams and succeeding in life.

Sure, if we have a talented, passionate person who also embraces discipline and is well organised, we would have someone who would be unbeatable. Michael Jackson sits at the top of the popular music world because in addition to his natural talent and passion, he imbibed discipline early in life and never walked away from it till death.

  • Draw up a study time table.
  • Draw up a reading list
  • Schedule your tutorial classes
  • Schedule your eating, rest and sleep periods
  • Schedule practice periods

Talent or not, you can excel. Talent or not, you must embrace a life of discipline. You must get organised. By so doing, you exponentially increase your chances of success.

We Celebrate You, Fathers!

Fathers-Day-Super-Dad-450x200Father’s Day is a celebration honouring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It has long been established that fathers are critical anchors in the society. Studies have shown that a father’s love is just as important to a child’s development as a mother’s, and sometimes more so: “…in some cases, the withdrawal of a father’s love seems to play a bigger role in kids’ problems with personality and psychological adjustment, delinquency, and substance abuse.”

It really is not about who is more important between a mother and a father, but in recognising that the role that fathers play in child development and education is both crucial and unique.

Studies have shown that children with involved fathers:

  • are often better adjusted to socialising,
  • tend to do better academically,
  • tend to do better economically,
  • have better emotional stability,
  • have more meaningful relationships,
  • tend to have less behavioural problems,
  • have a better sense of self respect.

The celebration of Father’s Day was started in the USA in 1910, and has grown worldwide since then. It was Father’s Day just two days ago, and another opportunity to celebrate fatherhood and our fathers. We hope that the fathers among us got some special attention and appreciation on that day.

We celebrate fathers today and always, because we know that your presence in the life of your children makes  difference. We celebrate you because you matter. The time you spend with your children, playing with them, providing care, training them, and helping out with their school work is time well spent. It is an investment that will yield great rewards year after year, and even when you are gone. Many children remember with fondness the precious discussions and exchanges that they had with their fathers.

We hope that you indeed had a happy father’s day! We celebrate you always.

IT IS SOCCER TIME !

Yes; it is soccer time. World Cup time, to be more specific. There is a lot of energy and buzz around this event for the next one month.New Picture (6)

While more conservative people are likely to look upon sports and games as a waste of time for young people, research and studies have shown that physical activity is essential to the total development of the child. In other words, it is essential that young people engage in sporting activity. Not only does it develop the body, it also fine tunes the mind.

The Swiss Academy for Development’s Sports and Development website states:

Sport and physical education is fundamental to the early development of children and youth and the skills learned during play, physical education and sport contribute to the holistic development of young people. Through participation in sport and physical education, young people learn about the importance of key values such as:

  • honesty,
  • teamwork,
  • fair play,
  • respect for themselves and others, and
  • adherence to rules.

Source: http://www.sportanddev.org/en/learnmore/sport_education_and_child_youth_development2/healthy_development_of_children_and_young_people_through_sport/

Is it really a waste of time to let students watch the World Cup, after all, they are not physically involved in the games. Will devoting so much time and energy to watching and analysing players and teams for the next one month contribute anything meaningful to education?

Apart from the fun and recreational benefits that watching a football tournament brings (and these are bona fide benefits themselves), the game of football is a very technical sport, involving analysis and planning. Fans are always constantly scrutinising and analysing the teams they follow and their favorite players. This activity is mentally stimulating and will produce returns that can be beneficial in other areas besides sports.

So, yes, it is soccer time! If your children are into soccer, let them enjoy the season. Just make sure that they do not necessarily neglect studying and other practical school work during the season.

WHAT WERE YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAMS ?

We were all once children, and like all children, we had childhood dreams. Many of those dreams changed weekly or monthly. Whatever the intervals, they certainly changed. From wanting to be pilots to policemen, and then engineers, children swing across a range of desires and dreams. This is perfectly healthy, and no adult should have sleepless nights over such childhood fantasies.

Sometimes, a child would come home and announce that when she grew up she would want to marry her father! Kids do say hilarious things. We should never have knee-jerk reactions to such things. It is all part of the process of discovering and becoming. Eventually, with time, everyone settles down with a few things and apply themselves to those things. Years later as an adult, a person may end up adopting a vocation that he never even fantasized about as a child.

Because of the rapid changes going on in the world, especially in the field of technology, certain jobs and roles didn’t even exist ten years ago. As such, it is essential that we keep exposing children to keep them abreast of new developments. Thankfully, the internet is there. Also, there are books and periodicals that serve the purpose as well. Television, if well channelled, can also serve to help continually expose children to how the world is changing. There are television channels devoted to scientific developments and current affairs. Along with educational TV shows and audio-visual products, these are potent resources for ensuring that whatever it is that your children dream of today, they are best equipped for the realities of tomorrow.

In the meantime, over to you: what were your childhood dreams, and how many of them have you embraced as an adult? Do share your stories in the comments section below.

CHILDREN NEED US TO SPEND TIME WITH THEM

If there is one thing that children need – ALL children – it is attention. Not only do they need it, but they should demand it. As  matter of fact, if your child does not demand attention, chances are that they are emotionally unhealthy, which is the more reason why they need that attention.New Picture

The need for attention is not restricted to children. It is a basic human need, and no-one outgrows it. However, it is perhaps strongest in childhood. What are the things that children desire attention for? Children need to know that they are loved and that they matter. In practical terms, what does this mean?

  • We need to meet their basic human needs i.e. the need for food, shelter and clothing. These are the most basic things we can do for our children and wards. For the most part, many parents and guardians stop at this point. Yet, there is more.
  • We need to spend time with our children and wards. We need to talk (not necessarily lecturing and sermonising) with them, play with them and share activities together

Children who do not get this attention unconditionally soon learn that they get it some way or the other when they act up. And so begins a pattern of misbehaviour just because they are starved of attention. In many cases, such children also seek out attention from elsewhere, and some pay for it dearly.

  • Do we hurry up our children when they have things to say to us, or do we sit down, look them in the eye, listen to what they have to say and enjoy the moment with them?
  • Do we treat their opinions like rubbish and  dismiss them when they share things with us, or try to interact with them at their own level and guide them?

There is no way around giving a child attention as parents, guardians and caregivers. Children need us to spend time with them.