Monday, 25 June 2012

I Watched Bad Manners

I recall growing up when ZNBC was the only channel and we would be required to bath and drink our 4 pm tea just in time for the Littles to start. We watched movies on video cassettes and we were shielded from any explicit material. Indeed those were the good ol’ days. Those were the days when we were just innocent souls. Fast-forward to 2012 and everywhere you go it appears that innocence is being lost at much younger ages.
            I still recall a time when my siblings and I would watch movies and a scene of a sexual nature would come on. Immediately, we were told that don’t watch bad manners and the tape would soon be stopped and we would put on a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. At least he did not make films with bad manners in them. So growing up whenever a man and woman kissed it was considered bad manners, when a man and a woman were in bed together it was considered bad manners. To hear a friend use the word ‘sex’ at primary school was as if the person had committed the utmost sin and it was always a source of blackmail. “If you do not give me your lunch, I will tell teacher what you said,” soon the poor boy was handing over his lunch. It is funny now as I think back to those days. There was this mystic about it that we knew, even though our parents never called sex as sex but rather bad manners and it was what only adults were permitted to do.
            Nowadays, however, forget about calling sex, bad manners that is so old fashioned. It is out there for everyone to see. Almost everything has become so sexualised these days, from the adverts to the songs, the cartoons to the movies. Everyone is bombarded with all the sexual content that there is no need to call sex, bad manners anymore it is there in bold SEX. A company selling cooking oil will put a woman in a bikini, some songs are extremely explicit that you quickly change the station when your grandmother steps into the room and cartoons these days are slowly following suit.
            My concern is that how appropriate is it to continue to refer to sex as bad manners. Parents are still very uncomfortable to talk to their children about sex. I for one do not recall a time when I had the conversation with my parents. Whatever education I had, it had to be learnt from elsewhere. The science classes on reproduction, friends, older relatives or magazines were my teachers. I think my parents thought that I would figure it out and pretty much I did figure it out. I will admit, however, that I did receive some pretty wrong information too.
             With HIV/AIDS still in our midst, teenage pregnancy and the increase of defilement cases, it is not the time to continue to gloss around the issue. Pretending that children are still innocent and are only preoccupied with Ben 10, Hanna Montana and Justin Bieber is a grave misconception. The things that kids know these days would shock most. It should not come as a wonder; there is so much access to information nowadays. Perhaps their greatest source of information and arguably one which is likely to cause the greatest damage is the internet on their mobiles phones. With just a click of a button it is easy to access any site under the sun; porn is not far from their finger tips. Parents and guardians would not know a thing after all the phones stay in their bags and pockets.
            The amount of peer pressure that kids face these days is also not helping matters. Not only is peer pressure coming from their friends but there is also added pressure to be like the stars that they see on the television screens. It is so easy to succumb in order to feel they belong in the clique. There is also an amount of experimentation and a sense of rebellion that would definitely come at this stage. Once again parents would consider this a passing phase.
            Therefore, it is time that parents should find time to talk to their children on sexual issues. Assuming that the science teacher or their best friends will take care of it is not the best option. Whether we choose to accept it or not if we do not give them the information, they will find it somewhere else and unfortunately it may not be the right information. The question I think parents should be grappling with is not whether to have the discussion but when is the right time to have it? My response would be before Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Boondocks start to give them advice.

Monday, 18 June 2012

If I Fail Does It Mean I Am DULL?

Oh my goodness it has been two weeks since I last blogged. It almost feels like it has been an eternity. This is all thanks to a little inconvenience called ACCA exams. I mean studying for those blasted exams literally took over my life. It was all I could think of day and night. My social life was almost non-existent and watching television almost felt like I was committing some abominable crime. Never in my whole life have I wished for a 50% than I do now, not even when I was studying for my degree. This then brings me to my next question in the unfortunate event that I do fail; does it imply that I am dull?

I will be the first to admit that mathematical and science related subjects have not been my greatest forte. I choose to believe that I am above average but they are definitely not down my alley. I will probably get the grades out of sheer determination and punishment just to avoid failing. However, if I was given the option over my dead body would I even consider putting myself through this hell. I have finally come to accept that I have to suck it up and swallow the bitter pill in order to get it done and over with, so that I may move on with my life.
I have never been a fan of examinations, more so ACCA examinations. This is because throughout the course it is all about passing the examinations; forget about understanding, grasping the principles or even application. The cardinal thing is to pass the examination whichever way you can and know how. This is the only way they will be able to separate those with the brains and those who are lacking. This brings me to my earlier question, if someone fails an exam does it mean they are dull and are incapable? Should our society be so fixated on examinations and maybe is it high time we developed another way of measuring academic comprehension.
When I was in primary school I always thought that there was a certain amount of pressure for me to do well at school. Passing number 1 was the holy grail. I am definitely proud to say that I did pass number 1 on a few occasions and the times that I did not I was probably second. This was all good for my esteem and it only drove me to study even harder, this is because I could. However, now that I am an adult I do spare a thought for those individuals who came out bottom in the class and turned up to be the joke of the class. I wonder how crushed their egos and self esteem were when Open Day came and their parents collected their results. Scolding them for not doing well and asking how they could be bottom of the pile in the class? Teachers and pupils do not hide it, when you are not performing well in school, you are called DULL.
It is shameful for me to confess that yes, I did call a few friends dull for their inability to be top of the class. In hindsight I have come to realise that our education system is simply not holistic enough. These same individuals that were called DULL, were usually gifted in other areas, art, football, playing instruments, making crafts and a whole host of other stuff. I often imagine that, what would have happened if our entire school syllabus was full of sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics. I can bet you that I would have definitely been at the bottom of the results when Open Day came around. The reason is simple; I just do not like them. Therefore, I too would have been called DULL.
In my opinion the grading system in primary school is doing more harm to our children than good. It is almost a form of discrimination because the ones who pass are loved and the ones who fail are forgotten. The ones with the A grades are the poster pupils for the class and those with D grades are what happens when you do not read. At a stage when children should be developing their esteem to be ready for a world that is more than willing to chew them, they are busy trying to understand why they are being referred to as dull. It is little wonder that in order to find some level of recognition some turn to bullying and being troublemakers and for the majority they simply withdraw into their own little shells.
Indeed examinations do have their role to play in our education system. At the moment it is perhaps the only way we can sieve the products that go into the education system. When someone fails an exam it should not always be assumed that they lacked seriousness and did not put in the effort. The sooner we admit that we have varying different comprehension levels and interests the sooner we will be able to develop other ways of assessing an individual’s intellect. The grading system in primary schools should be scrapped and instead it is the time that we should be discovering what their interests are. Until then my conclusion is that when I fail an exam it is not that I am dull but rather differently gifted.