Towards the end of last week, I had a series of concerns about our Africa society, such as, why are we different from other people in other continents especially the developed continents? why can’t we create something that would be immensely beneficial to the whole world? Why can’t we be at the forefront of development and innovation in every area and community? Did God create us to be followers? Why have we been reduced to being followers instead of being leaders in the world? Why are we so limited like this in Africa society? Despite our immense, precious, and valuable resources available on our continent, we are still poor and impoverished. Africa societies have rich cultures, values, customs, languages, proverbs that can be translated and transferred to wealth if harnessed, but why is it that the wealthiest and richest continent in resources is the poorest among the other continents in the world?
As I brood on these questions over and over, coupled with my experiences both from the past and the present, as a learning specialist, I realized two basic processes, which are: Thinking and Acting.
I had once taught a subject-Technical Drawing (Link Mechanism) in a school of graduating students, and after I finished the class, I asked my students, “Any questions” and to my surprised, nobody asked any questions, everybody kept mute and after some minutes, I dismissed the class, and some few students waited to see me but they didn’t say anything until other students had gone out of the class. Now, it was time to speak, one of them said, “Sir, I didn’t understand anything in that topic, in fact, none of us here understood anything we just agreed with you with” but I said, but…. I asked if anybody has any questions, should ask, and you never talked. The chorus questions from all of them were “Why should we ask? You are the teacher, and everything you say is true, but I interrupted, all that I taught, you didn’t understand? their response shocked me “we are never taught to ask the question from our teachers, we just accept whatever they say” Let cut the story short, they eventually asked the question they had in mind about the topic and it was clear to them afterward.
This story happens all the time in our African societies, teachers in schools ask their students if they have questions and students never ask and when they ask, they are not given answers, or most times, it’s to embarrass the students. I have seen teachers in class behave as the almighty God, you dare not ask them questions. My Mathematics teachers in SS 2, not Mr. Afolabi, the other one before him, I could not even remember his name. He will face the blackboard so that you don’t need to ask him questions, and after which, he will just say copy the note on the blackboard and off he goes out of the class.
Students and people never ask questions in schools, at home, in society, in a group, in a family and everywhere, people shut up their mouth all the time. And one Yoruba Adage says, “Ale soro ni ibere oriburuku” It means not being able to talk when you are supposed to talk is the beginning of bad luck. It’s very funny to note that the same Yoruba proverb says, when elders are speaking, the young ones should not speak. I am sure this proverb is everywhere in our African societies. You don’t ask questions when elders are speaking but after they stop speaking, we don’t still ask questions. It connotes we should accept everything elder says, boss says, daddy says, mummy says, leaders say. The elders (Parents, Bosses, Superiors in the office, political leaders, religious leaders) see and know everything. Elders, Parents, Bosses see it as an insult or insubordination or sign of rudeness and lack of respect, when people ask, questions about the instruction. Whereas, the purpose of asking questions is for clarification and to deepen understanding. Asking questions shows we are thinking along and our minds are engaged in the process of receiving the instructions. Asking questions is the beginning of innovations. Socrates invented a questioning method called Socratic method also known as the method of Elenchus or elenctic method of Socratic debate. It is a form of a cooperative-argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas. The only way we can stimulate critical and innovative thinking is through questioning. If we question everything we hear, see, and perceive, we are engaging our minds to start to seek answers to question already raised.
The easiest question to ask and also the most difficult to ask is “WHY” Darren Hardy says “We need Why-power, not Will-power” When I was in schools, I was always afraid to ask questions even though I didn’t understand all that I was being taught, but I was always afraid to ask a question because I was never brought like that…..If you live in barracks you know what I am talking about. I had to fight it to begin to ask the question of “Why”. I never understood anything until I started asking questions, by that it shows my mind is working. And not asking the question shows my mind is passive. The passivity state of our mind will not produce any innovative and critical thinking, hence our bane in African societies. Teachers, Parents, Bosses, Leaders should allow individuals under their care to ask questions. When I got my freedom from inferiority complex and started asking questions, my mind began to work in a usual way that I have not seen before, and I began to do things I never believed could be done. The Why-power leads to Will-power. What we need in African society is the question of WHY.
It’s generally believed that people do not care about what you do but why you do what you do, is the only reason people to believe what you do. The distinguishing element in what we do is triggered by why we do what we do. Millions of people can engage in the same business, but the “why” of what you do is your unique selling point. Teachers should not be afraid to genuinely entertain questions from their students; parents should allow their wards to ask the question of why; bosses should allow people working for them to question the idea; political leaders should allow their citizens to ask questions, it all means people with us, are thinking. God never made us robots, but rather rational beings. If we ask most Physics teachers in Africa the rationale behind the gravitational force, most would probably say, that’s what they told us and therefore, our bane. Every innovation started with a question in the mind of the innovator. I learned back in school that the beginning of any research is tied to the question a researcher asks himself/herself.
As e-learning designers and developers, our e-learning courses should be able to engage the minds of users. I went through a course in Udemy, the instructor engaged my mind all through the course. It was never boring nor uninteresting and yet no quizzes at the end of the course. The lessons learned in that course have impacted the way I create e-learning courses. Human beings are created to create and the lead-way is questioning. Understanding is produced by questioning. Find out the reasons for everything you see, hear, and perceive. Everything God made has a purpose/reason, and the key to understanding it is “Why”
Hope it helps!
See you again next time.