In my last discussion on this topic, the conclusion was, much more than ever before, the Africa continent needs mind-freedom than physical-freedom. As I speak now, the majority of Africans are largely tied to the mindset of the foreigners. It’s difficult now to differentiate our indigenous thinking from that of the foreigner’s because all thinking pattern has been influenced by foreigners’ mindset. We can’t even think unless some set of people from another country gives us direction. It’s to this end that my discussion this week revolves around-mind-freedom.
I have decided to tag this as “Independent thinking” There are some questions we need to ask ourselves to set the tone of this discussion: what’s our idea about every aspect of our national life? What’s its genesis? Taking each of these questions more elaborately would assist us to dissect our idea and thereafter suggest whose thinking is ruling us, in Africa.
For instance, taking the educational sector as a litmus test sample, what’s our idea about it? Whom can we say is educated? An educated person most time is a person who communicates in the English language, but a cursory look into Nigeria’s philosophy of education shows a person’s idea and his interaction with his environment is central. A person’s idea and the interaction of that person’s idea with its environment is key in tagging an individual educated. So, a man of an idea is an educated man. It’s not literacy in a particular language that makes an individual educated. It’s an idea.
An educated person is a man full of ideas.
It doesn’t matter if you can communicate in impeccable English, French, Spanish, German, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, and Chinese language, and what you are saying does not translate into an idea that could solve the problem of our world, you are not educated.
An educated individual is an ideated individual.
And an idea is originated within an individual based on the ability and capacity to question assumptions in the environments. But again, it has been said that idea generation is easy but the execution is everything, adding that up to our discussion, it’s clear that an educated person can formulate ideas and implement or execute the formulated ideas. Therefore, if you can’t generate ideas and execute the ideas, you are not educated regardless of your ability to communicate in any of the aforementioned languages.
However, the next question is, where does an individual get his idea from? Is it from within himself or from somewhere else? Where we get our idea from shows whether we are dependent or independent thinkers. Hence, the focus of our discussion this week-Independent thinking.
Independent thinking simply means when an individual or a nation creates his ideas by himself through observations, interaction, and reflections, and he does not wait for others to show him/her how. Looking at this description, it’s clear that an independent thinker creates ideas but not from looking somewhere else. How does a person think independently? Independent thinking is executed through three processes:
Observation is a deliberate look into what is within the reach of the eyes. Observation is an intentional look into our environments and communities to identify tangible and conceivable concepts, ideas, problems, facts, etc. Observation does not occur when you intentionally ignore the most vivid facts in the community. Therefore, an independent thinking person or nation first observes his/her community and environment to identify what’s the most common factor in that community.
Critical observation does not occur without interaction. An observer must interact with the environment by asking questions just like Socrates did with the young men of his days. In Africa, there are 54 countries apart from 4 dependent territories, Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa has 36 states apart from the state capital, Abuja. And in each of the states, there are a lot of cities, towns, villages, and sub-villages blessed with enormous resources both human and non-human. With these vast resources at our disposal, we should not be poor at all. What we are lacking is independent thinking. We need to embark on deliberate interaction with the communities and create our ideas. Ideas form the basis of our relationship and national development.
Having observed and interacted with the community, the next phase in generating independent thinking occurs at phase three, which is “reflections” This is the last point of generating independent ideas. Reflection is connecting the dots, crossing the teeth, merging facts, deducing logical reasoning, formulating policies, synthesizing facts after analysis. Etc. It’s at this point that policies that resonate with our culture are generated, and because they are generated through these processes, the implementation would be seamless.
In the learning and development space, some of the ideas in terms of strategies, models, and authoring tools we talk about in Africa are not our ideas. e.g. Flip learning. I remember when Flip learning was at the fore-front of discussion, especially at the University of Ibadan, it became the only strategy everyone of us in EdTech wanted to research, I nearly based my Ph.D. focus on it, but later on, things went sideways. It’s very interesting to note that some of the strategies being used in Nigeria educational system today almost started from the University of Ibadan, e.g The use of Edmodo platform started at the University of Ibadan back in 2011, now everybody is talking about Edmodo, even some private companies are advancing Edmodo as though it originated from them. We seem to have first-hand information in Educational Technology Space, as proud as we are at the University of Ibadan, all that we lay our hands on are the products of some independent thinking people from other continents (Schoology, Ning, Edmodo, Collaborised Classroom, Quizlet).
I remember some years ago, precisely, 2015, when I was opportune to travel with my professor (Ayotola Aremu) on training MEPIN professionals in Nigeria on e-learning tools, a tool like Edmodo was mentioned, and it was as if we were speaking Greek to a large sum of people from other geo-political zones. Some of the platforms we use in the world today are not from the Africa continent. All of these tools are the products of independent thinking of some persons. We need reflections more than ever before.
Do not forget, Independent thinking involves three interrelated processes: observations, interactions, and reflections.
Who is an educated person? Are you educated because you are fluent in one particular language or the other?
Is your thinking independent? Regardless of your race, level of education, and exposure, your thinking must be independent to be said you are educated.
Let’s begin today on the journey of independent thinking.
I will continue next time on Inter-dependent thinking.
Hope it helps.
Creating human-focused learning!