Dear Education Minister, here’s how to make schooling more fun
Sometimes, people tell me that I am in a positon to make a difference. Other times, people tell me that I am in a position to do something. I don’t see either of those two.
What I see is an opportunity to talk about what I have seen, what I have learned, and where I have been.
Last month, I had the privilege to speak at a new kind of education institution in the US, called the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta Georgia.
In November 2017, the school was visited by Oprah Winfrey. At the end of her visit, she called it the best school in America, and then made a donation of $5 Million Dollars. Wow, now that’s a lot of money.
The school is just about 10 years old, and they have done everything so differently from the day they started.
Why would Ms Oprah Winfrey call the Ron Clark Academy the best school in America?
You should watch some of their videos on ronclarkademy.org, so you can understand exactly what I am talking about. Okay, let me share with you the little I know.
First, the school was co-founded by a gentlemen who was named in 2000 as America’s Best Teacher by Disney for his work with disadvantaged schools in Harlem – New York.
He is from North Carolina, and first gained prominence because he did everything he could, to get students interested in studying while at school.
This included dressing in costumes in class, or standing on his head to make a point, or dancing in class, and many other creative things. Okay, this is what he chose to do, so I am not asking all teachers to do the same.
Guess what, the school has had more than 46,000 educators from more than 22 countries visit them to see what makes the Ron Clark Academy so special.
Now, I don’t know of any other school, that has received more visiting teachers, who even though they are already employed, visited the school to learn how to make their own students more interested in schooling and education.
Which means maybe they are doing something right.
So, when I was invited to speak there last month in March and to spend a day with the students, I didn’t know what to expect.
The students and teachers wanted to hear my own story about how I got into Education Advocacy, why I do it, and why I bother world leaders to do something about issues that affect us all, especially children.
They wanted their students to know that they can make a difference at any age.
While I was being given a tour around the school, I watched the students dance on their desks in one class, I watched a teacher teach his students with rap songs in another class, and before I knew it, I too was invited to do some group dance with the students and teachers. It was really fun, and this was all in the classroom.
I forgot I was in school, but I soon saw what made the students excited. The best part was I learned about the fantastic results of all the students in the school, at the end of every year.
In April last year, I visited some schools in Lagos, to speak to them about what I do as a film maker. One of the schools was the Akande Dahunsi Memorial School.
The students were very excited, I think one of the reasons is because they had never been taught by someone their age before, but second, they had never been taught a career before, like film making.
We laughed, they screamed, and shared their own ides too about film making, and at the end of the session, the students refused to return to their classroom.
Everything they had been taught till then had been theoretical stuffs, and subjects like Geography, English, History etc. Those are cool subjects, but there is nothing exciting about them. So, maybe if we are going to teach those subjects, maybe we should make them exciting – colorful, creative, and just fun.
As a very simple example, wouldn’t it be cool if the school principals dressed in career gears once a week, to school? Like, as a Doctor, or a Pilot, or an Astronaut, or a Lawyer.
I think the students would be excited, right from the morning assembly line, and that would just start their day on an exciting note.
Okay, I know that some of you already have 50 or 100 reasons why this wouldn’t happen, but what if a principal or school teacher does it anyway. What is the worst that could happen?
Maybe the students would giggle and whisper. What’s the best that could happen – maybe the students would get very excited and ask the principal or teacher a million questions.
Today, technology has put Africa on the same starting footing as Europe and America in some cases, with Social Media and the Internet.
Why can’t Education be used to do the same thing too?