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” I was a backbencher who was intelligent, yet hated school ”

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Ngozi Ilondu

Ngozi Ilondu is a Marketing Professional with experience that spans across various industries, on a mission to build unconventional brands out of Nigeria. She is the author of The Chronic School Hater, a colourful, hilarious but practical book that helps teenagers redefine the way they learn instead of waiting for educational reform. When she is not helping companies to create innovative solutions and understand trends that will shape the future of their industry or working with teenagers.

The multifaceted, curious, adventurous lady who believes in contributing her quota to making Nigeria a country future generations will be proud of, shares insights with IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA on writing the book as well as helping parents, guardians and teachers understand how to deal with students’ hatred for school.

What motivated you to write your book?

I WROTE Chronic School Hater because I felt that there was something missing in the conversation of educational reform in Nigeria.

The general advice available for students that didn’t do well in school centered on putting in more hours to read without considering how interesting what they were reading was and people’s learning styles.

There was really no one speaking from the other side of the room – the backbenchers club.

My motivation was based on the fact that most of these advice came from people who excelled at school and do not know what it feels like to be disconnected from school.

I wrote the book from my experience being a backbencher, who was intelligent yet an average student.

Someone who liked school because of the people in it, but had no connection to the institution nor the boring classes we had to put up with.

I wrote the book to say to those students who hate school that I understand their pain; I have walked in their shoes before and hence my suggestions.

I also wrote this because I realised that time is running out and we can’t keep waiting for government to change the system, students can and should be empowered to take responsibility for their learning experience.

Are there shortfalls in the society that the book is addressing?

The major shortfall is the misconception of intelligence and the belief that 25 students in a classroom should assimilate information the same way according to what the marking scheme expects.

Every student has a learning style and this affects how he or she receives information, process it and report it during assessments.

The problem occurs when the marking scheme demands that the definition of a term meets a certain textbook definition whereas a student who is not wired to memorise may know the answer, understand it but cannot quote the exact textbook definition.

Through this book, we aim to get students, parents and teachers to rethink the concept of intelligence, reading, memorisation, and even basic understanding of what has been taught.

Students should want to learn and not learn because they are required to. At the end, our charge to the students is to ensure that everything they learn makes sense to them.

Has social media played a positive or negative role to school hating?

I think social media has not played any direct role in how students feel about school, instead, it has offered them a community where they can meet other students like them who share the same emotions about school.

It is amazing how most people share similar school struggles even though they all went to different schools in different states.

We can only attribute social media to being a distraction for students who have schoolwork to attend to, but that is a different conversation.

Most children at the primary school level now actually enjoy going to school especially private schools.

This is because a lot of schools are learning to create a fun and inclusive environment where the children will be happy to come to daily.

We also find that most teachers at the primary school level for private schools are a lot nicer to the children.

Even with all that, some students still do not like school and that can be attributed to the fear of tests and exams and the emotional rollercoaster that comes with preparing for assessment.

At the secondary school level, we see more students that are disconnected and do not enjoy being in the four walls of a classroom, but will put up with the school environment because of their friends.

We haven’t seen a lot of change at the secondary school level with the way learning is administered because most schools still believe in forcing knowledge down the students’ throat and threatening them with failure if they do not conform to the expected standard of the marking scheme.

Most secondary schools are at the early stages of using Internet tools and gadgets to learn.

What peculiar reasons are responsible for some students’ inability to appreciate schooling?

The average student that hates school does so because he/she has no connection to what they are learning.

They want subjects to make sense, they want to connect what they are learning.

They want to know how Pythagoras theorem can be applied in real life.

Until we get them to that place where they see why they are learning what they are learning and how it makes sense in the real world, they will keep shrugging their feet to class.

Any advise to parents, guardians on how their children, wards should be handled to appreciate schooling?

Parents should stop the comparison game.

What role should teachers play in ensuring that students appreciate their work?

Teachers need to be more patient and open- minded in dealing with students.

Like Stephen Covey said, “seek to understand, then be understood.”

Learn what it takes to make learning fun and apply it to your classroom and teaching methods.

Let what they are learning make sense to them. Get in on pop culture and use relatable stories and examples to teach.

Can we explain math with stories first before we introduce numbers?

Who should read The Chronic School Hater?

Teenagers who have no connection to school and the parents and teachers in their lives.

Is this your first authored book?

This is my first book and baby, my pride and joy. There will be another book in the nearest future.

Tell us a bit about growing up?

I had a very interesting childhood.

I was always the different one, that child that is just in a different universe, non-conformist, not very good at blending in because someone says so, yet very creative and introverted.

I belong to the percentage of people whose parents actually came first in school. I am number two in a family of four.


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