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Are We Beating Creativity Out Of Our Kids?

Discussion in 'LOVE, MARRIAGE, THE SEXES' started by blackpearl, Aug 30, 2012.

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  1. blackpearl

    blackpearl oloju come and do

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    Some weeks ago, I was at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport waiting for my flight (that flight was coincidentally suspended due to the Dana aircrash) to Lagos to be called up, when this young girl about 5 or 6 years in age suddenly gets up and starts twirling around like a ballerina. I know she was dancing like a ballerina because an older gentleman surrounded by his family stared in excitement and said “look there she goes dancing just like a ballerina!” But before his words of admiration could fully resonate into the ears of the twirling dancer, her mum screams the words most Nigerian children are used to hearing “C’mon will you sit-down!” sending the girl into a paralytic I-better-sit-down-or-am-gonna-get-whooped stance as she cowers into her seat as yet another dream is killed prematurely.

    Everywhere I go in Nigeria, I see people using the S-words on their kids “shut-up” and “sit-down.” In a country saturated with the S-word, we end up having very well behaved children that are afraid to touch toys in a toy store without the explicit approval of their parents! But who can blame them? in secondary school, I was afraid to touch computers in the computer lab.

    We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut-up and sit-down. There’s something wrong there. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

    In the early 90’s when computers were just becoming popular across the globe, we were fortunate to have some in my secondary school. But we were frightened of them, frightened because the computer teacher treated those things as sacred. We were not allowed extra time on the computers and did our boring DOS exercises and were promptly made to scoot. Anyone who tried to do anything beyond DOS was met with thunder, fire and spit from the inadvertent splashes of our computer teacher’s saliva as he yelled “stop playing around with the computers.” I doubt that I would have grown up to be a computer guru if I had the free reign to play around with the computers, but I do think that someone in my class set could have done something special with computers early on. Especially if they had the same level of computer freedom as certain silicon-valley entrepreneur did in his youth.

    Everybody knows about Bill Gates, the intelligent computer programmer who dropped out of Harvard to create arguably the most important computer company in the history of the world…Microsoft.

    His story is a tale of pure talent and genius. But what people fail to realize is that the real reason Bill Gates was successful was not solely because of an innate technical talent but rather due to a combination of talent and freedom. Freedom to explore and play with computers without being yelled and spat at.

    In the 1960s, when computers were still quite rare and computer programming was still being done with the laborious and tedious punch card system, the students at Lakeside high-school were programming with something different. It was a then sophisticated computer terminal that connected straight to a mainframe computer in downtown Seattle.

    You see, back then it was very expensive to own actual computer, so instead of spending anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 on a device, small organizations invested in what we call a time sharing computer terminal. What the terminal allowed you to do was to connect remotely to a mainframe computer and then purchase time to program with the computer. Despite the scaled down nature of the computer terminal device, it still cost a whopping $3000 to purchase. And in a time when only a few organizations could afford such a hefty price tag, the students of Lakeside high had the computer terminal device in their backyard.

    One of the students that really benefited from this was Bill Gates. He was able to practice full scale computer programming for hours on end at a time when very few people had even heard about computers. To put into perspective the significance of this exposure, one has to understand that $3000 in 1968 was way worth more than what it is now. I can imagine myself in secondary school with a $3000 computer in our computer the room, the teachers will simply just make us stare at the computer but never touch it. But in Bill’s case, he and his classmates were allowed to probe and poke at the computer freely and this is what defined his success.

    Sadly, I see too many teachers and parents not allowing their kids poke around, dance around or mess around with items, for fear that they will break, spoil or destroy it. That fear limits talents and stifles creativity but that is a fear we are used to because it is ingrained in us right from birth. I remember buying a toy action figure for our housegirl’s 2 year old son. I gave it to the son one morning and he played around excitedly with the toy. By the time I had come back home from lunch break, the toy was on the top most part of our bookshelf. It was as if Michael Jordan himself had lifted it and placed it on the shelf. But I know it was not MJ but the boy’s mother who placed the toy on the shelf. And that was where it remained for the rest day, after which I never saw the toy again. I really don’t know what happened to the toy, I would like to believe it was taken home so that the young child could play with it, but I doubt it. Because it was the same thing I experienced growing up, we got gifts, but were only allowed to play with them on special occasions such as Christmas day and Easter Holidays. The rest of the time the toys were locked up in some secret cabinet, which we had to break into from time to time (sorry mom) to access. The fact is that we were not allowed to be free with toys or computers and that lack of freedom affects one’s ability to create or be creative.

    That is why the typical (not every) Nigerian child tends to interact with their environment with hesitation, as if they are waiting for permission from their parents. While other children, run around wildly, exploring poking and yelling at their environment…sometimes with the encouragement of their parents.

    The honest truth is that if we are to raise creative children, the ones that will challenge societal norms and beliefs, we would have to let them be free. If the child in the airport was free to twirl around who knows what she could become. She could become a world renowned dancer.

    Gillian Lynne in the 1930’s suffered from a common classroom disease…boredom.

    Are We Beating Creativity Out Of Our Kids? | Bella Naija
     
  2. vince

    vince Well-Known Member

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    From generation to generation now. Each gen is as guilty as the one before, especially in Africa/Nigeria.
     
  3. Village-Boi

    Village-Boi Well-Known Member

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    Errrrrmmmmmm yes we are!!
     
  4. Gen Sani Abacha

    Gen Sani Abacha SUPREME DICTATOR

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    Too True! I think that attitude has affected Naijas technological development thereof.
     
  5. kaymax

    kaymax Well-Known Member

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    GSA, you're speaking of technological advancement, let's even talk about the basics like infrastructure. We were taught not to speak when adults are speaking, not to question authority nor question the status quo. How then can things change when there is no innovation? I'm happy there is a new generation rising up now and global influence is so easily accessible, I am sure change is on the horizon for us, it just HAS to be.
     
  6. Gen Sani Abacha

    Gen Sani Abacha SUPREME DICTATOR

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    Too True! When growing up, I was the type of child who questioned the status quo and was harshly punished for it(in boarding house sef, those housemasters no dey play o...:D)
    Though my parents were quite enlightened themselves, I found other adults weren't so tolerant. You had to put up and shut up and do things their way according to their point of view ONLY. Thank God for Generation Y.
     
  7. tunmi

    tunmi Active Member

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    I completely agree. I see it in myself and it's a hard habit to break. You want to say something, especially when you should, yet you can't muster the words to come out of your mouth for fear of some authority shouting down at you. It took me a while to overcome it but it is quite harmful to not be allowed to question anything and just expect docility and obedience.
     
  8. kaymax

    kaymax Well-Known Member

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    Fancy you ever having that problem!!!! LOL
     
  9. kaymax

    kaymax Well-Known Member

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    I thank God for my sweet Mother, she was very much in support of questioning things that did not make sense, Dad was more of a Nigerian, question nothing and question no one in a place of authority, that was dad. Thank God, my mom did not take no stuff. I remember when I was little and one 'missionary' came to complain about me questioning them about their shoes, and my dad was all apologetic and mom said 'I hope you answered her question'. The missionary was shocked, (i grew up in ogbomoso at the baptist seminary), and the missionary looked at mom cross eyed, and my mom told her how her son questioner her (my mom) about her hair and mom said she was happy to explain and 'enlighten the lad'. Then she went on to say 'I find it refreshing when children ask questions, don't you?' LOL, God Bless mumsie.
     
  10. Gen Sani Abacha

    Gen Sani Abacha SUPREME DICTATOR

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    Ahhh! Yu be seminarian, chei! Na for seminary man pikin dey hide, sek of say mek I escape una woman palava!

    Well, good on mumsie...I hope you allow my nieces and nephews freedom to ask questions of you also...:)
     
  11. kaymax

    kaymax Well-Known Member

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    Yes, my dad is a preacher! There I said it. He started at the seminary. Trust me, your nephew asks so many questions, sometimes you just want to tear your hair out. unfortunately for us, the questions are actually legitimate and make sense, so we have to answer them. The other day, he was telling me all the things that God made and how he made the earth, then my son asks me, 'but mommy, how did God make himself? Can you imagine. I told him that I don't know and the Bible does not tell us that. He then asked if God used 'Ninjago magic' and maybe God went to Sensei Wu to help make him. LOL, that was a better explanation than I could've given him...JK If that was at home and if a child said God made Himself with Magic, you know he would've received a dirty slap. And the question makes sense.
     
  12. Gen Sani Abacha

    Gen Sani Abacha SUPREME DICTATOR

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    Sister Kaymax the Seminarian, so you should be an authority on theological issues, abi ? NR folks, please direct all theological questions to Kaymax...:D

    Hahahahaha...Per your son's question, that was a question I had in mind as a young child myself, but knew better than to ask those Sunday school teachers. A few sharp raps across the knuckles with the sharp end of a ruler was a deterrent for us all....hahahahahahaha. Although those discussions took place among other like-minded children, without any adults present, that was the best we could do at the time.
     
  13. toammyb

    toammyb Born to lead and follow

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    I agree that we are beating creativity out of our kids but the writer's example did not prove anything. If a mom's told her daughter to sit down because she didn't want her to get lost in the airport, there's nothing wrong with that. Doesn't mean she's not allowed to twirl round like a ballerina in the house or in the garden or smth. The writer should've used a better example.

    Oh and by the way, if you have a child that throws tantrums everytime in Tesco or Asda Walmart because of a toy he/she already has, you'll understand why parents smack their kids for touching toys in the supermarket.

    Everything is about doing the right thing in the right place and at the right time. A'int nothing wrong with discipline. It's the lack of balance that causes problems.
     
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