Education system: Career success not dependent on KCSE grades only
Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta amused people at an event when he observed that some parents force their children to become doctors when they cannot even stand the sight of a goat’s blood.
In posing the rhetorical question, he touched on one of the most difficult dilemmas that face students and parents in an education system where career choice is based on grading.
The assumption has been that students who score excellent grades are suited for the so-called “valuable” careers such as medicine, engineering and law based on societal standards.
The truth of the matter is that intelligence which excellent grades reveal is not an absolute predictor of excellence in a career students choose solely based on KCSE scores.
Traditional schooling teaches students important skills, such as math, science and writing. It does little, however, to help them uncover what they should do with their lives.
Excellent grades in KCSE do not necessarily mean that one has ability and inclination for medicine or finance or any other course.
This is part of the educational malaise that Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) aims to cure. It seeks to identify and nurture every learners potential, not just in academics but also in interests, inclinations and hobbies.
The Multiple Intelligences theory (MI) which CBC recognises in its curriculum vision is one of the most radical features of the education reform. The curriculum recognises there is more than one form of intelligence and all are valid for our economy.
There are different types of intelligences which CBC acknowledges. They include Logical Intelligence, which is the ability to perform mathematics and think in an orderly manner.
Linguistic Intelligence is the ability to acquire and use language effectively while Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to interact socially with others. Musical Intelligence is the ability to keep a beat, play instruments, sing, etc. There are several others.
Knowledge of Multiple Intelligences is only half the story. What is important is how people use their intelligences to the optimum.
American educator Steven Rudolph extended the scope and applicability of Multiple Intelligences.
In his book The 10 Laws of Learning, Rudolph theorised that while people have eight intelligences, they tend to use these abilities in nine different ways. He identified nine tendencies that guide our behaviour which he code-named Multiple Natures (MN).
The MN in question are protective nature —the tendency to prevent harm, loss, injury, mistakes or wrongdoing; educative nature, administrative nature, healing nature and creative nature.
Others are entertaining nature, providing nature, entrepreneurial nature and adventurous nature.
According to Rudolph, when you look at a person’s combined Multiple Intelligences and Multiple Natures, you can see a unique personality that emerges.
He argues that it is the person’s nature which influences how he acts: types of activities he is attracted toward, things he naturally enjoys doing and things he is naturally good at. Intelligence alone is not enough.
A student may get Straight As in KCSE, but if he does not have tendency to guide others to recover from physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual imbalance, or pain, he will make for a lousy doctor even after training.
This is the ‘doctor who will faint at the sight of the blood of a goat. Our ‘doctor’ here will never know the satisfaction of work, of relieving pain, to earn the honour of being a doctor.
Such dilemmas face many students. In many cases, the careers they take don’t correspond to their natures. Stories are told of children getting into a course parents chose for them, getting the degree paper, and handing it to the parent.
Had such parents known something about abilities, inclinations and natures, they would force their children to enrol in courses which are against their natures.
It is the reason the Basic Curriculum Framework, which is the blueprint of CBC, “considers every learner’s social and cognitive capabilities, their needs and desires, and respects the differences in the way children learn.” The writer is communications officer, Ministry of Education