Learning should not be constrained to the classroom

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha interacts with pupils. Photo/PD/File

One of the most outstanding effects of the outbreak of Covid-19 has been the suspension of formal delivery of education in a formal school setting.

The school provides large numbers of people with knowledge and skills a society requires to prepare children and young people for the future. It is the place where society facilitates learning.

Suspension of schooling didn’t ideally mean end of learning. Learning (as opposed to schooling) is something that happens inside a person’s mind.

It is not dependent on classrooms or teachers. It usually starts with curiosity and a search for information.

The school provides the foundation - reading, writing and ciphering - that if well established, should enable children and young people to continue learning wherever they are.

Perhaps, what effective schooling does is open up children’s minds to wide oceans of knowledge.

It takes curiosity and some level of restless to want to look for bases or storehouses of knowledge.

The knowledge that constitutes crucible of education is found in books - fiction and nonfiction books.

We have nonfiction books on basic sciences especially written to help children and young people appreciate science.

We have nonfiction books that contain knowledge or information touching the things children learn most of the arts subjects taught in schools.

We have fictional works—novels, plays, poetry, folklore—with the potential to nurture the innate expressive, creative and imaginative skills all children are endowed with.

We have materials on speeches and reports touching on problems, challenges and issues mankind has dealt with as part of the problem of living and managing in a changing environment.

These are storehouses of information, knowledge and wisdom which children and young people can give their time and energies to during these unusual times.

Although schools closed, bookshops across the country did not close. The Kenya National Library system across the country is available for children.

It has some of the finest book collections anywhere in the world. Children or parents can borrow books from the service for their children to read.

They can also borrow books from people in their neighborhoods who have a private library.

Children with the motivation to learn can actually develop a daily regime under which they can acquire education that includes and goes beyond prescribed curriculum of the school.

They can deepen and broaden what they learn in school through accessing books with high value content in basic sciences, the arts and the humanities. 

We have the responsibility as parents, guardians and educators to guide children and young people to make the most of all the learning opportunities available in their immediate environment.

We should not embrace fact that education is not confined to a course book. 

And most importantly, that education is not about examinations, important, though, they are in our modern system of education.

The prolonged closure of schools shouldn’t dampen children’s morale to learn.

They should invigorate their minds, hearts and minds by reading textbooks provided to them and venture beyond them by reading books that concerns the same concepts but which help deepen and broaden their appreciation of the knowledge, and in the process have the skill sets embodied in that knowledge strengthened.

The children should also talk to or listen to their charges. They will learn something by talking or listening to them.

The education some of the most outstanding benefactors of mankind went through was not different from paths available to current generation of children and young adults. Some had elaborate schooling.

Others had their schooling interrupted by many factors irrelevant in this article.

However, all made the best of the opportunities at their disposal and learned.

A common thread in their educational experience, however, was an abiding interest in reading and asking questions and seeking answers either from books or from comparatively knowledgeable people around them.

I have in mind such people as Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Malcolm X in the USA, Churchill in UK.

Among political leaders who had modest formal education: Tom Mboya,  J. M. Kariuki and Robert Ouko.

A study of their biographies reveal they had curiosity and read books; books that are now available to all of us.

We can take out time to read some of these books and many others are available to us.

Whatever education they give us is still valid. The writer is Communications Officer, Ministry of Education 

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