Friday, June 28, 2013

What's all the fuss about reading?



In my previous post on educated illiterates,I touched briefly on our role in our own education,especially when the educational system isn't designed to teach us the many things we need to actually be productive and successful.One of the most important ways we can do this is simply by reading.

It is recommended that we read at least everyday.However,if I were to do a brief survey I wonder what your answer will be?Why don't we find out? There's a short survey below.You can select multiple answers.It will only take 5 seconds and will help you to think about your reading habits carefully.

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Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.



Now that you're done,why do you think you don't read if you don't read?Why do you read if you do read?I know that a lot of people will say that reading is no longer fun because the schools made it compulsory,and by definition,just a school activity.Therefore once we finish school,we start to think there's no need to read.But that's where you're wrong!Reading is one of the single most important determinants of how much you know.I know you may think that knowing stuff isn't important,but if the stuff you know is related to your success in life,then you need to know.For example,nobody will teach you how to write a statement of purpose or motivation.If you don't read,you will always write a sub-standard statement.Besides,knowledge is never a bad thing.You never know when that tip you read for instantly banishing a back ache will come in handy.Besides,aren't you tired of hearing this snide remark about hiding information from an African in a book?Reading stimulates your brain far more than music or video does.When you read a book,especially fiction,you are forced to picture what you read in your mind along with the dialogue that goes on.When you watch a movie its all just there.There's no need for you to use your imagination and you use less of your brain capacity.Next time you're told to be more creative or imaginative,maybe you need to find a good book,get some juice or water and start reading it.Reading opens up your mind to a world of possibilities far beyond what you can see,touch or smell.You learn to use your most powerful resource,your mind,to create a world where everything is possible.Because of this in 'real life' you are likely to be more open to ideas and be more creative with your solutions.You will be more likely to be the one trying new things because you're more adventurous and see less limitations than those who do not read.If you want to be more analytical,reading a simple mystery book and trying to solve it on your own is a great way to improve your analytical thinking.Reading helps to improve your memory,because you have to retain what you read in a previous chapter,the characters or the main points of what you're reading,the background and all other stuff in order to keep going and for the book to make sense.That requires memory.And let's not forget the vocabulary!Your ability to express yourself will improve dramatically if you would just read some good material more often.So if you are having a problem with public speaking or with asking a girl out(lol) go read a good book!For those that want to be writers,no good writer exists that does not read a lot.Thats how you learn what style of writing to use,which one you're good at and enjoy and of course just the words to write.If you want to write but do not read,you aren't going anywhere my friend.Just read!Of course I saved the best for last.Reading is FUN!Its relaxing,relieves stress and helps to keep you at rest.I know some of you don't believe me,but try it.Get a really good book on a rainy night,curl up under some blankets, and just stay up reading with some hot cocoa or tea or juice or whatever.Its entirely up to you,but trust me,it is one of the most enjoyable things you'll ever do.I hope a non-reader is going to become a reader because of this post.If your education hasn't taught you everything,you can still learn a lot.Just get of Facebook for a while or stop that game or movie and read!Need I say more?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Educated Illiterates:Whose fault?

This post is going to be quite controversial,but I try to tell the truth no matter what.If you don't agree with me,comment and let me know.Better still,write a rebuttal and tag me.I'll read it,I promise!
Currently,Ghana is considered a lower middle income earning country,which means we are in that weird place where we aren't considered dirt poor and in need of serious aid,but are still really quite broke.When I saw this classification,I immediately thought of several things,some of which I shared in an earlier post on this blog.You can read that post here if you missed it.

Most recently though,I have begun to question this so called status again in light of certain observations I have made about graduates in Ghana.I don't think anyone will quibble with me over the fact we have issues with our educational system,but when I look at the caliber of people produced from the various universities and tertiary institutions in the form of 'graduates',I begin to wonder if its just an issue with our educational system or there's also some personal responsibility involved.

Since I am from a science background,let me talk about that for a minute.How many graduates of the various science programs in universities in Ghana are actually equipped for real hands-on scientific work?The final year research we are made to do is unsatisfactory, and to top that off most of us are usually too busy cramming for exams to read anything in the form of scientific literature.Most Science grads do not even know what a publication is,have no idea how to read and digest the information or how to use that information for their own purposes in a legal manner.Maybe I'm being too critical,but when even Masters and PhD degree students are no better,there is cause for concern.

Let's move away from Science shall we?Let's talk about the Master's Craze in Ghana.Everyone graduating from the university decides to pursue a Masters degree either because they can't find a job or everyone else is doing it so they also want to do it.A classic example is the thousands of MBAs awarded each year,not to students who have actually learnt anything and will be better for it(with very few exceptions) but to students that have been rushed through some classes and exams,made to cram more than they did in high school or college and then probably paid to have someone write a thesis for them(sorry if I offend anyone here).Is the Masters degree a simple extension of college now with the cramming and memorization?How do we expect to produce any kind of equipped grads with this kind of educational attitude?All the schools seem to be interested in now is money,and most of our graduates are apparently not circumspect enough in their reasoning and rush to do all these programs.I understand that there is a shortage of jobs,but is a Masters degree really a fix?Do you need another degree attained with cramming and memorization  to get an entry level job?

This is such an appalling situation,much like the monopolisation of medical schools in Ghana by the rich and by certain families(I didn't even know that medicine was now a family inheritance..smh).Before even considering a Masters degree,you need to sit and decide what you want to do with your career.How is an MBA necessary if all you ever wanted to do was teach for example(unless you're going to teach business or run a company)?Why do a PhD if you want to just be a lawyer?I understand that because most of us think that our options are limited,we decide to just do whatever is available,but if there's anything education was supposed to have done,it was to open our eyes to all of the opportunities we do have.If our education failed to do that,then it is up to us to educate ourselves by reading more and being more open to other options apart from those everyone else sees.Most of us after graduation never even bother to read anything anymore.Not textbooks,not newspapers or personal development literature,not even novels.How do we expect to be educated when we will not  do the basics ourselves and read?Or has our educational system made reading so boring and not fun that we can't see it as a helpful and fun activity?

This is  what makes a graduate educated,in my opinion,the ability to see and utilise opportunities other people have not seen or utilised, the will and desire to solve problems and not just get jobs and make money.Let's stop blaming the system,because we all know its bad, and actually do something on ourselves.After all,the same educational system has produced exceptional graduates.What makes you unable to be an exception too?Until we begin to see education as more than a pathway to get a job on the part of students and as a business on the part of schools,we will keep producing graduates who are actually illiterate,unskilled and unprepared to face and solve actual real world problems and will compound the problems we already do have as a country.Enough said!