According to Albert Einstein; “There are two aspects to every person’s mind-the rational side and the intuitive. The rational side of our minds is the part meant to serve us through life, but the intuitive side is a divine gift. Unfortunately, we have been born into a society that only values the rational side while ignoring or disregarding their intuitions. That is why only few venture to explore the creative side of their minds.”
The masters of the world depend on creativity and innovation to surmount challenges faced by humans. These people are trying to do things differently in order to make a difference! Richard Branson is always trying to create a new business to solve a particular problem, be it a low budget transatlantic airline or revolutionary cheaper environmentally friendly fuel; while Oprah tries to expand her media empire by adding a book club or a television channel.
Barrack Obama tries to be the first black president of the most powerful country in the world; meanwhile a Senegalese-born French speaking American singer, Akon is hitting world charts with songs in his second language, English, after putting his jail experiences to paper, discovers the sleeping musical giant in himself, behind bars.
Meanwhile we are obsessed with making sure that our children pass examinations instead of making sure that they are reading books and any kind of books for that matter.
Are we offering our children the opportunity to explore their talent?
As Michael Phelps makes history extolled in the world book of records for being first to win eight gold medals at the Olympics just for being a good swimmer; are we going the give to our children the chance to watch and get challenged to dream of dethroning Phelps’s one day?
Are we allowing our children to think about going to space one day or we are simply challenging them to work hard so that they can qualify to go to the National University of Rwanda, and if we can afford to send them abroad to Harvard or Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)?
Do we build in our children the curiosity and thirst for knowledge, expose them to the world of information and let them find a fitting career or art, according to their own creativity?
Or we force the so-called prestigious academic careers like medicine, engineering, or law down their throats, only for them to either fail to make the bar set to study these careers or if they make it, they later realize that a prestigious career is only that, prestigious and that the money it comes with is at best. Is this not pitiable?
In most homes, children who are seen to deviate from advancing in formal education to pursue creative arts exclusively are often sigmatised as they are perceived as drop outs or as career failures. Until they are able to get their daily bread and butter through fame perhaps, from the stroke of a brush, the music from their vocal chords, the kicking of a ball.
Before that sadly our society sees them as just failures who sacrificed a good future of education to pursue a dream or a hobby.
Kenyan artist Justus Kyalo, says creativity in art gives birth to creativity in reasoning to solve mathematical problems, to innovation in science and technology and so on.
“You or I - would be fast to throw stones at the government and policy makers who could have refused to just stand by and do nothing about improving or even maintaining arts, crafts and cultural studies in Kenya’s schooling systems,” he continues.
In ‘The purpose of education’, Dr Martin Luther King Junior, writes; “It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life.”
Note the use of the word, utility (defined as the quality of being of practical use). Education therefore should a means rather than an end. Education does not assure one of success in life but enables them or gives the tools to pursue targeted life goals.
Martin Luther goes on to say that education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the truth from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
This kind of education may be as a result of formal education but in most cases is not expressly provoked by formal education.
We can say that in Africa, the quality of educational curriculum under which the creative and innovative potential of students would fall, may be over looked as countries struggle to increase overall enrolment into school, for basic subjects.
An interesting aspect of how in Rwanda for example ICT is being incorporated into the education system is a very exciting possibility.
Imagine a child in Rubavu, having access to the wealth of information available on Wikipedia or just being aware that he/she can Google any topic of information and within seconds find millions of answers.
We can assume that the importance is to learn to use computers, but the truth of the matter is that one day, this pupil will stumble on the Harry Potter mania and wonder how a book can stir such fervor and make millions for its author, how entrepreneurship is championed, how talent is build and given opportunity to grow.
When they read that one Christiano Ronaldo, a teenager is about to be paid thousands of pounds a week to play football, they will begin to realize that their options are limitless.
A million questions will pop up in their little brains if they have been groomed to be curious, and if not they will simply wish away those questions and get back to playing with paper footballs.
If they get even vague answers to those questions, they will not be satisfied and will become more curious. They will begin to imagine little worlds in their heads and they will learn that their options are limitless, they will think more.
As much as they read for their exams, they will learn to read out of curiosity and you never know if right there you will make a famous biologist, a celebrated writer, a popular singer or a much sought after researcher in the behavior of mountain gorillas.