Where I served in Mowe, Ogun state was a very interesting place, although I wasn’t so perked about been posted there.
I met a lot of interesting people that I am very glad I came in contact with. People like Yemi who left an indelible mark, Gbenga, who was in a world of his own and lots more lovely people.
However, the most compelling characters I met were my students. They were of diverse spec and make.
At first, I was at a loss how to relate to them, to say I was terrified is saying the least. But after a while, the heavens smiled on me and I sort of pulled through.
Now one of the things that made them remarkable was that although I was supposed to be teaching them, I learnt a lot from them.
There was a particular boy (let’s call him Danny) who was so dull it was frustrating. Now, I don’t want to go on running down a little boy. But he was among those categories of people you could call a block-head. He had a terrible handwriting, spelling issues and was also dull. You can imagine the throbbing headaches I had marking his scripts? It was a difficult task trying to decipher his words, make sense of his spellings and find coherence in his gibberish. It is an understatement to say teaching him was wearisome.
There was a second one (let’s call him Benny) just like him. But the difference was Benny had an obsession for animals and non-living things. No matter what you asked him in his examinations, he took it upon himself to list different animals for you, just in case – I’m assuming – you didn’t know them.
All the teachers were similarly frustrated, so much so we had a lot of discussions about them in the staff room. Of course we wrote them off, was sure they wouldn’t amount to much.
Till I saw Danny’s drawings. This boy drew so well if anyone needed anything that had to do with art in the school, they went to him. He is an amazing artist.
Benny also surprisingly spoke perfect grammar and talked a lot. I remembered the day I saw him talking to his mates and I was shocked, I couldn’t believe this was the same Benny that writes gibberish in his examinations. He spoke really intelligently and commanded audience from his colleagues.
Then I had an epiphany, an insight that I remembered just recently when I read something Richard Branson wrote on averages. Nobody really is a mediocre or an average, it just depends on where you put them to function. There is no creation of God who was not created for a purpose. Everybody fit in somewhere; they just might not in a formal classroom.
I saw a picture sometime ago that had inscribed on it, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb trees, it would live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Now I do not underestimate the importance of education, – because in the first place, education is vaster than the four rooms of a classroom; that is only one aspect of education – I however believe its format needs to be corrected.
Individual peculiarities should be incorporated. Is it any wonder that most of the people who turn up great were the third class students?
The world needs to come to the realization that we all have different abilities and if we were allowed to function according to our abilities, then we would discover that there are really no failures in the world.
I strongly believe if given the opportunity and not forced to learn Basic science or Mathematics, Danny would become a great artist and Benny would be an awesome orator or presenter.
If allowed to function in their capacities and not confined to a classroom because that’s what is expected, they would without little doubt, bloom.
But some of us have a chance to accept our ability.
Are you eccentric or even just different and you keep wondering why you do not fit in, then be of good cheer, you were not meant to fit in.
You were meant to stand out.
Don’t be discouraged and don’t let the world define you. You should be the one to tell the world the exact person you are. There is a reason the world calls Chimamanda Adichie, a writer and Albert Einstein, a scientist.
It is because they function(ed) in that capacity.
You have the opportunity and capacity to define yourself. Revel in your uniqueness, embrace your awesomeness.