African Cultural Education, Kids and Terrorism
Within the context of our changing world lies a challenge to teachers, educators, parents and all who have to deal with kids. Little has been said of these grim realities of terrorism beyond physical security threats to lives and properties. Honest confession, I thought I’d escaped all the grim news when I ditched regular reading of news dailies I’d been raised with. Alas! Social Media offered no respite. Obviously so, given the media today is a mix of the different delivery platforms that continue to grow. The evolution from print to electronic and social itself presents an opportunity to reach every audience with the news. Unfortunately, the same news makes little or no distinction for its audience range. Hence, bad news, which seem to fly the most stare us all in the face every time on multiple fronts. It’s so much that positive news have to be dug out in an exercise that’s a lot like finding a pin in a hay sack. The result is, an adult like myself has his optimism continuously put to the test on a daily basis. It’s hard to overlook these realities even within the context of our everyday core engagements.
Amidst all these are the most vulnerable of society, kids. Kids surely aren’t mature enough to handle most of these grim scenes flying around. Yet, they are presented with them on a regular basis. As one who deals with kids, I’ve had cause to engage parents on how they deal with these issues and it isn’t an easy one to deal with. Raising a child in today’s world is pretty challenging. I’m not talking about feeding or clothing them. Rather, about the mental challenges they have to deal with. It’s about the extra work that responsible adults have to do to protect these kids from the overwhelmingly disturbing information flying about. I explain from my perspective as follows.
In my experience trying to promote Cultural values among kids in Lagos, South-Western Nigeria, I’ve since realized that the issue of the terrorist group Boko Haram (which means Western Education is forbidden) don’t end in North Eastern Nigeria or all those places that have been the primary victims of the scourge. Those grim images of dead bodies, burnt houses, refugees, kidnappings as they are regularly depicted in the news media have found their ways to schools in physically unaffected areas. In one episode last summer, while engaging kids in one of my Cultural sessions, I found myself at the center of a debate outside my core. My smart 8 to 11 year old students wanted to know why all these dramas were happening. Even more, they wanted me to explain it from a cultural perspective. In other words, if I couldn’t then there was no sense in simply teaching them moral lessons that could be drawn from my African folktales.
I’ve also had to intervene when kids from a certain region are called names. These things happen. How then do you encourage a kid to learn languages from a region where its people are depicted as sub-human or terrorist? The strategy as I’ve found is to bring up the beauties of these cultures. They exist and no culture is without its good, bad and ugly. To promote harmony and further drive home these message, their needs to be a conscious drive to spread messages about the beauties of these Cultures. This involves honest understanding of the cultures themselves from a geographic and historical perspective, else, we become as confused as the students themselves.
The world has changed and even entertainment finds itself intertwined in our modern day reality. Context means a lot and education in whatever form or subject needs be in relation to the peculiar situations affecting society. That’s what I’ve experienced in my physical outreach to kids. Whether it’s taking into context gamification in our delivery or even speaking on the beauties of our society, context is every thing. Furthermore, as if the existential threats facing these cultures are not enough, we now have to contend with proving their relevance to these kids given some stereotypes that have now become attached to each. Stereotypes like terrorism or extremism means one first has to fight to peel off such before delving into the core. Make no mistake, diving into the core is a fruitless endeavor among a young audience that’s smarter than I was at their age decades ago. For one, they are smarter and have access to a host of tools that some of us weren’t privileged to in our younger days. It helps then to understand the very problems facing us as a society. It helps that we be not dampened by them or be found as chief complainants. Rather, that we help to proffer solutions in the ways that we possibly can. This can be via simple mentorship to these kids. Or simple corrections to these stereotypic issues when they are raised by our students.
The peculiarity of every society means parents and educators have issues to contend with too. It’s a universal challenge that’s even more exemplified by the global challenges facing us today such as terrorism (domestic and foreign). Is it any easy for you as teacher? Share your experience with me.