The one thing I regret about school and how I became an Academic Rebel
When my lovely parents started taking me to school, I didn't know why they were doing it. In fact, I didn't know I was schooling.
I loved the packed lunch and meeting the other kids, but the exercise itself, being a kid, was meaningless like as is the case with most of you.
But when I came of age and understood the value of Education, I was grateful to what my parents were doing and I started taking my studies seriously.
By the time I reached “O” Level in Mwiri, I was exposed to several Ideas. I had a better understanding of the world, my country, culture, science and the arts. I had a leaning towards the Sciences — especially Physics. Man I read Abbot (Ordinary Level Physics: A.F. Abbott) upside down so much so that my classmates nicknamed me “Abbot”. I also liked “Physics for today and tomorrow” by Tom Duncan. Great books for those days. I was excited about the possibilities Science would offer.
I didn't care much about what the teacher taught in class. I studied to suck in gallons of knowledge — for my personal curiosity. I developed a liking for space so much so that I harbored thoughts of working with NASA. I know, “Crazy” is the word you’re looking for. Even though I passed the UNEB exams with a D1 in most subjects, I never read to pass exams.
But all this changed in “A” Level.
It’s the most torturous period of my academic life I recall. I went to Namilyango or “Ngo” as Ngonians call it and I joined the rat race to join University.
Suddenly, my priorities changed from reading for fun, curiosity, gather knowledge to passing Exams so as to join University, pursue a specific “marketable” course — on Gov’t sponsorship. I did and am proud of myself and those that supported me.
When I joined Engineering school, like most of my friends, my reason for studying was to pass exams, get a degree so that I stand good chances of getting a great job.
Gosh….I almost fell for it.
But around around 2nd year, I had began to be sick of this notion of studying just to pass Exams. One particular course unit called “Materials” ticked me off. The Professor intentionally made it so freaking hard, let alone the course content being so 1940. I decided to read only to avoid a retake and move on with my life which I did. I remember I got 56% on that course Unit and that was it.
I was done with studying for the sake of passing exams.
By 3rd year, I started exploring things I loved — really — again. During my Senior six vacation, I had worked in an internet cafe where I started to learn about computers and the internet. So spent more time in the faculty computer lab Geeking around and surfing the internet for anything that interested me. I read blogs — Tech blogs majorly like Engadget, GigaOM, Readwrite and Techcruch.
By 4th year, I was officially an academic rebel. I wasn't attending lectures more than half the times. Instead, I spent my time researching and doing my final year project. It involved making calls over the internet which was really cool. Keep in mind, I wasn't failing my exams. Actually I successfully graduated without doing a single retake, but It was all to just get over with!
Today, I read. A lot. Except this time, I've no exam to do. So I read to amuse myself, for curiosities sake, to gather knowledge and be informed. I've read history. Ancient history such as the Roman empire, Greece, British empire and even Ugandan History. I didn't know I would find so much pleasure reading history. I've read poetry, travel, culture, cooking, Faith — for the fun of it!
It got to a point where I had gathered so much knowledge, I had to share it. So I started blogging immediately after my degree consistently with passion. I started blogging about Tech stuff with a focus on Africa and Uganda. That hobby blog which later came to be known as Techpost, then Dignited has now grown to be one of the most respected voices in African Technology thanks to some great people I work with. More great stuff is coming from these efforts in the future.
Today, am actively researching and sometimes writing about the changing landscape of Education. Am one those people who strongly believe the education system is broken — globally — and most importantly wants to be a change marker in that area.
I look back and ask myself what would have become of me if only I didn't study for the sake of passing exams.