Is Formal Education A Mistake?

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It seems a lot of people are questioning the effect of formal education on their lives. Virtually every book I read these days is focused on the need to restructure the educational system and promote self-education (in the West especially United States).

I agree that this is the Information Age henceĀ  there is an abundance of information at our disposal however in a developing country like Nigeria, how do you access/critically analyse this information without formal education? How do you seek out answers from books at home, library or Internet without formal education?

Formal education is very important. It is a ticket to our future. Without it, we rely on easier and faster sources for information like television, printed materials, experts, or hearsay from immediate contacts, friends or relatives to save us the time to self-learn, think and analyse.

It must be said that formal education doesn’t guarantee anyone financial success but it removes the scales of ignorance from one’s eyes and makes your thinking mind to explore and seek several answers. As a consequence, it is a ticket out of miserable circumstances for many; a solution to our backwardness.

Nigerians (like the guy I watched on television recently) who claim formal education is nothing, I am curious to know why they think so. And what helped you to form this opinion? I need to know if they’d be opinionated or able to reason the way they do now if they had no formal education. Formal education gives you a certain level of exposure and thence the will to chase self-education and become an autodidact.

“Autodidacts are the self learners who quench their hungry and inquisitive minds by self learning and finding answers to their questions themselves” – Maaher Sayeed

The problem with our formal education is that we are/were all taught to be status- and result-oriented. Most people believe formal education is all about amassing certificates and titles whilst bragging about them to anyone who cares to listen.

The truth is that what really matters is the transferable and non-transferable skills you pick up. Don’t miscontrue my point, I am not saying having a good grade/result is bad. No! Nevertheless, due to the keeness to have titles attached to our name, cram-la-pour has become a ritual. This is beneficial in the interim but useless in the long run.

“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke

Also, many go to school and focus solely onĀ  academics or social life and when they are thrown out in the real world, they realise their inadequacies and deficiencies. There’s definitely a reason why the Igbo word for a University is “Mahadum” but I prefer to call it “Marahadum” which literally means know them all. The best advice you can give to a student going into school is to allow the school pass through him/her as s/he passes through the school. That way, s/he would be equipped with formal, non-formal and informal education.

I concur that there are certain things you can’t learn in a classroom because experiences shape up our lives. However, in this third world country, you need formal education to ditch crowd mentality, hearsays and blindly conforming to borrowed wisdom, and base your opinions on balanced and educated thinking. As a consequence, formal education paves the way for self-education.

Overthinking kills

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As humans, we think all the time, consciously and subconsciously. Thinking is a wonderful tool for education. It helps us generate information that can motivate and inspire us.

However, sometimes we get stuck worrying about something that happened or something that will happen. Some are constantly worrying about posting the perfect picture on social media, analyzing people’s statuses, spend much time thinking about to tweet or wondering why someone just unfollowed them on Instagram.

We all over-think in one way or another. Whether it is general worries about the future, self-worth, decisions or regrets, we are often overwhelmed by our own thoughts as we try to analyse our steps from every angle imaginable.

As we over-think, we become stuck in our heads; we fear being wrong. We become rooted in fear, doubt and uncertainty. The human mind abhors uncertainty.

Uncertainty implies danger so we try to take cover and protect ourselves. Over-thinking often comes with paranoia. Everything seems more dangerous than it actually is.

For instance, you have a crush on someone but you are afraid to make the move because you are uncertain of what his/her response would be. So you over-think approaching the person and making your feelings known and in the end, convince yourself it is best not to say anything.

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Also, when one is diagnosed with certain ailments or has certain symptoms, s/he over-thinks and believes the wall is closing in on him/her. One fears the uncertainty surrounding his/her future because of the sickness. As a result, over-thinking kills faster than the sickness itself.

When we over-think, we focus on what if instead of what is and this can have  a devastating effect on our health. We become engrossed in our own thoughts and emotions that we zone out and become numb to people, places, and things around us. We lose our identity; we forget who we are.

Knowledge is a wonderful tool but too much of it can make one over-think and paranoid. When faced with difficult decisions, we try to acquire information from our environment, friends and family. We generate many possible solutions to a particular problem that we succumb to over-thinking.

Over-thinking gets you nowhere. It can kill your happiness. If you are over-thinking an experience, limiting the number of people you talk with can help you think soundly. The best thing you can do if/when you over-think is take action and take a step forward.

Everybody is going to over-think and over-analyse once in a while but it is best to minimise these thoughts and make them productive.

Are you an over-thinker?

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your view on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.

Procrastination: Good And Bad

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I have been trying to write this article since my last post but procrastination got the best of me and I’ve found myself giving excuses why I shouldn’t.

Sounds familiar? I guess so. You have something important to get done but you keep putting it off till the very last minute.

We are all guilty of procrastination – one way or another. Everybody procrastinates at some point for a variety of reasons, some of which are unconvincing to anyone including ourselves.

Procrastination is a bad habit that can prevent one from meeting his/her deadline or preparing well for an exam/meeting/interview. As a result, it is a basic tool for prioritisation and time management.

As students, we procrastinate for assignments, dissertation, thesis and/or exam at some point. For instance, it’s exam time and you’ve planned to make most of your day but at the end of the day you find out that you’ve actually read for just an hour and wasted time sleeping, watching television, cleaning your room, calling your friends/family, surfing the net, chatting or whatever other diversion you can devise.

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We try to avoid doing an important task by becoming involved with less important tasks. In the end, we feel guilty, race against time and thence put ourselves under unnecessary pressure/stress due to our fire-brigade approach to things.

Fear may be the reason why we procrastinate. The fear of failure or success can prevent one from doing a task even when s/he knows s/he should. We are often afraid to start a task because it appears tedious, or don’t know how/where to start, or feel our effort will not be appreciated.

Fear can make one anxious when faced with a task but imagine the adrenaline rush one feels when a deadline for an important task (that will not be completed because of procrastination) is around the corner. We often procrastinate to avoid stress but are faced with even more stress, anxiety, shame and guilt in the long run.

Completing your work on time gives one a sense of strength, peace of mind and self-control. It saves you from receiving an earful from your boss and also, mental stress which be harmful to your health.

However, procrastination isn’t always a bad thing; it can be a good thing. It is sometimes good to procrastinate. Sometimes it is good to delay life decisions; take a step back, relax and think the whole thing through.

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Sometimes we can get too emotionally attached to a problem and become psychologically drained to come up with a solution. For instance, replying a mail or SMS when one is angry can make one regret his/her actions but procrastination can help one come up with the most useful answer.

Procrastination can give you a break from work which is actually a good thing. Being glued to your work can leave you stressed and out of ideas. Procrastination helps you to take some time out to re-energise thereby improving the quality of your work.

During my Master’s degree, I found my dissertation hectic. I spent months trying to find the solution to a problem. Surprisingly, the solution came to me when/where I least expected it. I took my foot off the pedal, travelled and came up with a solution whilst taking a shower.

Procrastination is a natural phenomenon. Some tasks will always be more important than others on our scale of preference. We have to purposefully prioritise the important ones and defer the less important ones.

Procrastination becomes a problem when it is used as a form of escape from reality or when it diminishes productivity. Learn to procrastinate well.

Thank you for making out time to read this article. If you have enjoyed it, please comment and share your view on this issue. Also, do like, share and follow the blog.