It’s Monday morning. The alarm rings at 5 am but you snooze it repeatedly. You do it so subconsciously but it’s an art that you have mastered excellently well that it doesn’t interrupt your shallow sleep.

Regret

In all honesty, you don’t want to wake up. The heaviness and the warmth of your duvet’s embrace refuse to let go.

Then you finally muster the strength to wake up at 6:45 am. Your eyes are heavy with sleep. Your chest is clogged with heaviness. There is a cloud of fear that hangs over your head. Your mind registers a periodic migraine. From Sunday, you have been silently mourning the end of the weekend which appeared shorter than a hiccup.

Your performance at work is lethargic. Your attitude sucks. You are constantly drained of energy. Your enthusiasm is nonexistent. You are miserable.

Your conscience constantly reminds you that you are not doing what you love. You are a fish forced to climb a tree but every time you fail, you are called foolish. You are an accountant by day but you want to be a full-time photographer. You are a procurement officer but you harbor dreams of flying.

But you have to do the routine anyway. You have to report to this shitty job because rent must be paid. You have to sit your ass in that seat for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The few leave days you have are so short that you drag along the hangover like a beast of burden. Indifference lurks for the greater part of your life in some dark den of its own, hidden away, and emerges every morning to taunt and deride and increase the torment of a miserable job.

You have tried to change jobs but like flying out of the frying pan into the fire, you jump from one cage of misery to the other. It then hits you like a ton of bricks that you can never flee the misery that is within you.

It’s time to admit it, 8-4-4 ruined you. Education ruined you. Your individuality was crushed. Your passions violently extinguished. You were brainwashed to chase the money but they forgot to tell you that money always follows a passion. Your talents were mocked and ridiculed. Because of that, you never ventured out to find your true potential.

You coil with fear at the thought of taking any risk. You are more familiar with the safe seas. You have never dared to do anything worth recording in history.

Maybe I’m speaking for myself.

I hate school but I love knowledge. I hate school systems that are designed to produce employees who are good at taking instructions but not giving any. Our education system thwarts innovation and frustrates the acquisition of knowledge. I hate classrooms because there is no specialized attention to our uniqueness. It’s too standardized no wonder we churn out half-baked graduates every year. I don’t like assignments because they are predictable, mundane and a brewery of boredom.

I don’t like assignments because they are predictable, mundane and a brewery of boredom.

I love knowledge. I read all the time. In a car, in class, at work, and any free time I get.

School ruined me. Every morning, an injection of fear was driven in my heart. My heart became cold like an ice box. I couldn’t wait for school to end except for art classes. Yet the sciences were given prominence.

Right now, I’m working hard to unlearn everything that 8-4-4 taught me. Most teachers were mean and bitter. They harbored pent up frustrations which they unleashed on us. Most of them were never affirmed therefore they didn’t know how to do it. Some of them were not good mothers at home so it showed in school. Some of them were bitter and brutal absentee fathers who unleashed their inadequacies on us.

Maybe it’s the school I went to. So I shouldn’t generalize the issues.

Most of my teachers were mean and bitter. They harbored pent up frustrations which they freely unleashed on us. Their inadequacies were frequently unleashed on us.

I believe that I’m a fast learner. I don’t need 3 hours to grasp something. I memorize the key things. I write fast. I read even faster. The worst habit I learned from 8-4-4 was to cram, pour it all out on the exam paper, then forget it all. That’s why anything I learn must make sense to my life. It must be relevant and impact full. Not some assorted guesswork from Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) guys.

I’m not skilled in Mathematics and all its relatives. I suck badly at them. Physics was my enemy. Chemistry and I had a respectable boundary we built around each other. As critical as Mathematics was, a struggling Kenya science trainee teacher was brought in to teach us at form 3.

Those double lessons in the afternoon after a mug of uji and githeri were simply torturous. I constantly had a migraine.

Yet this incompetent trainee teacher ran the class like we were some robots. Whether you passed or not, he didn’t care. His obsession was to complete the syllabus. Who cares when you finish a syllabus and a majority of the class has failed?

The school principal was a man full of bile. He was naturally bitter and spiteful.

Our sports teacher was a loud man. He could shout so loud that the blood cells from your serum would jump in an attempt to try and escape. He was a slender tall man who specialized in showing veins in his neck by how frequently he shouted. Players were not allowed to make mistakes. He would humiliate you in front of everyone.

Then the CRE teacher who was in charge of counseling was never approachable. Her face had misery written all over it. She put up a huge Guantanamo bay fence around herself with her foul attitude. Yet many of us were hurting. We came from broken homes. School to us was like an escape yet this is the very same place where we were haunted. She claimed to be a believer, but the Jesus I know was never evident in her actions. She would abuse us.

The deputy was a wasp. He was a cold and withdrawn man. His presence alone inspired fear. Yet he was an excellent maths and physics teacher. If he only dropped his guard and embraced the many students like his sons, I believe that would have changed many things.

What school taught me

School taught me to fear. Never to take risks yet that’s what separates successful men from unsuccessful ones. I was told never to take risks, live a life that was predictable and be content.

School taught me that I didn’t have a voice. That my opinions never mattered yet in life, your opinions make you.

School taught me that I needed the education to succeed, not knowledge. So I focused in passing exams but I soon realized that gaining knowledge shouldn’t be confined to school material alone.

School taught me that being abused is normal. Articulating your problems isn’t acceptable. You must suffer in silence to be a good student.

The teachers who taught me never inspired greatness in me. Except a few who were sympathetic enough to hold our hands. On the contrary, a majority of them had such terrible condescending attitude towards many of us. Many rebelled or were transformed into cowards.

You wonder why we aren’t innovative. It’s because, in school, innovation is a preserve of people who were born in some other races.

Yet there are a few heroes within the hot mess who transformed our lives. They are mentioning.

Mr. Micah Dola who would invite me to his office during break time and give me tea and bread. He would hide it and sneak me in so that other students didn’t notice that he was feeding me. He was my class 6 teacher of Geography, yet I’ve never forgotten about his acts of kindness towards me.

Mrs. Judy Ayal was a mother far away from home. She was my literature teacher in high school. She made me fall love with literature. I loved Aminata (high school set book) because of her. She was gentle, kind, motherly and generally sweet. She wasn’t aggressive and she listened to us. Maybe it’s because of her that I became a writer. She nurtured what was within me.

Not all teachers are bad. There are many exemplary ones that are heroic every day. But because teachers wield so much power over their students, much is expected from them. Their words should be seasoned with the healing salt. Their leadership should bring out the heroes in us. Teachers should nurture greatness and bring out the best

Their words should be seasoned with the healing salt. Their leadership should bring out the heroes in us. Teachers should nurture greatness and bring out the best

However, as I grow older, I’ve come to realize that we can never blame our teachers. We can’t certainly blame circumstances that surrounded our lives when we were growing up. Our destiny is in our hands. As long as we have got breath in our lungs, we can change our destiny. We are the captains of our ship. If we are courageous enough to pursue our dreams, we would live in a world full of energy and life.

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Author: Dannish Odongo

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    1 Response

  1. Maureen says:

    You’re speaking my language, it’s like you go the words right out of my mouth, I’ve been thinking the same thing for weeks, dude you are describing my life right now, it really does suck but I’m thinking of how to change things.

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