My generation has lately been under assault from all kinds of konkontibaa, the type with 'deceitful tongues.' Together with their sharp teethed gangsters that create, loot and share the national assets all to themselves excluding the rest of us. They are the scourge of motherland development. A couple of days after I had read one of them criticizing my colleague lecturers for knowing little and imparting not much, another took on his university, stopping just short of labelling it useless. The one we thought we had helped become an achieving newsperson lambasted us who taught him; virtually branding us as no good.
One wonders if those are not signs that, indeed, the university is not provoking enough stimulation of thinking and thought. However, I also believe there is none that knows everything; although I will buy into an argument that some know more than others. Sometimes too, others may think the one who knows does not know and vice versa. One thing I remember from a book,' John Ploughman's Talk,' is what goes something like, he, and these days she too, who knows not and knows not he knows not is a fool. On the other hand, he who knows not and knows he knows not is wise.
At teachers' college, the wise Principal pasted something on the notice board and asked every student to memorise it. As a foolish student, I chose not to obey his wise counsel, which I took to be an oppressive command; forgetting he knew a lot, while I knew very little. It was a poem by Alexander Pope with no other title than: 'A little learning is a dangerous thing.' I have tried quoting it so many times. But I always have to google or make some other search for the complete poem. Had I not been foolish by thinking I was wise by not following a simple knowledge building experience, I won't be laboring over that 'little' thing, made big by my little thinking.
I've read and heard actualities on radio which may not have conveyed a full picture. A video may not even be sufficient evidence with the level of communication technology today. Still, views and comments of the nature come from individuals full of themselves who posture as knowing so much but in reality less than they know. As one of the old academic stock, I have chucked myself out, anyway, before some ignoramus would pray for it. But I was shocked my granddaughter has been assigned Psychology, Health Service and Chinese for her first degree. Certainly, the old brains some swear should be discarded know and understand what is meant by future. Not many futuristic subjects will beat that.
Sometime ago, a former student, almost in like manner, lambasted university teachers for not deserving of book and research allowance. In his mind, we were using old notes. Personally, I had a number of uncompleted manuscripts I had used my book (tax relief), research and conference allowances from an external university to develop. That is to say, book and research allowance is not an isolated Ghanaian practice. This student never read my published works, probably because he thought they were, and still are not worthy of attention. I suspect it was probably in plain ignorance; because I had not asked him to go and read. As a matter of principle, because what I have published is what I am most likely to present at lectures and seminars, I don't put them on the reading list.
Sometimes, with the contents of the media (radio, television, WhatsApp, text messaging) will directly query and hold my colleagues and I responsible for content they think is wrong and inappropriate, or sometimes even what they don't like. My response has been that, these are people who enter the university with bloated egos partly foisted by a public which had been praising them for many wrong things. They enter into the tutelage with their minds closed, uncompromising in opening up to other views and approaches to life and living, especially sound practices at the workplace. In other words, they come for certificated legitimacy for the wrong things they were doing before and do worse with the certificate.
If after three degrees this is the thought the university has been able to facilitate in a product, then, the university could have a problem. I say could, because to the best of my knowledge, the university doesn't give. It props and directs towards choices. If you come in as garbage, working hard towards failing no matter what (and believe me there are students, a tiny proportion, though, like that), the university cannot unfairly take the blame for the person leaving it in the garbage condition he must have entered. Maybe, it is partly why the word incorrigible exists.
By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
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