We live in an age of parliamentary democracy. This means every law must be decided in parliament after a thorough or exhaustive discussion. As decisions are taken by a majority of votes it is also necessary to persuade as many members of parliament as possible to vote on a side. Although such persuasion is always not fruitful because most members come to the house with minds made up for them by their various political parties or godfathers, attempts have to be made.
Hence our future politicians (students) must learn how to explain a point of view convincingly and with detailed reasons and how to win over members by an appeal to their personal feelings or to their sense of passion. This is an act which can be learnt in debating societies in schools and colleges. Debating is acquired by practice and the object of debating societies is to provide the student with necessary practice.
In my days in secondary school, there were debating clubs or societies at virtually all the schools. Debating competitions among secondary schools both at the state and national levels were organized and encouraged. Indeed such debates helped students to acquire mastery over the English language and the literary arts. Many science students acquired literary skills as a result of their participation in debate activities. In fact, debating in those days was a feature of college life.
On a due date of a debate competition, classes were suspended before the debate commenced, and the students filed into the school hall and took their seats. It was apparent that a great deal of lobbying had taken place. The pro-mergers and anti-mergers occupied opposite sections of the hall grouped in compact bodies. The neutrals -who were usually few – took their seats as they were attracted by either convenience or friendship. Curiously enough the conservative-minded were mostly pro-mergers; the progressives were almost all against the scheme. That was how it looked in my days.
But today, that has changed. It is hardly possible for debates to be organized at our schools. Even in private schools where the academic standard is considerably higher, debate activities are elusive while debating societies are practically non-existent. The reason is that the routine of most private schools is lecture-packed. There is no room for extracurricular activities.
Government-owned schools are worse. Learning hardly takes place there. The teachers seldom show interest or commitment to the basic activities of the schools. This is usually attributed to the fallen standard of education and, in such situation, there is bound to be little enthusiasm for holding debates. Where such enthusiasm exists, the unwillingness of teachers to join in the debates kills the inspiration.
Since Nigeria operates a constitution which establishes a National Assembly as well as the state legislature, where arguments precede the passage of bills, it has become necessary for debates to be held at schools to prepare students for the task, especially those of them that may end up in politics.
If debate culture can be introduced and strengthened in our primary and secondary schools, it may enhance the quality of arguments and the kind of English language spoken on the floor of our legislative houses in the country.
In view of this, the Rivers State Ministry of Education has to make it mandatory for all primary and secondary schools in the state to establish literary and debating societies. Two or three periods should be set aside every week for these debates and it should be considered a part of the timetable.
A debate is as much a part of education as learning mathematics or physics. Besides, these debates help put our book learning to test; what is learnt in class can be used in supportive or opposing arguments. For instance, a student of physics will have much to say if the subject of a debate is on the usefulness of hydro-electric power. This will be a healthy adjunct to academic work.
It is a good idea to have debates on real problems, preferably on real or contemporary issues. Everyone is interested in such issues and would want to have additional knowledge about them. Such issues may include the fallen standard of education, cultism, militancy, resource control, Boko Haram, abortion, the state of the economy and insecurity etc. To the average Nigerian, all these are of profound interest, and a debate on any of them will assist in clarifying or correcting our notion. It will enliven thought, stimulate interest and develop understanding.
The reintroduction of debating societies and debate competitions in schools will be a hopeful sign of improvement in our education sector. Given the fallen standard of education in our country, universities should also encourage debating competitions. There should be inter-university debating tournaments where selected debaters from universities will pit their talents against one another.
Every effort should be made to encourage students to get some practice in debates and discussions. Academic life will be better for it. And students will learn to be better citizens.
By: Arnold Alalibo.
Why Alpha Students Serve Average Students
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid – Albert Einstein
Many have the belief that the rich are crooks, but there are far more people who are honest, hard working and are not crooks.
A child’s most important teachers are his parents who provide the foundational building blocks of education. Parents celebrate a child’s first words, also teach them to count, walk and read and ride bicycle. Parents always prepare their children for the worst. Parents interact with their children every day and consciously or unconsciously, they have a huge and powerful impact in shaping their lives. Every child is a genius but unfortunately, their ingenuity may not be recognised by the education system. Most parents know that a child’s true genius is found in his dreams. We see a glimpse of it in early age.
The business of education is seen as a big industry in the world, impacting the lives of people. The step in making changes in our lives starts with a change, a shift in context, change in our perspectives and the filters we use to process information.
Good grades and academic success can be a double-edged sword. Being lauded as an A-student on the track to corporate success may only open a few doors and help what colleges and universities anoint as the best and brightest graduates. There is more to a rich and wonderful life than the white-collar job you leave school well qualified to do. The real world is not about your grades because there are existing games where different rules apply.
The future belongs to those who can strongly embrace change, see the future and anticipate what it needs and respond to different opportunities, challenges and passions. I believe that a child’s genius is his dreams. Creating a conducive environment in which your child can discuss his or her dreams is an important exercise. Be patient to listen to all he has to say. Bring down yourself to be friends with him as to make him trust you enough to open up to you. How well you understand him will enable you guide him more appropriately.
Rich people also go broke because, all over the world, there are millions of retirees many of whom were once rich but now live in fear of outliving their retirement savings. It is insane to say to your child “Go to school and get a job” when jobs are being shipped overseas or replaced by advancements in technology. It is insane to say your house is an asset when it is really a liability. It is insane to invest for long term in the stock market when professional investment firms are using multi-million naira computers to invest in the short term.
Education focuses on content which includes reading, writing and arithmetic. But rather be based on context. The reason why many persons are poor and remain poor is because they have poor context which includes thoughts, beliefs, values, choices, etc. It is also the reason why many lottery winners are soon broke. People with a middle-class context don’t get rich because, instead of investing, they just consume more. They buy expensive houses, take nice vacations, drive expensive cars and spend money on higher education.
Greatness is often a reflection of a person with high emotional intelligence. Emotional is equated with success intelligence because successful people are successful at managing their emotions, especially in stressful situations. Many people grow up physically but fail to grow up emotionally. Most adults are still little kids on the inside. They go to school, get a job and the little kid inside them shows up. Years pass and a day comes when they wonder what happened to their lives. They’ve worked for years with nothing to show for it; lack of emotional development that often hinders adults in the real world. They spend their lives doing what they want to do rather than doing what they need to do. Nothing they do would seem to work. Things that would ordinarily work for every other person hardly works for them. Even if such person takes first in a job interview, he is never taken; rather the next person or even the least performer gets picked.
Generosity is the key to success; most successful entrepreneurs are generous because they plan to create job opportunities for people. The real issue between the rich, the middle class and the poor is focus. The poor and middle class focus on their incomes, how much they earn.
Education is not about equality, it is also not about being fair. The reason parents attach importance to their children’s education is because they know that it has the power to give their child advantages in life. Financial education should be seen as an important part of that and teaching your child that money gives unfair advantage. Explain the different types of income and why understanding the differences among them is important.
In creating an active learning environment in your home, you are giving your child a huge and unfair advantage. With a strong financial education, your child will have the freedom to pursue his dreams.
Harry is with the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
Women And Overweight Syndrome
Studies have enlightened us that from age 40, women have greater tendency to become overweight at the slightest provocation. The explanation given was that, at this age, the digestive system slows down and the body is no less likely to engage in any physical activity that would encourage speedy burning of fat.
For this reason, medical experts and nutritionists who understand the health implication of getting unusually fat have had to caution against lifestyle that may facilitate it. Coincidentally, over time, most women and ladies had thought that one way to gain the public’s approval of their appearance is by looking robust and weighty.
As a result, many of them had undertaken some feeding regime that could facilitate an eventual robust posture. This dieting programme which, of course, emphasises foods high in carbohydrate and starch, junk foods, soft drinks and candy coupled with a life style devoid of physical exercise, constitute a hasty invitation to overweight.
Alternatively, fatty looks are also invited through self administration of appetite boosters which leaves its users hungry and drowsy. When people eat more calories than they use, their bodies store the extra calories as fat. A couple of pounds of extra body fat are not a health risk for most people. But when people keep up a pattern of eating more calories than they burn, more and more fat builds up in their bodies.
Eventually, the body gets to a point where the amount of body fat can harm a person’s health. Doctors use the terms “overweight” or “obese” to tell if someone has a greater chance of developing weight-related health problems.
Howbeit, research has shown that this attitude does not only have the danger of hampering the agility of the brain, but may increase the risk for many health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. Others include certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, pregnancy problems such as high blood sugar during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery (C-section)
Although, no sane woman would want to be overweight, popular opinion has it that women are propelled by the desire to boost their physique a little but because they are not properly guarded, they over do it and the unexpected becomes the case. It is for this reason that the need to have our mentality and attitude towards our natural look overhauled has become imminent.
People need to be told that there is a reason for the way they are made and so attempts to have natural physique altered by way of boosting it out of proportion must be discouraged in its entirety as they have caused more harm than good. Many who dared it have not only turned overweight, they have incurred some health problems upon themselves all in a bid to look good and attractive.
Like a writer once wrote, “apart from the obvious physical discomfort and ailment that come with overweight, there can also be a deep-seated psychological trauma which is usually characterised by a pervading sense of low self-esteem, insecurity or inferiority complex, that many overweight people have to contend with”.
Being too fat, therefore, especially in very mature people increases the vulnerability of the person to several diseases which could have been prevented by not to have introduced any biological or chemical catalyst to interfere with the natural state of the body.
Diseases such as heart-related cases, high blood pressure, frequent muscular pains and spasm, diabetes, bone ache etc are cases associated with overweight. Nevertheless, some cases of overweight had been linked to genetical inheritance while some have their own ordeal due to the agitation of some hormones as a result of child birth.
All the same, the arousal of the consciousness of the danger of too much fat in the body is only what is paramount this time. Whether it is a natural course or a self-propelled factor, looking out for its signs and administering its antidotes in good time will go a long way in tackling this monster called overweight.
People between the ages of 50 and 60 should adopt and maintain healthy habits, stay off oily foods, alcohol, sugary foods and fried foods. They should grill, boil or steam their food instead of frying. Prevention, they say, is better than cure. It is advisable to maintain a good eating habit and exercise regularly.
The fact that once the mistake is established, it becomes difficult to reverse, makes it necessary to view this craze-to-be-fat syndrome, as an anomaly that needs be corrected and possibly be nipped in the bud through the use of an enlightenment campaign or any other form of public education that could be very effective at reaching especially the grassroots women.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
Our Leaders And Darwin’s Doctrine
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-82), English biologist, author of The Origin Of Species and an apostle of the theory of organic evolution by natural selection, was also a Thought Management Therapist. Not many people placed much value on his Doctrine on mental hygiene as everybody did on his theory of evolution. Hear him: “The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we ought to control our thoughts”.
Mental hygiene or the management of thinking process is one area where Nigerians require some orientation and education. It may not be known to everybody that we can build or destroy ourselves by our thinking and mindset. Truly, the key to every man is his thought. Some Nigerians have this habit of talking carelessly which often depicts the mindset of the average Nigerian.
Some people toy with the illusion that thought is free and that they can get away with the consequences arising from what they think and say. There is, indeed, a world of thought forms whose energy and pressures represent various categories of the thoughts, emotions, utterances and mindset of human beings. They coalesce and form into magnetic centres of energy according to the nature of their contents.
Thus, several centres of thought energy, however around human environment, capable of making contacts with people whose thinking and striving are similar to the nature and contents of the various centres of thought forms. We pollute and degrade our psychic environment through the generation of sordid and nasty thoughts and emotions which contribute towards the worsening behaviours and activities of many people.
Darwin’s Doctrine is an explanation of the links and interactive process between visible human environment and a non-visible one that harbours all thoughts which humans generate daily. The Doctrine emphasizes the fact that human beings possess a far-reaching ability in the power of thought, because human volition creates energies that have independent existence. Such artificially created energy or thought centres influence, affect and infect humans in various ways.
This invisible world of thought-forms continues to grow and expand, with every human being contributing his or her own bit to sustain the various kinds. Humans are surrounded and affected by various electro-magnetic radiations and energies, including the artificially created thought centres. There are few positive ones which people have opportunity of mobilizing and using, to carry out works of grace.
However, human environment has been so polluted and degraded that unpleasant energy centres predominate. There are choking and deadly psychic pollutants whose influences are responsible for increasing acts of irresponsibility.
Therefore, while we are talking about clean physical environment and making legislations for the preservation of a healthy ecology, let us give some thought and attention to Darwin’s Doctrine on this matter. It is a doctrine of a sound mental hygiene and the cultivation of a positive attitude or frame of mind. Is it not obvious that what manifests physically is usually the result or by-product of a psychological process? Thoughts may be private, personal and non-visible, but their effects soon become public and visible in the behaviours of the masses.
The consequences of what we think and plan privately manifest sooner or later in the forms of what we say, do or experience. Degrading pollutants in our environment consist of thoughts of bitterness, greed, lust, envy, tension and other nasty emotions. Hardly can any law be made to regulate the thinking of individuals but everyone has a responsibility to control his thoughts, which would reflect in deeds and utterances.
Through the nature of the thoughts and ideas that we cultivate and harbor, we also attract similar thoughts and ideas, thereby building or destroying ourselves. We do much harm to ourselves and others when we engage in thoughts and ideas of evil nature. When a particular kind of mindset or aspiration predominates in a country this can determine the collective orientation of the people. The consequences come as shared experiences.
It was considered needful to bring up Darwin’s Doctrine which can also be called “Thought Management Therapy”, because of some recent utterances of Nigerian politicians. Being role models in the society, the political class should recognise the wide social impact of what they say and do, even in privacy. Nigerian masses are quite poor and hungry, living in squalid hovels.
For a former state governor and now a Chief Whip of the Senate, used to living in affluence, to lament about “Senators’ pay packet” is quite insensitive to the plight of the masses. How would a Nigerian civil servant begging for N30,000 monthly wage feel to hear that “when I was governor, the state was buying my food; the state paid everything, but as a senator, nobody does that”? With N13.5 million as running cost each month and N200 million as constituency allowance for each senator, why must a monthly pay of N750,000 be an issue of lamentation?
Nigerian politicians are advised to acquaint themselves with Charles Darwin’s Doctrine and what lesson it contains. Nigeria cannot be different from what its leaders, senators and the elite harbour as regular thoughts and aspirations.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt..
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