Category Archives: education

Literature At School and Its Influence on my Reading

Reading through my last post where Damilola spoke about books and reading, I realised that she liked some of the literature texts we read at secondary school. Damilola mentioned that she liked Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Both are books we read at school. I remember struggling to get through these books for my IGCSE literature exam.

ThingsFallApart_mini.JPG

I preferred the poetry section in literature at school. One of the poems I studied that stuck with me was The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

I don’t know if it was the thought that I had to read a book to pass an exam that made me not like literature. I wonder at other times if it was the selection of books that didn’t appeal to me. Primary school and junior secondary school literature was fine. I enjoyed reading Without A Silver Spoon by Eddie Iroh which was about a young boy from a poor background in Nigeria. Oliver Twist was also good.

I think a few of the books I read at school between ages of 8 and 13 had a common theme on how a family’s income can influence a child’s life chances, from Oliver Twist to Without A Silver Spoon.  I read Mother’s Choice by Agbo Areo when I was 11. This had a similar theme. It was about a young boy from a rich background in Nigeria and his parents send him to boarding school in England at a young age. He becomes wayward when he starts school in England.

The books at senior secondary school were the ones I struggled to read. It was at this stage that my class read Things Fall Apart and Romeo and Juliet. I feel because I was in a large literature class, it was hard for me to learn during classes. We usually had about 30 people in an average class. However, for literature, we were over 40 students in a class that was meant for 30 people.

If I were to suggest an improvement to my secondary school literature class, it would be that the teacher breaks the class into small groups. People can then discuss each book as though they were in a book club. That would have aided my understanding on each book. We could have had these book discussions in small groups during the many prep times we had. I went to boarding school and we had a lot of prep (periods in the afternoon and evenings meant for personal study).

I got through school and did well in literature but I think I should have taken more time to read the books. When it came to choosing subjects for my A Levels, I thought of doing Literature but I ended up choosing Sociology in place of English Lit. I also did French and Economics.

Although, I didn’t carry on studying literature at A Levels, I still enjoyed reading. I volunteered last year as a tutor in a secondary school in London and I assisted with their English lessons. The Year 7s read The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas and I read that with them. It’s about a boy who lives near a concentration camp in the Holocaust but he didn’t know what was going on in the camp. It was an interesting read and I also watched part of the movie adaptation.

Given that I didn’t really understand some of the literature texts I read at school, I’ve decided to re-read Things Fall Apart and I picked up a copy from my local library.  I think I might prefer reading it as an adult. Damilola recommended it and I’ll let you know my thoughts when I’ve read it.

Let me know if you studied literature at school and what books you enjoyed.

Story Time: My Experience at Boarding School in Nigeria

In 2004,  I resumed secondary school at Louisville in Nigeria. I was excited and told my older brother that I won’t be joining him at his school as I was going to Louisville. Little did I know what awaited me at secondary school. 
I had read two of Enid Blyton’s boarding school series, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers when I was in primary school but I knew Louisville wasn’t going to be like that. There was no way Louisville which is situated in the South-west region of Nigeria would be similar to the schools in England that Enid Blyton wrote about.

This picture was taken in 2010 near the end of my final year at school. I’m the third person from the left. 

Did boarding school meet my expectations? I had no expectations but boarding school taught me many things and instilled values in me that I live by today. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate the value of going to Louisville though I knew I was privileged to go to a good private school. There were moments when I cried because I couldn’t understand why I was under the hot sun cutting grass as punishment for not laying my bed properly. I left Louisville  knowing that outdoor labour like cutting grass isn’t for me. There were punishment times, happy times with my schoolmates and academic sessions to get the qualifications that I needed.


Watch the video below to hear me talk about my experience.

It was hard to capture six years of being at boarding school in a video of less than six minutes but I was able to share my memories of it and the lessons from Louisville. 
Let me know your fondest memories from school and whether you went to boarding or day school. 

I learnt how to skip on YouTube! The Benefit of Online How-to Tutorials

I used to skip on one leg and wondered why I didn’t know how to skip with both legs. Then, I thought where I could learn to skip? YouTube! I doubted if there would be an online tutorial on skipping  since it’s just learning how to jump over a rope but found that YouTube had a couple of tutorials. I selected one and watched it.

My skipping rope

                             

The video motivated me, gave me tips on how to skip and explained why skipping is good for my health. I grabbed my trainers and skipping rope and went outside to skip. I tried using the tips for the tutorial and struggled at first but I kept trying. One thing YouTube tutorials have taught me is the importance of practice. I know how to skip with both legs now but I keep practising in order to get better. I used to think I would watch a tutorial once and know how to do the exact thing a YouTuber does in one attempt.

If you don’t get it the first time, try again. It’s not just YouTube tutorials but even recipes I’ve tried online. Things may go wrong the first time but you never know it may get better the second time. When things go south, you can still enjoy the results that you created. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  

This tweet reflects what happens when you’re expecting a perfect style after watching a hair tutorial and the results are disappointing. However, we keep going regardless of the results

What is your favourite online tutorial and what’s it about?

Photo credit: Naturallytemi (Instagram)

How Saving Became A Priority For Me

I didn’t start saving till I was twenty and I started by putting coins into a tin. Then, I moved on to saving in a bank account. Saving seemed like a way for me to prepare financially for large expenses- like going on a holiday or as a backup for tight times. My mindset on saving changed while listening to a podcast where Arese Ugwu, a personal finance expert spoke about how saving can help with generating income. This helped me understand that saving isn’t just a way for me to store money for experiences or purchases that depreciate or end the minute the experience is over. For example,  the money I spend on a holiday ends once I return from the holiday. Meanwhile, I can invest in property or other assets that can generate income.

This doesn’t mean I won’t spend part of my savings on a holiday or on other things. It’s just that now I plan to allocate my savings in a way that adds value to me financially and I can still have treats from time to time. Saving requires that I control how I spend. I created a budget for the first time over Christmas and failed at following it but I hope to try again. Having a mental budget is what I run with now but I want it to be more concrete. In the mean time, I’ll remember that “there’s rice at home” so as to control my spending on takeaway or eating out. 

Lessons from a Fire Accident

I was in a taxi one morning and the taxi driver was telling me about a fire incident that happened close to where he was dropping me. The next thing I was overwhelmed with tears and started crying. The taxi driver must have been wondering what was wrong with me. The day before, I had returned from uni to find that my student accommodation had been destroyed in a fire in Nottingham. 

Part of the building that burnt in the fire

This was me taking pictures in the corridor of student accommodation a day before it was destroyed in the fire. Little did I know that the morning I left the building would be my last day inside.
Till today, I do not know what caused the fire. A lady who works with the fire services told me the major causes of fires in student accommodation buildings were cooking and candles. Leaving candles and cooking unattended is a fire hazard. Please make sure you supervise your cooking and do not leave candles around things that can easily catch fire. In homes where there are smokers, one can use ash trays with a little water to put out the fire in the cigarette. 
I know some of us think that we can never experience a fire accident. Prior to the incident, I only read about fires in newspapers and I thought this was something that happened in faraway places but this experience made me so aware of taking precautions to prevent a fire accident. Educate your loved ones about how to prevent fires. I may not have caused the fire in my student accommodation but I lost all my things in the fire apart from what I was wearing and holding on that day. It is expensive losing your things in a fire, I can tell you that. However it is more costly losing a life in a fire because you cannot buy a life in Tesco. 
*If you live in England and a fire accident occurs, call 999

MTV Shuga- A Mix of Education and Entertainment

What African show addresses issues of HIV/AIDS, sexual assault and sexual health in general? Where do we find African film characters that speak for children born with HIV? MTV Shuga is a show where we can find these issues addressed in a fun and entertaining manner.

I have been watching Shuga for a while now and its message appeals to me. One of the characters, Sophie was a runs girl (a young lady who dates an older man for money)  who faced an HIV scare after engaging in unprotected with an older man who has HIV. Watching her made the viewers more aware of the risks of unprotected sex. There is a Nigerian saying that AIDS no dey show for face, meaning one cannot tell if a person is HIV-positive by looking at a person’s face. This was evident in Shuga where people were engaging in risky sexual behaviour without knowing each others’ HIV status.

There is an underlying message on sexual violence in relationships including marriage. It raised questions on whether a woman is at fault if she visits a man on her own accord and is raped. Shuga has shown that when a woman experiences sexual violence, there are places where she can receive help such as 6222 helpline. Before I watched Shuga, I felt that there were no places where a woman could turn to if she encountered sexual violence but now I am more aware of the support systems available to women and men in these circumstances.

Shuga is a show that I would highly recommend as I believe it has improved my understanding of the topics it addresses. I love the fact the show was set in Kenya and Nigeria showing that HIV and sexual assault is not just a Nigerian issue but an issue that is paramount in other African countries such as Kenya.

Photo credits: www.mtvshuga.com 

WHO WANTS TO GO TO SCHOOL?

Maths is so boring and hard. I cannot be bothered to learn how to sew in my Home Economics or Technology lesson. Why do we have to learn French in school? I said some of these statements when I was in school. As I have grown older, I have come to see the importance of learning these subjects. A case in point would be languages. The British Council noted that learning foreign languages provides benefits to the economy, trade and improves employability as some multinational companies value job candidates with language skills. Likewise, we learn skills and knowledge from these subjects that are useful in our daily lives. I get to use my maths skills when I’m calculating what percentage of my income I save each month. 
At the moment, I am able to share my love for learning as a volunteer with City Year UK, a charity that supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds. I explain academic concepts to them and I believe that this would prepare them for academic assessments and life, in general. My knowledge of fractions has been tested as I offered one to one support to students to help them understand how to add fractions. Now, I am glad I listened during my secondary school Maths classes. I do not know everything and attending classes has improved my knowledge. From attending design and technology classes, I learnt the basics in manufacturing and fashion design. In science, I assisted in a class where students learnt about the organs of the body. I believe that these lessons provide a solid foundation to potentially considering a career in a field related to these subjects.
Going back to school to serve with City Year UK has made me reflect on the importance of school. The impact education has makes me think of the young people who are denied access to quality education in developing countries. Lacking this education narrows their ability to work in certain professions which could influence their potential earnings. I graduated from university in July and I hope that more people would be given the opportunity to go to university as well.

School made a difference in my life by equipping me with lifelong skills and knowledge that has helped me make better decisions. Attending school for me was not just about the academic achievement, even though that was important. It was a time where I learnt to be independent and to relate with people from different backgrounds. I serve with City Year UK to create positive experiences for students and to motivate students who have lost interest in school because I see the long-term impact of improving their engagement in school.

*This article was published on the City Year team Idealism blog.