Stop Writing Names Of Noisemakers

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I got beaten quite a lot in primary school. It was not for punching a girl, or for stealing a class mate’s lunch, or for sleeping during lectures (although I was guilty of that a lot). I got beat simply because I talked, because I expressed myself, and because the person writing names of noise makers was not my friend.

It’s ironic that we spend so much time telling our children to keep quiet, if we knew any better we would tell them to speak up more often, to let their voices be heard. But we stifle their words and their imagination; we see quiet students as the intelligent ones. But you know who changes the world when they grow up? The noise makers – the ones we tell to keep quiet, the ones we beat till their hands go numb – they are the ones who change the world. But we beat their voices out of them in school and then years down the line we ask why our youths are not speaking up!

And where did we get this notion that education was created to be about quiet learning?  Because, it does not fit us…because Nigerians are loud – we speak loudly, and argue loudly, and express ourselves loudly. That’s how we communicate; that’s how we evolved. But instead of embracing our natural cultural history, we instead jump into the British way of doing things. And it should not be that way. The Nigerian educational system, if not all educational systems, should not be about how silent you can be, but rather how loud and expressive you can be. I mean you don’t learn by staring at your books and teachers in silence; you learn by engaging with teachers and students. That is the way the real world is. Now I am not saying that learning in silence is always bad … I’m saying that noise making should be encouraged in school, and not shut down or punished. Apart from stifling learning and the development of intelligence, it kills any form of engagement – so the average Nigerian grows up as an individual seeking to be the best he can be, instead of being part of a collaborative group of people seeking to be the best they can be and offering the best to their community or country!

I mean we spend 12 years telling primary and secondary school students to keep quiet, and then we thrust them into the world and tell them to make a change and speak up against social injustice!  And then we are shocked that they can’t!?!

We have to break the myth that a well-behaved child with good grades is the ideal leader! I mean look at people like Gani Fawehnmi, Fela Kuti or Pat Utomi – one would be hard pressed to believe that they were amongst the quiet ones in class … in fact chances are they were top noisemakers in school! But look at what they have done for Nigeria by simply speaking up and making noise … let’s stop writing down the names of noise makers!

Illustration courtesy of ofilispeaks.com and picture courtesy of igbobasics.com

This entry is an excerpt from the upcoming book How Intelligence Kills: A Critical Look At Our Dangerous Addiction To Religion, Intelligence and Respect.

twitterOfili is an author who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on BB pin: 24de3c8ftwitterFacebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on instagram for more sketches! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book is titled How Intelligence Kills Us and will be coming out in the second quarter of 2013 as soon as possible.

To read his other books for free on your android phone go to http://bit.ly/freelaziness

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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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22 comments on “Stop Writing Names Of Noisemakers

  1. Nice one Ofili, you have done sorry, written it again. This is sure an eye opener and we all should voice it as it is

  2. Olabode Odubunmi on said:

    Nice one. My views: Communication occurs when somebody is talking and others are listening. It becomes a noise when everybody wants to talk at the same time – which is what we don’t want to allow in the classroom. I hope you know that students can not all be the same; we have naturally quite students too. If you give room to the ‘noisy’ ones alone, the quiet ones might be intimidated and may not want to speak out. We have students that express themselves better through writing (I happen to fall into this category) rather than talking. I think the real matter is about balancing – Do not stifle the outspoken, encourage the conservatives while maintaining a serene environment for learning. Thank you.

  3. Olabode Odubunmi on said:

    Nice one Mr Ofili.
    My views:
    Communication occurs when somebody is talking and others are listening. It becomes a noise when everybody wants to talk at the same time – which is what we don’t want to allow in the classroom. I hope you know that students can not all be the same; we have naturally quite students too. If you give room to the ‘noisy’ ones alone, the quiet ones might be intimidated and may not want to speak out. We have students that express themselves better through writing (I happen to fall into this category) rather than talking. I think the real matter is about balancing – Do not stifle the outspoken, encourage the conservatives while maintaining a serene environment for learning.

    Thank you.

  4. Innocent Oaikhena on said:

    It is good idea to encourage speaking up but a better idea to encourage directed and purposeful speaking up. My idea about noise is several people talking at the same time and talking out of purpose.

    If students in the class are engaged in a disagreement and are pushing ideas, I do not consider this noise. I just see individuals full of ideas and being expressive of their ideas.

    So, my pick is, allow them make noise as Okechukwu puts it but doctor their noise – I mean the ideas, expressiveness adn voice to group purposes and goals.

    Cheers!

  5. Pingback: Okechukwu Ofili: Stop writing names of noisemakers | YNaija

  6. EreOluwa on said:

    Good write up Ofili! I agreed with you totally and oftentimes the ‘noise makers’, inspire the ‘quiet and conservative ones’, in creative writing and illustrations if you get what I mean. Keep doing this ‘loud noise making’, for the ‘quiet ones.’ God bless you.

  7. ibukun on said:

    Good piece as usual but premditation took out the fun, Noise can inspire a change but comtemplation will sustain it. noise is 100m sprint while marathon is truly enduring.

  8. Another great post Ofili! Noise making is not only limited to schools. In fact, I believe it’s mostly at home. How many times have parents silenced their kids when these kids try to express themselves? Sometimes we kill our children’s ability to freely express themselves or try out new things when we don’t allow them jump on the couch, tear up the house, and do other things expected of their age group.

    Having said that, it’s also important that the “noise making” is within control limits. Set boundaries that allows the child to have fun without stressing the parent.
    Segun latest post is Inspirational Video: Get Back Up, Nick VujicicMy Profile

  9. Hehe. It’s worse when the pupil writing the names isn’t your friend. You go hear am! Beautiful piece. You made a very important point. Communication is overly underrated in schools at that stage. ‘Speaking up’ and ‘self expression’ should actually be encouraged in Nigerian schools. Thanks for putting this up, Ofili. I couldn’t agree less.

  10. Hmm. If they had allowed me to make noise ehn, I would have been giving them breaking news 24/7….My teachers knew I knew something about everyone and so introduced taking down names of noise makers to check me.

  11. Diki Diri on said:

    This is so true!!! We fordefully suppress the voice of kids as if they have nothing to offer in the learning process!!!

  12. Another special from Okechukwu Ofili. *applause*

    Ofili, I teach a little as a Corper serving in Lagos. It is usually a big temptation to quiet down students who make noise. I don’t mind the noise much, as long as it relates to the topic under discussion (I teach maths), but I totally dislike meaningless chatter. I think that’s what gets to teachers.

    I personally encourage students, even the quiet or shy to speak up. Often, I MAKE them speak up. It build’s the student and builds me.

    In the final analysis, I encourage expression of views and asking questions, but I discourage meaningless chatter aka noise.

  13. Another special from Okechukwu Ofili. *applause*

    Ofili, I teach a little as a Corper serving in Lagos. It is usually a big temptation to quiet down students who make noise. I don’t mind the noise much, as long as it relates to the topic under discussion (I teach maths), but I totally dislike meaningless chatter. I think that’s what gets to teachers.

    I personally encourage students, even the quiet or shy to speak up. Often, I MAKE them speak up. It build’s the student and builds me.

    In the final analysis, I encourage expression of views and asking questions, but I discourage meaningless chatter aka noise.

  14. chidinma on said:

    True talk my brotha. bt i believ if u had bin allowed in primary school, you would have incited a demonstration in school with ur philosophies :-Xo_Oo_O.
    I think apart from the risk of students chatterin aimlessly in class & digressin frm the subjects, teachers are also afraid of their authority bein challengd.
    Thers also a general unspoken consensus that well mannered children only speak wen askd 2. & in this country, we’ve not recognised that there r no laid down rules 4 intelligence & silence sometimes supresses som kids futher.

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