“My child is mature, big in body size, old enough to face pressure, brilliant.” These are some reasons a couple of ladies I met in a store gave for encouraging their children to skip certain classes in primary or secondary schools.
I believe a lot of parents want to be celebrated like the parents of the 14-year-old Nigerian prodigy called Joshua Beckford who graduated from the University of Oxford at a very young age, but I can’t but wonder how he would manage his educational achievements, taking into consideration his age.
Some of these young children end up being stuck in a situation they aren’t ready for or mature and experienced to handle. Some parents decisions are based on financial consideration. But for the parents, it’s just based on what I call “PARENTAL PEER PRESSURE”. A lot just want to brag about what young age their children attained their educational achievements and are not concerned about how the children feel or if they actually understand what they are up or in for.
A single mum, who does menial jobs to cater for her two sons, shared how she was encouraged to allow her son skip a class but declined. She was told that her son was brilliant and would do well if he skipped to the next class. If a mother with little or no education and a meagre source of income could take the decision to ensure her son stayed back for the full 6 years in primary school, what’s happening to those I believe should know better.
Does anyone truly understand the pain, struggles, confusion these children have to deal with? Is every child suddenly a prodigy or genius like Joshua Beckford?
In a bit of research on prodigies, how they grow and turn out when they eventually become adults, I took a particular interest in the violinist and conductor, Julian Rachlin. Rachlin said, “Being told you’re a genius at 11 years old can wreak havoc on a child’s mind. It’s very dangerous to be portrayed as that sort of prodigy because 99 percent of those prodigies don’t last very long. I have never been treated by my friends and family as a prodigy. I have been treated as little Julian who loves making music, so I never felt a prodigy. The life of a child prodigy can either go one way (the bad way, in which all the pressure leads to failure and a lifetime of misery) or another, in which you’re Mozart and people still buy your music 200 years after you die”
What happened to all the motherly love, instinct, affection, bond? I know a father would most times give consent to the mother when it comes to taking a decision on the child but how does a mother feel sending off a child at such tender age to face pressures that are not related to this age.
Another parent who pleaded anonymity shared her frustrations on how companies request that job applicants should not be more than 21 years with a minimum of 3-years experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at our system and policies. I encouraged the mother to positively engage her children. This they could achieve by finding out what the child is passionate about. Overtime, requisite experiences would be gained and documented.
In as much as I don’t support the age limit that some companies request, in terms of experiential requirements, I believe they are asking for individuals who can think on their own, who are solution-oriented with the tenacity and ability to function on their own with little or no supervision.
But parents need to understand that it takes time to nurture a child and by hurrying them, they are grooming half-baked children. It is important for parents to critically examine the effects of putting their kids under pressure before taking steps about pushing their children forward early; because the childhood of these children are stolen all in the name of wanting them to be competitive or to finish at a young age.
We should encourage our children to study, play and generally enjoy their childhood and grow up gradually and systematically. Those who are prodigious will stand out not one-eyed kings in the class of the blind. We should recommend, recognize, appreciate the laws and policies other countries practice and put in place. We should continue to yearn for a nation where such orderliness is observed and practiced. But with this attitude of racing the child down in education are we making or breaking the educational system in our country.
We have policies guiding and stating what age a child is supposed to start school. It is necessary for the relevant authorities in our educational system to ensure strict enforcement of those policies and punish defaulters. At the end of the day, children and their future is ours to protect. God help us to help our children and promote the greater good of our country and humanity.