There is a mother somewhere who is worried that her child is rather too dull and has low prospects of growing into a bright future.

A father is employing all theatrics and teachers he knows to help his son wade through the academic wars and difficulties he is facing. The father fears that his son may amount to something less than he has imagined due to his poor performance in school.

Sick with worry is a boy who after seeing the contents of his result slip is scared to his bones, worried that his parents will again reiterate how necessary it is that he studies hard and not be a disappointment to them. They will not see the big ‘A’ that stands beside the subject Literature nor will they accept it even when seen. They are not aware of the efforts he put in in the exams to ensure there is something presentable to gift his parents with.

Similar situations like those cited above abound in different degrees and measures. Parents and teachers are faced with children who perform poorly in school and are susceptible to be tagged dull. Yet, before we are quick to give them the tag, we must look at what intelligence truly is and what criteria we are employing in the measurement of the intelligence and brilliance of children.

In Nigeria’s educational system like almost every other worldwide where examinations are a test of the extent of learning that took place within a specific period, many people over time have begun to opine that these exams are not the true test of knowledge. In spite of this assertion, examinations still hold a high throne in homes and schools who continually rate a child’s prospects based on the performance in academics.

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This trend poses a great danger and it is one parents and teachers should guide against. Often time, there are kids who are incredibly smart and intelligent with a creative ability to innovate and initiate solutions outside the sphere of a restriction that can be found in our educational system. Sadly, ours is a system which inhibits creativity, which emphasizes on what you know rather than on how you can apply what you know. Kids who are initiative are starved in this system and end up with a poor performance than would necessarily be accepted as excellent. Kids like these are those we are likely to end up calling dull.

But before we drop the dullard tag and tie it tight around their necks, stuffing it into the deepest parts of their subconscious, we should consider the possibility of being wrong in our assumptions.

A common definition of intelligence which is possessing “a quickness of understanding and an ability to apply knowledge and skills to a high level” should give us something to chew on before we give up on a child being called intelligent.

As stated earlier, ours is a system that is constricting and restrictive in nature, too rigid for improvement. Hence, how reliable is an examination conducted under a system as ours is in providing us the basics of measuring intelligence?

This article is in no way undermining the importance of good academic performance. On the contrary, it is geared at helping parents and teachers look beyond the normal narrative and delve deeper into the capabilities of children who have difficulty excelling at school. This article seeks not to give tips on how to help a child suffering academically, a previous post on this blog has taken care of it (http://thearenaweekly.myschoolarena.com/2017/12/04/helping-struggling-students-learn-better/). This article however seeks to shed more light on why no child should be called dull.

Many notable scientists and world achievers will under the educational system be nothing close to who they are or were or even achieved. In fact, some of them were pronounced dull by their teachers, an example is Albert Einstein. For the fact that a child is not showing the usual signs of excellence under our own rules and guidelines does not connote the child as being dull.

For what it is worth, it is the role of teachers and parents to open up a new world of possibilities to a child like that. What serious thing do they love doing and spending time at other than their academics, where do they see themselves in the nearest future, what subjects other than the core subjects like English and Mathematics do they excel at? Some children are arts inclined, others may be good at the sciences and others some other aspects of life. Find these things out, and help the child evolve into the intelligent person he/she can be before labelling them dull and relegating them to the background.



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