November 20, 2012
The Stifling of Creativity in Education: Reification and Cultural Marginalization in Postcolonial Schooling
"Popular culture is like pornography—in, oh, so many ways: we may not be able to define it, but we know it when we see it" (Parker, 2011). I could not agree more with Parker on his simple definition of what popular culture is. We see popular culture on our screens every day. Our ways of life in one way or the other are manifested all the time in films, music and other literary work. It is very hard to come across a movie that is only entertainment and not trying to portray a part of our cultural beliefs. Particularly in the 21st century, movies have developed and are influential enough to tell us 'what we are made of'. Depending on the genre or kind, they tell distinct messages. Whichever way we look at a movie, what must be vividly recognized is the fact that they portray a part of our being as well as tell us something worthwhile of ourselves and society as a whole. The Bollywood movie, Three Idiots, directed by Rajkumar Hirani shows how the educational system places more emphasis on rote learning as well as how schools stifle creativity, although the film takes place in India, this also holds true for Ghanaian society because the school systems are relics of the colonial times.
The first part of this arguement is going to be established on the various reasons why I believe the Ghanaian educational system places emphasis on certain learning practices that only prepare us for the job market. It will also focus on how the system causes people to look down on certain disciplines of study thereby stifling creativity. These arguments will be backed up by the movie Three Idiots. The educational system only prepares us for the job market and commodifies us students, as instruments liable for exchange in the economy. This practice according to the theory of Marxism is reification. It refers to the manner in which human beings are used as substances or elements that can be used in the process of production.
Granted the above, Three Idiots is not just about three idiots as the title implies but has to do with three engineering students whose characterizations highlight how true the above rationalization is for most post-colonial countries, which includes Ghana. From the satire, it is made clear that popular culture as depicted in movies has a great deal to do with our ways of life. Often, we have heard of or even witnessed students shelve their own personal goals and aspirations because they have to live up to the pressures and expectations of their parents and the society at large. The movie reveals how hollow our educational system is, how it most often trains us to become human resource assets in this present day. The educational system and its actors have failed in training us to be creative or rather allowing us to showcase our creativity. It instead turns us into commodities useful in the job market. The validity of this arguement is based on how rote learning in our system has become the norm. Presently, the basic need of the Ghanaian educational system has been commercialized into an economic venture.
I believe however that our systems sprung up from that of the colonial times and hence a little background is necessary. In the 1980s the Europeans trooped into our continent and tried all means possible to Europeanize us. They hence instituted certain learning practices that did nothing but belittle our own identity. Our practices were now tagged barbaric. It was at this time that rote learning was introduced into the system. At that time also, this was the normal way of learning in Europe. However after colonialism, we failed to get rid of such practices. In the movie, the so called idiots, Farhan Qureshi, Raju Rastogi and Ranchodas Shamaldas Chanchad study engineering at the Imperial College of Engineering ( ICE). It is seen how much emphasis is placed on rote...