Drug Abuse And Half-baked Graduates Syndromes: Some Hot Tips For Sustainable Learning By Mubarak ibrahim
It is indeed a gripping story of a tragic valour and desperation. It all happened, like a nightmare, in our neighbourhood when a sudden blood-curdling scream jolted me out of my morning doze. Trembling with fear, I darted out to satisfy my curiosity. The biting cold in the piercing wind buffeted me as I crossed a smelly ditch, with dozens of flies ushering me into the entrance of a neighbouring house. When I espied a figure in death throes, my pulse rate told my instincts to shout for help in the first place, but I delayed the action irresistibly when I saw a man coming out from the inner doorway who, like me, dashed out to see what was going on. There before us, lied Nagodi unconscious talking gibberish, foaming at the mouth and looking at the heaven above. A certain alarmed boy standing behind him, who almost cried his heart out to announce this tragedy, suddenly broke the silence with another yell. “Yaya! What happened? Goggo! Yaya is dead!” The man, who happened to be Nagodi’s father, silenced the boy with a manly commanding voice and then helped me carry Nagodi into the house. I haven’t said a word yet when, in a total frustration and confusion, Nagodi’s mother, a stout woman, strangled me from behind wailing: “shege you are the culprit! You infected him with this evil! Curse you! I will kill you today!” There, when I got smothered, feeling stuffy, I struggled inadvertently and violently to free my self from her firm grip. I tried my hardest but to no avail. Realising that she might suffocate me to death, Nagodi’s father came to my rescue. We had to fight her a little before she let go off my neck. She was punching and scratching and cursing when the rescuer dragged her into her room and asked me to go out.
Nagodi was a stubbornly adamant friend of mine who had been a drop-out for almost a decade. Being neighbours and within the same age bracket, he and I went the same primary school, secondary school and thereafter, went our separate ways. I finished my Degree last year when he just awakened to the importance of learning and regretted the years he spent doing inanities. It was indeed tragic to know that he became a changed person and took after his study seriously only to have got into the habit of taking herbally concocted tea (Gadagi) like “hadin Kyankyaso brand”, “ba zama brand”, “aji garau brand” and, sometimes, drugs to burn the midnight oil. Consequently, he became insomniac, grew thin, pale and worried that he could hardly read. This worried his conservative mother more and, in utter dejection, came to hate boko and all Nagodi’s friends that spurred and encouraged him. That windy and freezing morning, when his ailment reached a climactic point, his mental wiring got a certain natural disconnection that rendered him unconscious. The boy let out a piercing shriek when he saw Nagodi, before going into the deep coma, shaking violently in a supra-epileptic seizure outside his room in the corridor to the inner house. It was indisputably a horrific sight! Although all the neighbours within earshot were alarmed by the scream, I was quick to respond because of the intimacy between us.
Now, looking at Nagodi’s condition, one can bring to mind some nights and days when or before examination commences in colleges and universities. We fill all libraries, occupy shades and silent zones, gather around certain bright colleagues, parasitically sponging off their brain, taking coffee and kola nut to stay awake, and sometimes, pestering some teachers for “area of concentration”. Why do we do so? Why can’t we be serious and committed in our studies from the beginning? Are we at school just for certain worldly and capitalistic gains after, or for the purpose of learning about acceptable ways of life, and to get rid of our illiteracy, our uncivilised attitude, our barbaric nature and hostility towards ‘modern’ or new ideas? Arguably, this kind of brief learning doesn’t amass real, dependable and extensive knowledge. We rather end up with “a little or no learning” at all. And, in the words of Alexandre Pope, ” a little learning is a dangerous thing” which is, probably, the reason why we are “half-baked” graduates, only bragging to friends. Pope explains further that such a thing (little learning) intoxicates learners, sounding like empty barrels, but drinking enough from the fountain of knowledge, “sobers us again”. “So by false learning is good sense defaced”, added Pope.
Like Nagodi, Yautai and Jalo get hospitalised at the end of every semester. They always spend sleepless nights, under the influence of “Kyankyaso” herbal tea, cramming hard for the exam. But, the learning forced into brain in the closing days of semester is not always registered by long-term memory as it is only examination-oriented. It is quickly forgotten and therefore becomes a failure. In other words, a last-ditch attempt to prevent “failure”, is already a failure. A failure indeed that translatably pre-exists the attempt. Although very ironical, the claim, if carefully examined, shows the futility and absurdity of such a pointless scholarship. Learning should not be temporary, fake and forced as such, rather it should be an interesting, intended and purposeful endeavour. Unless learning is viewed this way, we can not obtain pragmatic, workable and “real knowledge”, which is the best mechanism for social transformation.
For Socrates, knowledge is virtue and therefore, all men by nature desire knowledge. He also broadly distinguishes between two sorts of knowledge. One is moral knowledge which comprises of knowing what is good and bad or knowing about virtues and vices. The other is what could be called expert knowledge or knowing about specialised skills, craftsmanship. He categorically emphasizes the former showing that, people having the knowledge of what is good and bad would inevitably be doing the right thing. Similarly, I want to give prominence to this moral knowledge. If we learn to gain this kind of knowledge, we can be mentally free and intellectually ready to reform our sorry situation.
Nowadays, elders and teachers have started giving up on students or youths as the leaders for tomorrow because, we (the students) myopically seem to be busy building castles in the air or, busy with utopian visions of our future after school. In other words, we think, detrimentally, of our individual not communal betterment only and, ironically, this worsens our situation. Were we to keep up learning and become morally knowledgeable, we would bring a change or reformation to our country. This is because, knowledge is a powerful factor which helps man to attain success, enables him to find the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. It helps him overcome his weakness and faults and face dangers and difficulties with courage and confidence. It gives him mental, moral and spiritual advancement. Besides this, it is through knowledge that man has gained mastery over nature. Advancement of civilization and culture would be impossible without knowledge. Knowledge plays an important role in the progress of art, literature, science, philosophy and religion. It extends the frontiers of human consciousness. So knowledge is power. Mighty minds with power of knowledge rule millions.
My dear friend, why then do you regard studying as a tough, frustrating chore? Why do you prefer watching movies or football matches, gossiping, facebooking, whatsapping and twittering to reading your books? I would like to remind you that constant studying or learning is wonderful and rewarding. It gives more confidence, broader interests, greater knowledge and understanding, and more purpose in life. It also strengthens our capabilities all round. We automatically pick up practical know-how from day-to-day study experience. Therefore, if we persistently study, we become true humans with purpose and vision.
Furthermore, some handy tips can be supportive. Hence, I recommend that you, my dear colleague, use your intelligence strategically and systematically to understand how you learn. You need to get yourself organised so that you manage your time effectively. Understanding the nature of learning at University level is also important. Comparatively, what we learn and how we learn in secondary schools are already planned, strategised and decided for us. But, at higher levels or universities, we decide our own priorities, set our own targets and work our own strategies for achieving them. So, you can start here by asking; what do I want to achieve from my studies? This way, you can understand what it is you are trying to achieve. You also need to know how to keep your spirits up. There’s nothing more damaging to your studies than low morale. You start with an enthusiastic spirit but insidiously, a pervasive apathy seizes you. So, learn to manage your morale.
Finally, I urge you my friend to gather your wits and be shrewd in your academic endeavour. I also implore you to develop a scholarship mind so that you secure “sweetness and light”.
KANO STATE COLLEGE OF ARTS, SCIENCE AND REMEDIAL STUDIES (CAS)