SEEKAPOR | an Educational Companion


Today being Thursday, I reminisce about some things we did with our hands growing up and can still do as adults.

This stems from a conversation the Citi FM radio morning show host, Bernard Avle, started today.

Unfortunately, I missed the author of the book he was reading excerpts from. However, my take home before I had to leave to attend to other issues was the author’s emphasis on handiwork, which he said was a compulsory part of his senior high school education in Achimota School: carpentry (which was mandatory for all boys), modelling, pottery, gardening, amongst others.

I have read books in which the authors talk about music, dance, and poetry as components of the holistic education they received and how the skills contributed positively to shaping them.

I digress; good autobiographies are underrated genres, but they have been my best reads for a while now. They have a way of inciting, inspiring and pushing you to take action. It clarifies the saying, “Because of them, we can”.

Students of the present age (say 2017 to date) no longer have this luxury. However, previously, there was a 3-month wait period after the B.E.C.E before we entered S.S.S and a year’s break after S.S.S before we got into university.

This period allowed some of us to learn to use our hands.

My father enrolled my brother into a fitting shop for a month and a fashion house for another month when he finished B.E.C.E. In the last month, he used it to rest and prepare to enter S.S.S.

My other brother worked as an office administrator, filing court writs, sending emails and running errands. The part of the job (without pay) that he detested was finding the particular court and, even before that, finding how to get there by public transport. If he got down at the wrong spot, he had to walk. He acknowledged later that this hectic part of the job significantly heightened his “street sense”, a skill he will use to date.

After S.S.S., like most people, he learnt to drive and cook. He had his day of feeding the household.

I on the other hand, worked with a popular researcher, which allowed me to use computers for more relevant things than I knew at the time. I learned to interact with people of all ages and walks of life. Ultimately, I learned to communicate proficiently in Twi, Ga and Ewe. Before that, I only spoke English, although my parents are Ewes. I was also enrolled into a culinary school for a month. At school and even at home, beyond cooking, I learned how to manage food wastage, cook within a given time frame, clean properly, store food, and preserve nutrients while cooking. My mother also taught me basic sewing, but i learnt crocheting and knitting from Life Skills lessons and the Girl Guide Club (those two are non-existent now)

Currently, most of my younger relatives only use their hands to control T.V remotes and PSPs, and their tablets.

Very few people take up apprenticeships. Those who do are perceived to be academically weak. Nothing encourages us to use our hands practically.

How do parents expect their wards to excel academically when they do not give their wards practical experiences with what they learn?

The author of the book on the show I mentioned above highlighted what a skill like carpentry did for them and how it opened their minds.

For example, what better way to understand math than to calculate time or travel a distance?

We use digital watches to talk about time, so even telling the time analogically is being lost.

What better way to understand agriculture than to tend a farm, garden, or rare animals?

School compounds with farms or gardens now have structures and pavements with artificial greenery.

We complain that our values and cultures have given way to foreign ones we disapprove of. Have we bothered to teach our wards their native languages?

Please note. Language is an intrinsic part of culture. It communicates values, beliefs, and customs, so losing a language means losing its associated culture.

The Christmas holidays are short, but it’s not impossible to fuse in some handiwork – clay play, pastry making and even D.I.Y. Christmas hangings – there are tutorials on everything on YouTube- no excuses!

Neurologists say that working with hands enhances brain chemistry. An activity like knitting requires patience and attention to detail, which increases certain neurochemicals.

An extreme importance of handiwork is job security; no one can take a skill learned away from you.



1 responses on "HANDICRAFT"

  1. This made very interesting reading. It seems that in making life “easy” for our children we are actually failing to give them the necessary tools to succeed in the real world.

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