I was talking with a friend the other day; she had found this video on Instagram of a teacher who was advising parents not to react negatively to a child’s failure in a particular subject because they simply might not be interested in it. An artist may not necessarily like math, an accountant may have no use for integrated science and so on. My first reaction was indignation, no child of mine was going to dictate how I was going to react to their perceived failures, I didn’t dictate how my parents reacted to mine or how they acted upon it, then it hit me… I didn’t dictate how my parents reacted to mine or acted upon it! It got thinking of one of those strange lessons that pop in my head when idleness sets in, lol.
It reminded me of the expression I was taught as a kid in computer class “GIGO; Garbage in garbage out”, I use the term now not as a computer student obviously but as a student at life in general (learning, unlearning and relearning); our input is one of the deciding factors that determine our output or simply put I can’t have what I did not get and subsequently, I can’t give what I do not have! Most people I know would argue that we’re not computers and that in fact we have the inherent advantage as humans to be individualistic both in thinking and in action and while I do not refute that school of thought, I also think that man is not one thing, but a combination of influences, so I’d say that while we’re capable of making independent decisions uninfluenced by our environment (whatever that is made up of), that happens to be the road less travelled. I knew that the teacher on Instagram had a valid point but my subconscious had been programmed another way by the only other thing I had known; my own experience of how my parents treated my academic successes and failures and how the decisions they made was a major influencing factor in the story of my life.
There’s another story of a boy who witnessed firsthand the abuse his mother received from his father, he grew up hating his father as a result and as a result got very protective of his mother, this boy grew up and became a man old enough to marry; one would think he’d learn from his experience right? Wrong of course, he became a chronic wife beater too. On his mum’s 60th, he cried while commending her for being patient and talked about how he one day hoped his wife would be like his mother. Even though he hated his father for beating his mom, he had been programmed to be a wife beater himself, could he have helped it? Maybe. What were his chances? I say slim to none!
When people say experience is the best teacher, most of the time, the experience is negative, but is experience really that much of a good teacher? Does it really teach us not to make the same mistakes of the past? I don’t know, Nigeria makes for a pretty good argument that it doesn’t. I think it’s more of a decision to part away with some of ourselves, it is actively rejecting the norms that whether we want to admit it or not has been ingrained in us, because if we remain passive in ourselves, we’ll let experience teach us right into ruin and the change we expect will never come.