Updated: Oct 3, 2022
Words by Dr. Christine Owinyi, Cohort 4 Fellow
Play and exploration are what makes children grow. Making mistakes is part of learning and also part of growing. I keep reflecting on my childhood days with a lot of nostalgia, some of the things we did with my siblings in the early 80s still perturb me till now. In most occasions, we received structured strokes because both our parents were teachers and so to say, disciplinarians. No mischief was overlooked. One day my kid brother and I started asking ourselves how chicken did go for short-calls because we could see how cows did relieve themselves same to other animals like dogs and donkeys, but never did we see chicken do it except for the dung.
Dr. Tina with children from her initiative-GLG
My mother was a good poultry farmer and there were so many chickens at our home and all of them had the same colour, we saw our mother collect so many eggs from the chicken house every evening and this kept surprising us. One day, my brother thought; “what if we helped these chicken get some water and have them go for short-call?” Although younger than me, I had always seen my brother as a genius and so all his ideas were great. He sent me to get a ‘Cofta’ bottle from the house, when I came back I found that he had already fetched enough water ready for operation. We filled the bottle with water and picked one chicken after the other and poured all the water in the bottle into the chicken from behind as we set them free. Since it was a lot of water we poured into each chicken, we hoped to see water coming out but that didn’t happen. When our mother came back in the evening, our old grandmother who was watching us all day without saying a word reported to us. I still remember the strokes I received till today. I cried the whole evening and was even not able to eat dinner on that day.
Thinking about this incident rings a bell in my head as I keep pushing the 21 st Century skills agenda forward for Education for Sustainable Development(ESD) which I am promoting is anchored on having everyone take care of themselves others and the planet and the 21 st century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information, research skills and practices, interrogative questioning, creativity, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression, communication and collaboration are of focus.
Instead of the strokes, our mother could have supported us to understand the digestive system of chicken whenever she slaughtered one since we were trying to explore to discover the unknown. Instead of fault-finding, our grandmother could have seen what we did in the positive light and stopped us from what we were doing by correcting us and explaining the repercussions. Children grow and learn better through experiments that is why all adults should be positive towards competency-based learning which encourages learners to explore different means of getting results. Probably if I and my brother lived as children now and our parents having to go through some sensitization on parental empowerment and engagement, we could be the best scientists in the world. Children should be allowed to experiment on various means of solving problems for them to grow knowing that there are different ways to approach a challenge and the motivation should be at the final results.
Encouraging recycling at an early age, kids make paper mache using old newspapers.
When I see young children today, I keep imagining the number of things we can do together to enable them to develop the 21 st Century skills and this is the main reason behind my initiative of the Pick Up Trash campaign that I am engaging learners in my neighbourhood to pick up trash not just to keep the environment clean but also to learn how to take care of themselves, others and the planet by giving love hoping to get love back. The reason for the Pick up trash campaign is to sensitize everyone to pick trash and dispose of it in the right place to make it possible to Refuse; Reduce; Reuse; Recycle; repair; Rethink and Reconnect trash. The GLGL Kids have started to learn how to apply the 7Rs of sustainability by preparing paper mache from old newspapers and reusing wastewater bottles in gardening as shown in the pictures. By initiating this campaign, I aim at giving learners to explore and in the process explore the 21 st Century skills. “What if all learners in the world were supported to take care of themselves, others and the planet?”