On Tuesday this week, one of our lecturers came to class and said that our cat for this semester would be based o n group work presentations. Since students, most students rather, don’t like sit-in CATs, they received the decision with glee and jubilation. I didn’t. I like doing my own work. You may call it geocentricism. However, even though I do not like group work for academic work, I had to comply lest I lose the precious thirty marks. And so, as soon as the communication was made, I set out round the class to ‘recruit’ members to ‘my group’. Then, a certain guy, a classmate, whispered my name and I went to hear what he had to say.
“You guys are not being fair to us. How can you select yourselves, the whole top cream of the class to a single group? For example, in the last group, you just hand-picked the crème de la crème of the class. These groups should have intellectual balance…” the guy went on lamenting.
I allowed him talk without interruption. Finally, I made some few comments and thanked him for airing his concerns. That small angry talk set thoughts in me rolling. Honestly speaking, i had not known that the other class members saw our group as a ‘unique’ one. And, we just found ourselves in groups. Nobody really picked person A, B, C… to be in a particular group. Hitherto, I have never thought that even in university we have ‘classes’ based in one’s performance, or people thought them to be in existence. You see, that classmate suggested that we had grouped ourselves based on intellectual smartness. I was made to believe that academic supremacy and competition ended with KCSE; and that campus was a place to hone skill and network with people.
However oblivious I was of my friend’s observation, I truly got disturbed by the statements. I even dreaded the possibility of those statements being true, and even worse, being true that people make associates based on class performance. I got disturbed because, if that turned to be the reality in our classes, then we were misplaced, and we were on the path of losing it all. By university or college years, one is supposed to have outgrown the habit, or even the thoughts of measuring one’s worth through the perimeters of IQ. Our lecturers say it again and again that you can get a degree and graduate with a first class but still be jobless. They always put more emphasis on skills and passion. So you see, the performance on paper should not make one look down upon others. You could even need those ‘poor performers’ to secure a job.
Again, discrimination of any type is bad for peace and well being of humanity. You need to be in good terms with your neighbours so that you live peacefully and fully. Segregating other people, will be detrimental for you and for your neighbour too. Students in universities and colleges call themselves ‘Digital generation’. Such a sophisticated generation, and of the intellectual class, should not be struggling with such old vices as discrimination.
Be open to your classmates, roommates and the other ‘mates’. Forge friendships. Treat all people equally. As the Ben Carson, the celebrated neurosurgeon states in his book-Gifted Hands- be nice to people: all people. You never know what tomorrow has in store for you and your colleagues. Being in good terms with your friends, especially those on campus could be a huge way of positioning yourself for an opportunity.
In journalism classes, we are told and taught that it is OK to look stupid. Do not shy away from looking stupid. Ask questions. Seek explanations of the concepts which you don’t fathom. This therefore, means that if you do not know a certain concept, you should not self-loathe. Ask, research, find out. However, there is also a danger. Do not substitute effort for asking. Do not bank fully on your friends’ knowledge. Try to read, to research, so that when you meet, as a group for example, you can contribute to the discussion that you will hold as a group.
Horace Mann once said that “Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery”. We must not allow the very cause of unity, for we who are in colleges and universities, work against us. It should work for our common good. And, it can work that way, it must work that way; and if it does not, then we are done.