Elsewhere in my columns I have laboured to justify that character is and must be a comprehensive aim of school instruction and discipline. Indeed there is an idea of the necessary link between intelligence and character.
I have clearly expressed my worry and concern about the dimension dance and dancing in schools has taken. That topic is certainly unfinished business. I will later on soon pursue it further and more aggressively on this column and radio. For now I want to interrogate another interesting area of the new curriculum already creating serious dilemma or worrisome ignorance in implementation.
Wherever Ubunthu/ Hunhu is made mention off, it has taken and continues to take a philosophical focus and dimension. Fundis have already learnedly plunged into the word and presentation after presentation, lecture after and lecture, defining Ubunthu or Hunhu as a concept, perception and philosophy of this and that. Fundis never get tired to do that. They love defining terms, giving them feet and wings to reach every height of reflection and imagination.
My question is very simple. Is this why Dr Nziramasanga recommended that a new curriculum for a new Zimbabwe should embody Ubunthu as a factor of conscious recognition in education? Does the new curriculum want schools to treat Ubunthu as a philosophy worthy of study or is it supposed to be some form of History factually reminding students of traditional beliefs and customs that gave us honour, dignity and morality in the past? Does it (the up-dated curriculum) want or expect schools to lecture students on Theories of Morals? Or does it want schools to assist in the overt change of students’ behaviour through inchoate, nascent activities in order to nurture budding organic behavioural readjustments? Hence my question, ‘‘Is Ubunthu a philosophy or way of life?’’
It does seem this Ubunthu has already been given a new meaning in the process of educational development. The articles that I see written by several fundis over this important aspect of human development are very worrying. The agenda and tone set are far off the one of behavioural transformation. T
Hey define Ubunthu and say a lot about what it is and what many scholars say about it. None of this wisdom emphasises moral rearmament. None of it addresses the crisis of behavioural readjustment. It is all about knowledge around this grand idea, concept, perception and philosophy, and nothing practical about this critical, noteworthy, rather paradoxical, relationship of character and intelligence; of knowledge and virtue, of learnedness and substance.
It is my submission that strenuous educational insight and pursuit of correct education profoundly affects character.
Knowledge and character . . . and conduct, are linked. These must go hand in hand. A system of teaching and learning narrowly defined as education, which separates knowledge or intelligence from character is not only objectionable. It is dangerous.
The whole regime of educational development is and must be connected to conduct and self-discipline. If teaching and learning do not culminate into self-discipline and moral rearmament, there is something profoundly deficient in them. The whole system of education operates on a wrong or abstract principle.
If an education system fails to produce students or graduates who through years of habituation and strenuous discipline, in the process establishing a currency of moral ideas, that education has lost proper direction of purpose and life. Yet, to attempt to nurture character through books which lead to qualification and good jobs only, without being spiritually intimate with the idea of behavioural efficacy, is to rely upon intellectual magic. Moral education in school is a dead-end as long as we believe that school has nothing to do with character. As long as we think this way, this Ubunthu issue will as is already beginning to happen, continue to be inevitably reduced to what John Dewey calls, “. . . some kind of catechetical instruction, or lessons about morals,” [Democracy of Education, p193 — Theory of Morals]. This is Dewey’s polite way of referring to useless lectures unwisely repeating what other people think about Ubunthu instead of the practical teaching of virtues, duties and responsibilities.
Have you ever wondered why even students studying Divinity never end up divine as the name suggests? They become very knowledgeable-knowing a lot from their own heads and what other scholars think about the Bible and its contents, but never have one edge of their characters touched by the stories that make up the Bible. Why? The answer is simple. Indicating RIGHT and then turning LEFT!
That is what the school does. The school curriculum is never clear what direction it wants the teaching and learning to go. Certainly not clear on Ubunthu and dancing . . . or is it part of Music? And certainly also not clear on purpose?
If Education wants to effectively foster moral rearmament in schools . . . to change children’s behaviour, which is essentially a nobler cause of course than examinations, it must stop doing the same mistake it did with DIVINITY. Teaching into the brain and not into the heart where character is made and re-adjusted!
Since then, and that is ages, learners pass their examinations en-masse, with flying colours, but not making anyone divine.
Another dish of food for thought! Be my guest on this platform or Radio! Do not only read and listen. Take part!