The expression signa templorum (Signs of Times) is rooted in scripture (Mt 16: 1-4 and Lk 12: 54-56). Uganda is largely educated, but few people are learned. Today, there is a progressive decline in characters and values in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres. Many social evils are common place, such as corruption, human rights violations, and greed for power, immorality, ethno-regional divisions, gender inequality and domestic violence among others.
This loss of the essential human values is a crystal clear ‘signs of times’ that cannot be ignored by both parents and teachers if they build for the future. Hence are called to read attentively and interpret wisely the various ‘signs of times’ so as to make good discernment about our actions in particular situations of the modern world in its hic et nunc (here and now) context with all its challenges, transformations and aspirations. (D. Dorr, The Furrow, 59/10 (2008), 547-552.)
Therefore, this guarantees the need for a new millennium of education and parenting which does not only read the signs of times, but also becomes a ‘living sign’ in the society announcing a holistic humanity- the “sign par excellence.” This requires bold and zealous men and women who take seriously the signs of times so as to bridge the divide between education and social evils. Parents and teachers need to interact with the social, economic, cultural and political structures and permeate the values for the holistic promotion of the human person.
Aristotle notes, “The ultimate goal of education is change of character and minds, and the purpose of knowledge is action, which can transform one’s life morally, and advance the communist power.” However, reading the signs of times is not about applying universal, timeless principles to them, but rather about social discernment, individually or collectively which eventually becomes a basis for decision making and strategic planning for life.
In the lens of the above, from the Latin, educere alludes to a lifelong process that at times provides human needs with a training of character and minds. It seeks to build in the mind of an individual an organization of knowledge, skills and attitude, values, ideas and habits which help one to cope up with the world to help us accomplish the fruits of the world. Therefore, education is an instrument of change and development. Nevertheless, education is a teaching and learning process that ought to be guided by three intertwined dynamics: completeness, contextualization and collaboration. (Cardinal Peter Turkson: peace on earth, October, 2013).
On the other hand, learning refers to the process of acquiring knowledge and knowing something such as driving, tailoring and so forth. Education takes three essential principals: the child, parents and the teachers, none of whom is indispensable. Dear parents, paying school dues are now new norms where many of you have attained success. It is no longer making news for teachers to attend classes regularly; they need to take an extra mile to make sure that they are proud of their products. It is now high time we adjusted education to the understanding of the existentialists. This would enhance the learner’s ability to decide correctly, develop his initiative, keep him search for and discover himself and to cultivate self-reliance as a key character trait. However, the most favored method is the Socratic method of teaching because it involves the learner in activity through dialogue, it brings new ideas to birth (Socratic midwifery) and it accords recognition to the learner.
In somewhat, dear stakeholders, as child grows, it is good to increase and measure independences so that they take some simple decisions by themselves. They can grow intellectually as they learn their academic work, socially as they make and learn to live with new friends/peers outside the safety net of home, physically as they play or participate in games, emotionally and psychologically as they learn to handle disagreeable situations among non-family members and spiritually if the school is purposeful about the moral and ethical formation of the child.
Stop pampering your children, don’t prepare for them, rather, prepare them. This is the toughening that every child needs to grow through. This is neither called for nor healthy, let the child grow normally as a socially balanced child, and for this, if you send him/her for the wrong reasons, you regret later. Kindly help students understand that very few people especially in Uganda have enjoyed school moments better than home. That is why school life lasts for a short time but prepares us for a challenging real world for life. Let them stop partaking on adult life while still living in young bodies and minds. Great things are ahead of them.
Written by: SSEKANJAKO DERICK
UGANDA MARTYRS’ NATIONAL MAJOR SEMINARY, ALOKOLUM, GULU-UGANDA.