Kofi Bentil is right to be angry and so am I

Thu, 7 Apr 2016 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

It is extremely difficult experience for the human consciousness to cede to superior knowledge or admit fallibility when we are so much convinced of our own frail epistemology. And it takes a lot of courage and wisdom for anybody to admit that I am wrong. On that score, I am prepared to sympathise with Professor J.A. Quarm. On the other hand, I cannot allow my personal sentiments to compromise my objective analysis of the unpardonable error in the textbook used for teaching six year olds under the auspices of the Ghana Education Service.

Centuries ago, when human technology and knowledge were in rudimentary stage by modern standards, we used to think that the world was flat. We now know better, though there are some die-hard nuts who still believe this celestial body we call home is flat irrespective of the incontrovertible visual evidence from the NASA space station and the wonderful images from the Hubble telescope. As a result, we have completely dispensed with the flat earth theory.

Poverty and the limitations within the scope of our knowledge have rendered the head, in our society, as beast of burden. In our major cities, hawkers carry around their goods on their heads to sell for their daily bread. It’s not the best option; poverty is what constrains them to choose that route. Educating our children is a means to eliminate poverty. It is meant to open new vistas and horizon that will help increase their alternatives in the future. And how do you deposit into their consciousness knowledge that will reinforce and perpetuate the poverty that education is supposed to vanquish.

We have gotten to a point in our developmental odyssey to discourage the idea of using the head as a means for carrying load. It is inconceivable for a whole professor to marshal his thought processes to pen a textbook for six year olds and label the function of the head as a means for carrying load. This is what happens when you have the state running things. There is no doubt the professor would have succeeded in having his book used in some primary schools even under private enterprise. However, there would have been some school proprietors who would have objected to such mediocrity.

Kofi Bentil has already taken him to the laundry, and I would have expected him to admit that it was a mistake, but rather he has stuck to his guns. What I find ridiculous is the attempt by some of his apologists to defend this clear case of oversight, if not outright errant, information. One of the them was with the opinion that the information provided was adequate for the level of the pupils the text is intended, but it will change when their minds are matured enough to grasp the concept of thinking. Instead of admitting the mistake, they are further digging themselves into a deeper hole. The right information does not change; the complexity is what transforms with time as the education of children progresses. One plus one is two, and that is enough for six year olds. Minus six plus eight is also equal to two. The answer for the former and the latter is the same, but the determinants is what makes the difference here. The second one is complicated for most six year olds to comprehend.

Now, the most important and what makes me cringe is the fact that we live in a global village, and the knowledge that we provide our children should be universally relevant. Even when you go to some poor villages in Africa, not to mention Europe and other developed countries, they do not use their head to carry load. Such information will be out of place and inappropriate. Local knowledge is all well and good, however, if you are writing a textbook that can, perhaps, cross national boundaries you have to look at the universality of the knowledge you are disseminating.

I will back Kofi Bentil that the textbook should be withdrawn. If they think that it is too expensive to call back the whole consignment, I will suggest that they black out the unacceptable text and relabel it – for thinking. The Ghana Education Service should be able to provide the resources to accomplish that, because this is an affront to human intelligence, and no excuses should be offered whatsoever. The head is for thinking; it is not negotiable.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina