The three missing words 




Since educational reform is on the table for discussion in Parliament, I would like to suggest that they insert somewhere in those reforms three old fashioned words: curiosity, forgiveness and love.

These words, to me, still lie at the heart of all learning.

I can tell you that in primary and secondary school, our curiosity was called impertinence and if I learnt one lesson it was that all problems had been solved and defined. The teacher knew all the answers, so don’t question but instead memorise all that they say.

Further, forgiveness was frowned upon as weakness. So if you erred, don’t get caught! If you made a mistake, defend it to death. Mistakes were punished, not forgiven. And love, now that was a shocking thought.

And this does not end with schools abut also organisations. They do not encourage curiosity, forgiveness and love either. Procedures, reprimands, and appraisal systems are the preferred devices.

But in life, learning has to start with curiosity. If you do not ask questions, you will not get answers from yourself or anyone else. Think of children, poking their noses everywhere. Lose your curiosity and you become a ‘cabbage’.

And it is all there in the Bible: curiosity, forgiveness, love: they are all there.

Then the mistakes? We all make these when we try something new; ask Mabirizi.

But we cannot learn from them unless we accept they are mistakes. Punish them and we get defensive; forgive them and we can work on them.

And then there is love, or what I call “unconditional positive regard”. Children will accept any rebuke from someone who they know loves them dearly. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Grown-ups are no better; we can accept a rebuke much better if it comes from someone we know cares about us. We know too that warm encouragement brings out the best in us as does support.

I wonder now about the Biblical admonition that we cannot get to heaven unless we become like little children. I wonder if perhaps Jesus is not suggesting that the ways in which children learn should be our ways, our ways to reach our full potential, our full humanity?

And it is all there in the Bible: curiosity, forgiveness, love: they are all there. It is a great idea for Parliament to consider them seriously as they make laws for this country.

The writer is a UCU law school finalist.