Ubuntu – “I am because we are”

Ubuntu in the Matrix, source: Picwall

Maybe you read the story that circulated on Facebook. It is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. It went like this:


“An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ”UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”
‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”

I believe that when we are children, we feel Ubuntu. But the school system works against it. Take the grading system for example. Is it really useful in the learning process? (I’ve mainly forgotten the things I’ve learned for grades, and I mostly remember what I’ve learned for fun.) I feel that grading stimulates comparison, isolation, egocentricity and competition in children. It stimulates a climate where class mates become concurents, rather than team players. There is probably a link with the corporate working culture being plagued with mobbing, egoism and lack of morals and compassion.  Why are we surprised? What school ultimately teaches us is that all that really matters are our grades. You get good grades, you get ahead. Isn’t it sad? And to think that we consider ourselves “developped”.

All this created a lot of what ifs in my mind…
What if individual grading system was re-examined?
What if classes only had team projects?
What if the bond between kids wasn’t broken but cherished?
What if cooperation was encouraged more than competition?
What if kids were thought HOW to think instead of WHAT to think?

source: harisingh.com

Ubuntu – Je suis parce que Nous sommes
Peut-être que vous avez lu l’histoire qui a circulé sur Facebook. C’est l’une de mes histoires préférés:
“En Afrique, un anthropologue a proposé un jeu à un groupe d’enfants. Il a déposé un panier de fruits au pied d’un arbre et leur a dit que le premier arrivé au panier pouvait se prévaloir de tous les fruits. Lorsqu’il a donné le signal du départ, les enfants se sont pris par la main et ont couru ensemble vers le panier, puis ils ont dégusté les fruits. L’anthropologue leur a demandé pourquoi ils avaient agi de la sorte et leur réponse fut simple et claire : « Ubuntu. Comment l’un de nous peut-il être heureux si tous les autres sont tristes”
«UBUNTU» dans la culture Xhosa signifie: «Je suis parce que Nous sommes”

Je crois que lorsque nous sommes enfants, nous  sentons Ubuntu. Mais le système scolaire le detruit. Je pense que l’utilité du système de notation  dans le processus d’apprentissage peut etre remis en question. (J’ai oublie la plus part des choses que j’ai appris pour les exams, alors que je me souviens de la plus part des choses que j’ai appris par curiosité.) En plus, le systeme de notation conduit à la comparaison, l’isolement et la competition chez les enfants. Il participe à crée un climat où les camarades de classe deviennent les concurents, plutôt que les joueurs de l’équipe. Il y a peut etre un lien avec la culture de travail que nous avons actuellement, avec la presence du mobbing, et un manque de moralité et de compassion. A l’école on nous apprend  que tout ce qui compte ce sont nos notes. Vous obtenez de bonnes notes, vous avancez. Dans le fonds je pense que c’est triste. Et en plus, ils nous apprentent que nous sommes des pays “dévelopées”.

Je me pose beaucoup de questions…
Et si le système de notation individuel a été repensé?
Et si les classes ne avait que des projets d’équipe?
Et si le lien entre les enfants n’a pas été brisé, mais renforcé?
Et si la coopération a été encouragé plus que la competition?
Et si on apprenait aux enfants à reflechir au lieu de leur apprendre quoi penser?

MY 7 CHOSEN WORDS: 1.Love 2.Stubborn 3.Dreamy 4.Fruity fragrance 5.Stories 6.Extraordinary 7.Humans lana@lestandart.com

8 Comments

  • May 25, 2013

    J

    I love this post Lana and I have thought of many of your what ifs as well. Often I told myself that people or children who have much less than we do are able to smile much warmer and might even be happier. Why is it like that? Maybe because we don’t value the little things as much?

  • May 25, 2013

    Alex

    Beautiful story that is circulating. I understand your points Lana, even if I have to say that I don’t agree. Despite the problematic situation facing our global job markets, I do believe in grades as a way to encourage and treat yourself, not for others. I see them as a way to evaluate and reach my learning goals, instead of using them against others. In Sweden, seeing that I grew up partly with the SWE system and partly with what has often been voted as the best education system in the world – the Finnish school system, I have seen both sides of this problem. With, to me, two completely different systems – the other one having grades almost from first class and the other one (at least during my time) introducing it in 8th grade (now 6th I think), based on my experience I would still prefer the Finnish one. Yes, it will likely make you more goal-oriented and focused during your studies, but it also motivates you to keep going and a perspective of wanting to go further, not only for competition, but simply to do better (at least based on my own perspective) in this world. Things are possible if you fight for them. The swe system was (don’t know the current system) much more lose, which creates or could create a problem of not caring instead. So, I guess my point is that I wanted to shred light on the good thing about having grades as well, and this was only one of those points – however, I do agree with your way of thinking in that it might (not always) or is likely to create a more individualistic and competitive culture – but it doesn’t have to lead to cold-heartedness :)

    • May 25, 2013

      Lana

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Alex…I understand…and I would also like to have a system that measures progress…I just wanted to question grading as it is right now …just start thinking about new and maybe better possibilities..

    • May 25, 2013

      J

      I get your point Alex, but maybe that is just valid for good students, doubt the motivational factor for students who only receive bad grades. And then again, how objective are the grades really? In the end it is a teachers opinion on something/you most of the time.

  • May 25, 2013

    Lana

    Maybe people who live in societies that haven’t forgoten the principles such as UBUNTU are happier…we live in a society where we are manipulated with the concept of hapiness…it is used for selling us products. I don’t know..but it might have something to do with it..

  • May 25, 2013

    Alex

    Yes girls, I understand what you are coming from. But somehow I still believe in the good of grading systems, cause I have not always been a good student but the grades made me want it more and try myself and what I am able to do with my life (and no grades are certainly not the only right measurement of that for everybody, but it worked well for me due to my own attitude). Measurements are always measurements and the interpretation of the results may vary according to person and subjective taste – I’ve been through those problems so many times as well but somehow it has (like they are stubborn to remind us) prepared me for all the challenges in life and work situations when people will constantly evaluate your work and having a good relationship with those situations already has helped me.

    I guess, my point was not the question regarding good/bad grades problems, it was more of showcasing the benefits of having a motivational system like that to grow yourself – in comparison to a system lacking it. When it comes down to it, I think most things depends on your own way of living and seeing life, your own perspective. Not which tools you ought to use or are faced with, we as humans tend to adapt. Okay, as children we grow up with constant systems of pressure and situations where we are constantly tested. The backside is likely to be that we might lose our way and give in for pressure and feel bad about ourselves. There are so many kids that grow up with a lot of uncertainties and volatile things in their lives (I’ve been there too), why a system like this might only make it worse (it did for me at first, but then it helped me to get motivated and care). Yes that’s true. But for me, while growing up in an unstructured system during difficult times – only made it worse. When I first move to Finland, after coming from a relaxed easy-going-no-care system in Sweden (easy to get lost), faced with a very much focused and systematic way of working in Finland, I was all of a sudden the worst kid in class being graded for the first time in my life and part of a new way of living, was a bit of a shock. I remember working on such high math levels that they were working on during the last year of secondary school in Sweden – already in my first year (where even some of my teachers made fun of my math skills). It made me want to prove myself wrong and even more so my teachers and my classmates. Then when I moved back to SWE again, I wasn’t able to take beginners French classes (cause those had already started) but had to take it with people who had practiced it two years more than me. So for me, working with targets (and those are my own) within a evaluation system has helped me during these times of moving, quite difficult as a teenager. I guess the most difficult part of a system like that, as you pointed towards, is that we need to learn how to feel satisfied about our own results and reaching our personal goals – but even more so, learning to set reasonable ones for ourselves. This is a tricky, yet very fruitful lesson we can – but not always – learn from being in an evaluation system. Based on a personal story in the middle of the night :)

  • May 25, 2013

    J

    I wish there was another way to motivate young kids in school and I believe there is. I mean my grandparents motivated me to learn and that without judging me. Most of what I learned anyways, I learned outside of school. Especially with classes like literature, where you have to write essays or even stories, I don’t understand how you can even grade that. It is something very personal and not everybody likes the same books for example. Then again, you can check grammar and things like that which have a rule. But is it necessary to grade it? To judge it? Do those kids who have trouble reading feel better or more motivated after learning officially that they have failed? And as Lana said, doesn’t that create competition? Maybe mobbing? What about the “brilliant” students, they never have friends, maybe if they would not only get A’s that could be different?

  • May 25, 2013

    Alex

    I think it is much more complex darling and that things are not this black and white. There are many shades of gray. And I think school, no matter how easy it is to feel overeducated today compared to the experience that is demanded of you as a young professional, it is healthy to think of it as where you learned how to think instead of what to think. At least this is how I view my own education. A place where I could practice my thinking and get challenged through tasks, despite who evaluated me or what I got for it. At least when you apply for jobs today, the jobs that demands this typical systematic and analytical thinking and way of working, usually demand a B.Sc at least but here in Finland almost always a master degree. They call it an ability to think strategically. I have a really interesting article about this debate that we are talking about. Will send it to you! This is a current and very important question for sure. And I think today it is frightening how many top students who are also social talents, privately and professionally too. I don’t know if it is because people know how crucial it is not to be a loner today when it comes to being part of various communities and professional opportunities. I at least have many friends who have top grades and have a great social life in between, not saying that its not difficult. So many are burned our before they are 30 cause life is so demanding. This is also everyday food here. Definitely.