Posted by: mhirdyounger | March 16, 2014

Too much head-ucation

`There is too much head-ucation in Ghana, we need to engage hearts and empower hands as well as enlightening heads.`- Dr. William Okyere, HuD Group

I attended an event this weekend put on by Agromindset about Surviving After School, encouraging youth to think about entrepreneurship and their social capital to set themselves up for success after they graduate. Ever since the program, I have been mulling over what Dr. William Okyere from HuD Group shared about too much head-ucation in Ghana. I think `head-ucation` is a critical gap in our education system in Ghana (and globally), one that is an opportunity to really invest in the potential of youth.

Head-ucation, what does it mean? It means an education that only focuses on knowledge, the acquisition of facts and figures. `Chew and pour`as one lecturer at Kwadaso Agricultural College once described to me. It`s a rote-style of teaching, encouraging the memorization of dates and names. It`s an education that is lacking.

As Dr. Okyere rightly states, education needs to also consider the heart and the hands.

With the heart, education needs to inspire youth. It needs to help youth identify their passion, dream about their future and envision their career. There`s a quote that I love that fits here perfectly: Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman. If education helps youth to come alive with their hearts and their passions, they will do great things.

With their hands, youth need to build practical skills. You can have all the knowledge and passion in the world, but if you don`t know how to do something, how to take the first step, how to apply what you know and love, you will go nowhere. Empowering hands builds the capacity of youth to apply knowledge and passion into reality, into practice.

Practical skills are best build through experiential learning. Experiential learning happens outside of the classroom. It is `doing`, it is actually experiencing what you are learning. AgEx`s work at Ghana`s agricultural colleges emphasizes experiential learning to build the skills of Ghana`s future agriculturalists. Our work on the Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship Project, scaled across Ghana, gets students out of the classroom, actually starting their own businesses in order to build their skills in entrepreneurship, business and innovation. By actually running their own businesses, students gain practical and experiential knowledge, skills and attitudes about what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We need to stop limiting youth by having them memorize in the classroom. We need to get them out into the field, applying what they are learning and inspiring them by engaging their passions. As one speaker at this weekend`s conference said, there`s a difference between `schooling`and getting an education. Let`s move away from providing too much `head-ucation`and towards inspiring passion and building practical skills through experiential learning. That is the kind of education that will shape the future leaders and change agents we need to develop.


  1. Yes, Miriam, My husband would have told you or his grandchildren exactly that.

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