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Laying the Foundation for Leaders of Tomorrow through Families and Education of Today

While leadership might seem to some as a far-fetched concept, it is actually a 21st century skill that we must recognise and apply to all areas of our development as human beings and members of our various communities.
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The recent elections in Nigeria have been very revealing of the influence of the quality of human capital in nation building. With a population of over 200 million people in Nigeria, there is great potential in our numbers. However, I wonder if, in spite of the sentiment that we may have around some of our leaders today, we can be confident that the ones we are preparing for the future do not make the same mistakes (or even worse) to ensure that our systems work for the benefit of all.

While leadership might seem to some as a far-fetched concept, it is actually a 21st century skill that we must recognise and apply to all areas of our development as human beings and members of our various communities. What role do we all have to play in ensuring that we ourselves are responsible, accountable, respectful and loving to one another? If we take some time to reflect deeply, can we sincerely say that we are the leaders that we want to see? Are our children exhibiting leadership qualities that we want to see in our future? Leadership is not a far-fetched concept, neither is it a skill that should be left for a specific group of people or a specific period of time in one’s life.

Our social systems today are far more complex than they have ever been. While the rapid pace of living and the development of the world is very exciting, we need to ensure that the right leadership values are exhibited through our interactions with our own selves, our families and our communities, which are becoming increasingly fragmented with the advent of social media. If indeed, by the law of averages, we become what we see and interact with the most frequently, we need to constantly question the quality of our engagements and the values that we learn and live by. As adults, there is increasingly a need for self-reflection and self-moderation to ensure that we filter all the various environmental concepts that we are exposed to, in order to understand and implement a response.

For children, the situation is critical. It is quite exciting to observe the developmental stages in children, right from when they are born to when they babble their first words and take their first steps. From birth to adulthood, human beings inevitably evolve both physically and mentally. While it is heart-warming to appreciate various stages of development passively, it is important to ensure that from the early or formative years (ages 0 to about 8), we get childhood development right, such that our children experience that significant beginning needed to lay a solid foundation for their continued growth into pre-teens, teenagers and finally, adults. This is something that some parents and educators may take for granted, but if we take a careful look at our environment and the people around us, we may observe certain behaviours in adults, which may be attributable to a weak foundation during their early years and their values systems later in life. While we cannot dispute genetics, personalities and some environmental factors being key influencers on behaviour and character, it is important to appreciate that there is a critical role to play as leaders in our families and education systems.

On the subject of education delivery, we may tend to focus on academics alone, especially for those who went through the “old school” authoritarian methods of teaching, which was typically instruction-based and lacking in social interaction and some forms of cognitive development. However in order to become successful and effective adults, we cannot rely on academics alone, as there are many soft skills, which need to be covered so as to tackle the realities of the world and ensure that experiences are handled and challenges are tackled with good character.

While children are infants (0 – 2years), they are curious and explore their environment. This is the stage during which they begin to talk, repeat words they hear and actions they see. They are really just developing a “sense of self”. From 3 years old, they start to develop their own character, become more inquisitive and begin to form their own opinions. So it is important that the adults around them are mindful of what they do and say because these will be repeated and when opinions begin to form, we need to ensure that this process is well guided.

Taking things to reality, many parents may not have the time or the understanding of this concept of critical skills and a sense of leadership and values very much required to build good character. On the other hand, the socio-economic strain on the cost of living these days could make it very difficult to find the time to spend with children or money to send them to good schools. This, combined with the limit on affordable quality education is a recipe for disaster in all levels of the society.

However, we are nearing the point at which we need to go back to the drawing board and do a check on ourselves to ensure that the children around us are learning the right things at home and school. Are we covering the five areas of childhood development; physical, intellectual, language, and emotional and social needs? Children cannot get all these from home, nor can they get them all from school. Hence, collaboration is imperative, especially in this day and age where children seem to be getting smarter and smarter due to the access that they now have to information.

Getting the foundation right through the structure of stable home and school environments will provide lifelong benefits to the success of the children during their early years and allow them to reach their full potential. We should all bear this in mind if we want a positive outlook on our future.


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Folaranmi Ajayi
5 months ago

Are we covering the five areas of childhood development? This is deep insights and the million dollar question is one we should be asking. like Maxwell said and I reiterate, everything rise and falls on leadership. Are we covering the five areas of childhood development? It is indeed distressing that we are not focusing on the real issues. Many thanks for giving us this school of thought. kabash!

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