Naija English Championship


by Muyiwa Gam-Ikon

Being Text of Speech Delivered by Mr. Andy Akhigbe, Founder of LearnPower Limited, at the 2018 Naija English Championship Prize Award Event held at St. Jude’s Private Schools, Festac, Lagos, on December 10, 2019.


A lot has been said about being successful, but what isn’t discussed often is HOW to be successful. We all know what success looks like. What most of us don’t get to know is HOW success happens. The What v. The How. The known Entity v. The Unknown Entity.

Through our journey in NaijaChamp we have a glimpse of how success happens. We lay no claim to knowing in all its entirety HOW to be successful, but we know a few things that could work with students, teachers, principals and school administrators and make them all a successful team. And based on our experience, I will be sharing some insights today.
To succeed academically and outside the academic environment mean that you have mastered two things:
1. Know Thy Self
2. Learn to Practice
I am a father to 3 teenage children and if there is anything I’d love to pass on to them it is these two ideas. It doesn’t mean that if you do these two things, success will automatically be yours. Not at all. You may not lead your class as the best student. You will also not end up being the laggard of the class. To do them is to assume the driver’s seat concerning how you want you life to be directed and become the truth teller, the lead character of your own story, or the director of your own movie.
What does it mean to Know Thy Self?
Know Thy Self
To Know Thy Self is to know who you are, what you stand for, what your strengths and weaknesses are. What makes you YOU. A lot of us get to know who we are quite late in life and many never get to know who they are before they die. That is the tragedy of living. We come struggling to be like others forgetting that we are solely one copy of ourselves in the universe – each with a unique finger print and DNA not shared with anyone else even if we are from the same parents. Our uniqueness screams out loud. There are no two persons with the same voice. We are that unique, but we must know what makes each of us unique.
To Know Thyself requires that from time to time we ask ourselves who we are and when we get that answer we take advantage of that uniqueness. I will give an example. Pastor Kumuyi for years was idling away in school. His father and teachers literally gave up on him. Before he got to Form 5, he knew himself. And since then he never looked back. What snapped? He suddenly realized he wasn’t destined to be a failure and that if he changes his attitude towards his academics he would no longer be the laggard everyone knows him to be. It took a personal decision. All the days of being flogged never changed him. It was him making up his mind to know who he truly is before the change happened.
Many of us in our Mid-fifties never had the privilege of having email and social media accounts. A lot is happening before our eyes; unprecedented changes. How well do we understand the spirit of the times? Many people have made a name by becoming influencers. Many have become adept at skills they never knew they had, or capable of displaying. The world is waiting for you to showcase your skill. The world is waiting to hear your voice. The world is waiting for you to discover yourself. It will only start when you take a good look at yourself and know yourself. Nobody can do it for you except you do it for yourself.
What does it mean to Learn to Practice?
Learn to Practice
To be good in anything, many underestimate the importance of deliberate and intentional Practice. It’s only through practice that you can gain Mastery that separates you from the multitudes. Repeated doing is the answer to knowing something deeply. This isn’t emphasized enough in schools and by teachers because most schools and teachers teach to the test. And most schools years are regulated such that a limited time is given to each subject and students are expected to move on to other important things within the school calendar.
There is the need to emphasize practice. Deliberate Practice. And practice doesn’t mean mindless repetition. Not at all. Practice is presenting a subject in varied forms until the barriers to learning that subject is completely deconstructed. Subjects should be taught with text, with video, with drawing, with project, with dancing and singing and in many varied forms as can excite a student to create both agency and ownership.
Deliberate Practice isn’t what is done in schools if we aren’t leveraging on the information and knowledge available online and on the internet and on social platforms. Rigour is lost as we still teach to the dictates of standardized testing. We should do more of contextual learning and critical thinking. Students need to be challenged with what they learn. They should be driven by questions and not answers. They should practice more and be taught to embrace multimedia in expressing themselves. They should be taught to collaborate and communicate their ideas and solve problems conjointly.
No matter the knowledge domain, students should never be restricted to rote learning. The demand of today forbids rote learning. Children have questions they need answers to. Our work as teachers and parents is to challenge them to do the work. Point them to website, books and platforms that will make them do the work and turn in their work to be assessed by their peers.
That way, we can be certain that we are raising children who will make the right choices in choosing those who will lead them tomorrow. That way we are rest assured that we can leave the stage and there would be peace after we exit.
School teachers and principals must bring themselves up to speed and ensure that they help their students get to practice deliberately. Teachers should acquaint themselves with the workings of the internet, social media and multimedia platforms so that kids can relate and learn to tell their stories through deliberate practice.
In closing, let’s ensure that we take a new look at what we do in our respective classes and schools as teachers and principals. A lot rests on our shoulders when we understand deeply  how to be successful and use these two strategies to get our students and our schools to be the bastion of knowledge we want them to be and raise students who can hold their own anywhere in the world.

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