The other on our drive to school my 8 year old son tells me he has been selected to play a lead role as Tom Sawyer in a school play. After the fist bumping and the congratulatory chest puffery, I’m like Tom Sawyer?! WTF?! I know my son is a yellow bone but Tom Sawyer? Dont worry I said it all in my head…at least I think so. I’m like why are schools still teaching this book? I read Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn when I was in school donkey years ago. I don’t remember much about it but I do recall that it referred to African Americans as niggers.
Dad! My son jolts me out of my momentary daze. He gives me that look like I owe him something. We have this ritual that when he does something great I take the credit for it as his dad. He is only great because of me, ofcourse. So reluctantly I shout “who’s your daddy?!” And he shouts back “You are!” We do this three more times and by then he needs to jump off as we are at school. I give him an even tighter hug and whisper congrats and that I am proud of him, in his ear.
As I drive off, I relapse into my earlier daze and engage auto pilot drive. Never mind the racial epithets in Mark Twains literature, I just don’t get how that literature is relevant today. Don’t get me wrong great literature should never date, but I am not sure it should be taught to 8 year olds in 2017. I think when you are a fine arts or literature scholar in university then you may study this literature as scholar.
Surely, kids in South Africa should be reading literature that is not only contextually relevant to them but also relevant to the time they live in. My son reads to me every morning in the car on the way to school. I would say 95% of the school books he is reading are of characters that don’t look like him. They don’t have names like his. Worse they don’t play on Xbox and iPads like he does. I have a problem on two fronts, the books are culturally biased and worse they are not current. The teachers will argue that they are teaching kids how to read and the words are the most important thing in these books. I beg to differ, I think context is everything. If I give you ten words and ask you to recite them back without looking at them, you will on average remember 5-7 of those words. If on the other hand I give you 15 words but create a context for those words, you will remember all of them. Context is everything.
Fired up I wanted to march back to my son’s excessively expensive private school and demand that they do a play on Shaka Zulu if they must, but I would prefer they do one on; Elon Musk, Mbeki, Tutu, Noah, Theron, Barnard, Gordimer, Luthuli, Shuttleworth, Dhlomo, Sono, Fassi, Makeba and Masekela. But instead I firmly tucked my tail between my legs and disengaged auto pilot by switching the dial on a new heading of 947 and increased the cruising speed to 100kpm.
Next day my son had a Zulu spelling test. So as tradition when he has any spelling test I quiz him in the morning on our drive to school. As usual he cruises through it. And just incase he or you have forgotten I AM HIS DADDY!
You see spelling is one thing. I say the word and he spells it. I then asked him to say the word and spell it. That’s where the cookie crumbled and crumbled it did. He actually sounded like a Tom Sawyer trying to speak Zulu! It was shocking, I was embarrassed. Yes, I have raised a white child. I am no different than Angelina Jolie? I found myself questioning who is this kid that can’t pronounce isigqoko, who is this kid’s DADDY?
The Greeks, Afrikaners, Jews, Portuguese and Italians have schools that are dedicated to their language. Most kids go to normal school during the day and after school they go to language schools. We need vernacular schools. Why I hear you ask if English is the medium of business communication in SA? Language is not just about communication it is about culture, literature, heritage and nuance. You can see this when you try to do a direct translation from Zulu to English. I just think you are richer as a person when you know more than one language.
I am keen to set up vernacular private after schools. The schools will teach, Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Tswana, Venda and Shangaan, ok maybe even Pedi. Who is with me for creating a competitor to Curro schools?! We won’t have race issues as all races will be welcome.
Here are some numbers to entice you;
Curros Profit climbed to R81m in the six months ended June 30 2016 from R51m a year earlier, Curro said. Revenue increased 24% to R705m, while earnings per share rose 51% to R0.22. The stock rose 1.4% to R42.69
Please post your comments below and let’s Alt Shift. We can create jobs and profits at the same time.
R.I.P to my Aunt Gcina. You will be missed and as a teacher I dedicate this blog to you.