Leave your schooling behind; reach for solutions beyond your bubble

Saturday February 04 2023
University students.

University students on the campus of the Bordeaux-Montaigne University. Schooling that does not take you out of your bubble will leave you illiterate no matter your many degrees. PHOTO | THIBAUD MORITZ | AFP


My son met his wife while they were both students at the university, where both studied information and communications technology. While there, they both competed for the Mr and Miss University Pageant and won. I guess they did not get the memo that it was a one-year pageant and so they just went on and today they have been married for two years. They are both brilliant people and have great people skills.

In those few sentences I have highlighted their similarities. Now let us look at the other side of the coin.

She is Indian while he’s Nigerian. These are two extremely different backgrounds with two very rich cultures which they showcase in their YouTube Channel — From Chennai to Lagos. When they were about to get married, a lot of people on both sides wondered how or whether such a union would work out.


They recently returned from a holiday to Chennai in the southern part of India and the man that went was totally different from the one that came back. What had happened?

He realised a truth that many have not yet embraced: No matter how schooled you are, without exposure you will be illiterate in many things. Yes, the lack of exposure will make illiterates out of the schooled. Schooling is not the cure for illiteracy. Exposure is. This is probably why Mark Twain said that we should not allow our schooling to interfere with our education.


My son said, “Everything was different to me, but here in Chennai — it was normal. What I perceived as ‘normal’ in a lot of cases would have been a very unpopular opinion there. My experience there left me with a lesson I’ll hold on to forever, which is — the world is much bigger than I perceive it to be, and in the grand scheme of things, my perspective is a minority.”

Well-schooled people become racists and tribal bigots when they have a total disregard for the cultures and ways of others. They have lived in the bubble of their own cultures all their lives and even their schooling is within the context of their bubble and so anything that does not conform to their bubble is immediately discarded as the wrong way.

Exposure is king

Organisations will perform better if their ivy league-trained leaders added some education to their schooling. The illiterate of yesteryear was the unschooled, but the illiterate of today is the unexposed and the person who is boxed into a bubble where there is no room for options that are not from the same bubble. The greatness of leadership is often impaired by the voice of the bubble in which you reside.

Ultimately our success in this world is going to be more hinged on our education than on our schooling. It is going to be hinged on how well we have understood that there is a world beyond our bubble and until we embrace this world, our view of the world and the solutions we will be able to generate will be myopic because they have been flavoured by the bubbles we reside in.

Schooling that does not take you out of your bubble will leave you illiterate no matter your many degrees.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of the Street University - [email protected]