Ofilispeaks: Our Dangerous Addiction to Intelligence

Sometime ago I stumbled across a primary school Mathematics word problem and it read:

Ada HAD 8 sisters. 6 of her 8 sisters ran away due to domestic abuse and violence and of those 6 that ran away, 3 of them died from malaria. How many sisters does Ada have left?

This is a trick question as you probably know and you have to read between the lines to get the answer. But, before I tell you the answer, let me tell you a story with a much simpler Math’s problem.

When I was in primary one, my parents were very worried. I had just completed my Mathematics exam and I failed the  exam. I knew something was up because the teacher had called for a special session with my parents and my Dad showed up. For my Dad to take time off of work to come to my school, it meant that the situation was very bad.

The teacher spoke about my exam failure and probably how I was the lowest in class. Apparently I had reversed my “plus” and “minus” signs in the Math’s test. By reversing the signs, I was guaranteed failure in that test. 

I remember the car ride from school back home, it was long (or at least it seemed long) and my Dad kept on talking about my poor grades and me needing to step up and all. I guess he was worried that his son would grow up not being intelligent. The irony of it all is that if the teacher actually re-reversed the minus and plus signs on my test papers, she would have found out that my answers were surprisingly correct. But I learned quickly that all that was irrelevant in our educational system. You either got it right or you got it wrong. There were no 50 shades of grey just one shade of black! And that shade of Black was that you were intelligent.

I look back on that day I laugh; not because the situation was funny but because in reality Primary 1 was too early for any parent to be worried about their child’s academic future. But this was Nigeria, a country were everyone’s Father or Mother came 1st in their respective classes or at least told stories about coming 1st. Nigeria, a country were having bad grades was basically the same thing as not giving your life to Christ or being a born again. If you had bad grades, you were looked at as deficient. It did not matter if you had the sweetest smile or voice, as long as you were not topping your class, something was wrong with you. Parents spend sleepless nights worrying over their son or daughter who is coming 10th in class instead of 1st. So worried that they will do every and anything to ensure their kids get to the top whether they are in Secondary school or Nursery school. From screaming to extra lessons to even fasting, nothing is off the table as they use whatever they can to feed their addiction to intelligence. It reminds me of psychologist and business executive Lac Su.

As a child Lac Su was an introvert and a perceived slow learner. Characteristics that did not go down well with his parents, who were particularly preoccupied with his lack of progress in school. Fixated on the idea that he was a slow learner and confusing his cautious approach to learning as a sign of incompetence or a lack of desire, his parents resorted to extreme discipline. From flogging to social isolation from any form of fun or friends. But no matter how hard Lac worked or obeyed their commands, his performance was just never good enough. His parents wanted intelligent but to them all they got was ‘stupid’. So when the mind games and beatings didn’t make him intelligent, his parents resorted to an ancient Chinese cure for stupidity.

So one Saturday morning when Lac Su was just in 3rd grade (the Nigerian equivalence of Primary 3), his parents sat him down at the family’s kitchen table and plopped a throbbing, round lump of pink flesh, the size of a softball onto a plate in front of him. It looked like a piece of raw meat, but that definitely could not be what was in his plate.

Turns out that the oblong hunk of flesh ( the Chinese cure for Stupidity) was actually an actual cow’s brain! His parents believed that by consuming the brain of a cow, their son would become smarter and eventually intelligent. So every weekend for the next 365 days, his parents made him eat the brain of a cow!

Sadly, this is not some sort of movie, it is something that actually happened. One that occurs in many variations across globe and in Nigeria. Parents that are willing to do anything to ensure that their kids are intelligent so that they can feed their own intelligence addiction. 

While nothing like this has happened in Nigeria to my knowledge, I am willing to bet that if the brain of a cow was slightly rumored to make a child smarter, there would be a shortage of cows in Nigeria, I even predict that cows would have become endangered or extinct in Nigeria by now! Because we have our own cow brains, they are simply replicated in the form of prayer, discipline and extra lessons!

Back then I would finish school (primary school) at 1 pm and then stay 2 extra hours for school lessons till 3 pm, only to come back home to a private tutor lesson teacher for another 2-3 hours. The only memory of television I had was during the weekend or from stories from classmates, which I told other classmates just so I maintained my coolness factor. And it did not help that my mum was a teacher, which meant that on the days our lesson teacher did not show up, she took their place and made us do exercises upon exercises. I still wonder why parents especially Nigerian parents make their kids go through all this hassle. Maybe it has to do with a critical flaw in our Nigerian educational system. One has to deal with the earlier question.

How many sister does Ada have left, if 6 of her 8 sisters ran away due to domestic abuse and violence and of those 6 that ran away, 3 of them died from malaria.

This article is PART 1 of an advanced excerpt of Ofili’s TEDxZumarock Talk: Our Dangerous Addiction To Intelligence. To listen to the full speech and to find out the answer to the question “How Many Sisters Does Ada Have Left?” visit www.TEDxZumaRock.com. The last part of the article will be published next week.
Ofili is an award winning anger management coach motivational speaker, author, success coach and cook entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on twitter , facebook or subscribe to his blog for more success TIPS!” To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here.

He has written two books, How Laziness Saved My Life and the best-selling How Stupidity Saved My Life, to find out how they both saved his life visit ofilispeaks.com or text STUPIDITY or LAZINESS to 33110 to immediately begin reading the ebook version on your Blackberry (Only available for MTN Blackberry Users).

85 Comments on Ofilispeaks: Our Dangerous Addiction to Intelligence
  • Funmi November 16, 2012 at 10:59 am


    • No Long Thing November 17, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      How long did that take you, 5 hours? Lol.. J/k

  • Chicanita November 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Nice one and it’s so true, every parent wants their child to be first in school but in reality everybody cannot come first.
    On the side, how many sisters does Ada have left? I just hurriedly read through the article to see the answer at the end, only to be dissappointed 🙁 I think she has 2 left

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Lol…am sorry. Chicanita. I will post the answer up next week Tuesday exclusively on bellanaija so be on the look out for that =D or you can come to the TEDx event on Saturday but its in Abuja =/

      • Chicanita November 16, 2012 at 12:32 pm

        I just went through the article again. She HAD 8 that means she has none left. Till Tuesday then

      • Tiki November 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        The question is flawed. the connotation of ‘left’ is not clear. Do you mean left at home (in which case it would be 2) or left alive (in which case it would be 5)?

        If you intended to write it that way, that story alone illustrates how the addiction to what a textbook perceives as intelligence (ie giving the answer the teacher wants to hear) is dangerous. Kudos for that!

    • Hot sumtyn November 17, 2012 at 2:59 am

      Yes you’re right. Ada has no sister left. She “HAD”…past tense not anymore.

      • Tiki November 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm

        Oh yeah, that too. totally missed that…plus it was in CAPS!

  • tai November 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    lol i like the way u never told us the answer to the question, instead you referred us to another website…guess what, i never clicked to find out the answer…lol i hate it when people do that. lol..lol

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:59 am

      emmmm the answer actually is not on the other site. The answer will be put on Bella next week Tuesday. The other site is where I will be speaking on Saturday.

      • …just saying November 20, 2012 at 11:40 am

        Doesn’ change the fact that you lied…”This is a trick question as you probably know and you have to read between the lines to get the answer. But, before I tell you the answer, let me tell you a story with a much simpler Math’s problem “. Meaning you would tell the answer after the story…Very dishonest

  • Ginika November 16, 2012 at 11:17 am

    She has 2left naaaa

    Good write up.

    • Ginika November 16, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Come to think of it, the general perception is that if you are considered ‘not intelligent’, then it is over for you; because you can’t get a job in Nigeria. It ties back to the lack of proper job creation; the saturation of the markets where you have millions of graduates churned out into our systems with only a few thousand jobs available. And if by mistake, your parents are not in top positions in the country, then you have to wrestle it out with the rest for a job.

      Thats my own 5kobo.

      • TobechiStyle November 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

        Ginika, your 5kobo made a good return on investment:). Well written.

      • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:03 pm

        lol…well said Ginika. This your 5 kobo…odikwa expensive o! =)

  • Chattyzee November 16, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Ada has 2 sisters left!


    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      hmmm…ok…we’ll see if that is the answer.

  • alyce November 16, 2012 at 11:37 am

    couldnt help but laugh out loud. nice write up

  • TobechiStyle November 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Very well written Ofili. If you read, “Rich Dad,Poor Dad”, (Which I am currently reviewing), you realize the difference a study in finance can make. Education is key, but making use of and maximizing one’s talents/skills adds the oopmh needed. Parents need not cling so much to the IQ so much.People excel in different things in different ways. Your avocation should become a vocation.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Your avocation should become your vocation! Well said!

  • Nomy November 16, 2012 at 11:42 am

    5 sisters left? I agree Ofili, we torture our kids hoping to make them intelligent, just a few months back my 4 year old nephew got into Nursery one (late i agree), sadly the little boy could still not write figure 1 after being at school for a few weeks preferring to watch TV and ride his bicycle, my Uncle beat him thoroughly to get him to write 1! He eventually did with a lot of tears and cajoling. Thats the country we live in and truth be told, am not sure i won’t do the same to my kids when i have them!

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Nomy…nooooooo…please do not beat your kids o biko. They will develop, everybody has their special time and pace of learning.

  • ArabianPrincess November 16, 2012 at 11:47 am

    From my opinion, Ada still has 5 sisters left. The fact that the other 3 ran away doesn’t make them any less her sisters. As for U, Uncle Ofili…well done ooooooooooooo

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

      Lol….thanks Aunty o. Nice analysis.

  • nomad November 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Looool. chick still got 5 sisters. So because the other chicks ran away, they’re not her sisters anymore, abi. My sister is on the other side of the world from me, is she still not my sister.

    Honestly I think we should concentrate less on 8-6 and concentrate more on teaching critical thinking and logic. Because spitting out memorized crap doesn’t improve your intellect.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Exactly. Our learning methods have to be seriously analyzed and looked at. Memorization can only get us so far.

      • Observer November 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        Memorization is the key to learning only in Nigeria, and other fellow backward countries. Here in the UK or even other developed countries, memorization is only an express route to failure. You will be heavily marked down for it. That’s why here people only read courses that their mental capacity can handle because you are on your own alone with your brain as far as that course is concerned.
        People go to school to read dancing or gymnastics which are also honourable and it’s because thats their flare and what their brain can cope with. There’s absolutely no room to cheat and memorize your way through studying Medicine, Engineering or IT

      • missy November 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

        the difference btwn how we are taught here and how others are taught in other countries stand out when we meet in classrooms outside of Nigeria. Only then do natural intelligence show. It therefore is no surprise that I did better in Univ(outside of NIg) than I did in Secondary School(in Nig).
        I am sure a lot of people will agree with me on this.

  • Derin November 16, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Ada has no sisters left, not a math question, she had 8 lost 3 to Malaria, we don’t know what happened to the others but she no longer has them….. I have mixed feelings about extra lessons and all, as a child I hated them, but I look back and I’m glad I had them.

    • Mz Socially Awkward… November 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

      Exactly the answer I had. About Ada, I mean… as for the requirement for kids to be smart… I dont know. If my parents hadn’t ridden me hard to exercise my own intellegence, I could have turned out just like my brother who still doesn’t have any single thought-out vocational plan for his life at the grand old age of 31 (on that front, I guess my parents knew their 3 daughters had bigger hurdles to surmount in the Nigerian society than their one son did). So I dont know if I necessarily agree with Ofili.

  • Jiddah November 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Nice write Mr. Ofili.
    And thank you. My sis acts like her 2 year old should not miss class, and I’m thinking why?
    what will one day of not learning to build number blocks do, at 2!, most kids in the rural areas are still running around in their under pants chasing the sun.

    Ada has 5 sisters left 🙂

  • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Different approach to the question Derin…thanks for the comment.

    I feel you on the extra lessons, I hated the English re-writes over and over again in primary school but it did help me (looking back) as a writer. I just hope we don’t over do it, because there is a threshold where the extra lessons do not have much of an impact.

    • Derin November 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      My education in Nigeria ended @ JS3, at that stage I had memorized my times table, the first 20 elements, had all these idiomatic expressions, and random quotes. High school (10th-12th grade) was a breeze. Heck, I got lazy and didn’t apply myself as much with all the TI-92 calculators, spell check…. I look at my lil bro, never really had any formal education in 9ja and his approach to everything is so different. He’s a smart kid, but his reserve capacity is way higher. Like you said, its all about balance. I’m super traditional, I say do what works for the child, if they need to be nudged a bit hard, then I’d gladly do so 🙂

      • okechukwu ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm

        I feel ya.

  • phantom November 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Okechukwu, this phenomenon is not exclusive to Nigeria. Surely, you’ve heard of the tiger mums in Asia. The way i see it, parents need to know their kids well as there’s no one ultimate way of raising kids. Personally, i needed all the scolding and extra lessons to shape up as i simply did not like book work. Am i awfully intelligent for all the beatings? well, thats debatable but one thing’s sure: i’m glad i got an education because although it’s not the key to fulfilment, the alternative’s worse.

    By the way, Ada has no sisters left.

  • D Pretty November 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I think the answer is None because you used the word HAD..I hope am right.lol

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm

      Interesting catch. Will let you know.

  • jumy November 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Parents generally have huge expectations from their offspring and it is quite a worldwide thing. I believe it is because they need validation for the money spent on you while they are still responsible for your welfare or they need to have something to say when talking among friends about their children. I have heard stories about kids running from home to study the course they desire or parents refusing to pay their wards tuition fees for a course of study they do not want. I read someplace the popular TUNDE KELANI was to become a pharmacist but ended up in a film school in the uk. Imagine what would become of him if he hadn’t followed his dream. The list is endless! Many parents do not know their wards enough to support them through their strength or weakness which could bring a lifetime of struggle to a prospective adulthood. Know thyself – Socrates

  • I.A November 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    I think Ada has 5 sisters left because the other 3 remain her sisters whether or not they have run away.

    On the extra lessons – I agree that we Nigerians have the tendency to overdo it. However as a mother of three, I have to say that this extra lesson phenomenon is not peculiar to the Nigerian. I live in the UK and my oldest daughter (although educated in a private school) had to take extra lessons for two hours on Saturdays, for a year, to prepare for her 11+ exams – to get into a good Secondary School. Those classes were run by a Jewish Woman and attended by students from a range of ethnic groups – Whites, Asians, and Africans.
    Why? The world of employment is a competitive place. Parents need to do everything they can to ensure that their child is one step ahead of the rest – the best grades, the best schools (for which they are long waiting lists and several levels of tests/interviews the children are expected to pass), even now the longest list of extra-curricular activities. But there is only so much that you can learn in school, so the extra knowledge and additional skills have to be acquired outside school. The key, in my humble opinion, is to understand your child and to understand what their threshold is and when they have reached it, because, as Mr O says, if you push them over it, all your efforts will become counterproductive.

  • Dupe November 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Hence, Ada as 5 Sisters left. 🙂

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Dupe…thanks Jare for breaking it down.

  • Okechukwu Ofili November 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    @phantom the Lac Su story above was written as a direct response to the Tiger Mum book. See the link here http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-20/opinion/lac.su.tiger.mother.scars_1_parenting-stupidity-daughters?_s=PM:OPINION that’s what I referenced in this article.

  • olah November 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    The problem with the secondary and primary school system is the competitive nature the system builds in students in the area of academics, this is not helpful at all. i remember then if my friend tells me to explain something to her i will do it shabbily so she does not “pass me”loooolllllll. There should not be anything like 1st or 2nd, your report card should just show your grades shikena. Students at this level are suppose to learn from one another.

  • Missy November 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    My question is why such a question in a primary school maths book? They could have said something about bottles or sweets or something. but abuse, violence and death?

  • funsho owode oyelaja November 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm


  • Aibee November 16, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    In my opinion, the problem is not our fixation with intelligence, the problem is our fixation with ‘academic/book’ intelligence. Here’s why…
    I attended primary school from 8am – 1pm, school lessons from 2pm – 4pm and came home just in time for the Children’s belt on NTA/DBN. I watched all the cartoons on TV (except for Power Rangers, Voltron, Ninja Turtles etc. which my grandma refused to allow us watch because they were too violent!!!). I wasn’t at the top of my class because the only subjects I passed were English Language, Grammar, Verbal Aptitude, and Social Studies. I failed Maths, Quantitative Reasoning, Arts etc. I still have horror stories of being caned because I didn’t know the “times-table”. It wasn’t until I got into Secondary School before I got the logic of that times-table thingy. Now all a savvy teacher had to do was translate the times table into simple English by saying add the same figure or something like that, but no, I got caned for not knowing how to cram 6 times 1, 6, 6 times 2, 12 . . . My parents weren’t the type to say I was always 1st but they still encouraged me to do better. I didn’t have any extra classes till Primary 6 when I had to prepare for the National Common Entrance which I aced and got into my school of 1st choice. My parents knew I loved reading so they bought me all the books they could afford and by the time I got into Secondary School, I’d read most of the books in the PaceSetters Series. In secondary school, I didn’t attend extra lessons, not even the long-holiday classes and I still did well at school. Well enough to make As in JSCE and run to science class to study medicine. I needed to have extra lessons in Physics, Chemistry and Maths. The extra lessons only helped me score 51-55 over hundred. By the end of SS1, 3rd term, my dad said I must cross to Art class. I begged and promised to study harder but he said to me “I know all my children and I know you are not the type to play. If your best efforts could only yield this kind of result, then it’s time to try something else”. I crossed to Art Class in SS2 and used the 1st week after resumption to copy out the SS1 notes for Government, History, and Literature etc. As I copied the notes, I read them and by the end of that 1st term, I was among the top 5 in my class. By 2nd term, I got into the top 3 and maintained that position till I finished, passing my WAEC and JAMB in one sitting and going on to study Law and graduating with a 2.1.

    What’s the point of this my whole story? Simple, Children need to learn and at the same time play. They all can’t be doctors, engineers, lawyers etc. Parents need to have an in-depth knowledge of their children, their strengths and weaknesses, areas of interest etc. and then nurture those gifts. Lovingly nudge your children into finding their true talents and help them to maximize their gifts. If you know your child well enough, then you’ll know that sometimes when he fails a subject, it’s not always because of a lack of overall intelligence. It could simply be that the child’s gifts lie elsewhere. We have musicians, dancers, actors, comedians, footballers etc. who are more productive individuals than they would have been in they were constrained to be doctors, lawyers etc. Your child is intelligent, you just need to discover where his intelligence lies.

    • Lola November 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Your Dad is super! God bless him for taking out time to ‘know’ his children and prod them to what is best for them. I’m tking that route with my children, trying to achieve a good balance of work and play!

    • okechukwu ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      Wow Aibee Wow…that is very powerful and revealing story you told. Happy for your Dad in seeing your strength. Thanks for sharing.

  • lazioman November 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    All the fans of TED unite!…great article Ofili!


    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      THanks Lazioman =) thanks

  • fragile November 16, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Mumsie is a teacher, and despite the fact I was one of the smartest kids in my Class, I still had all the private lessons plus school lessons plus mumsies lessons lol. But I had no problems with that @ all. Parents will do anything and I mean anything for their kids to be intelligent. An older friend of mine told me of how his mum made him swallow raw Chicken heart abi na gizzard cuz she believed it will make him Smart. Maybe she was right cuz he turned out so. Looooooooool

    • okechukwu ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm

      WOW. I you joking? She seriously made him eat raw chicken…yikes!

  • Lizzie November 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Phantom… those extra lessons help kids who cannot pick up fast. If you let the kids learn at their own pace, some of them might never learn. Education is hard work even for the intelligent kids. consistency is important too. i wouldn’t like a doctor who cannot remember standard procedure(just because he grew up in a laid back world) operate on me or anybody i know. children are to be directed and corrected, if they knew it all, they wouldn’t need to grow up. The one i do not support is forcing a child to become what you wish him/her to be against his/her wish. Always give them the freedom to choose what comes easy for them, because, that way they will prosper.

  • S! November 16, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    How many “Sister”? One sister.
    Btw, if intelligence is so overrated, as you have insinuated, why are you testing ours?

    • okechukwu ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:28 pm

      lol…no idea why i am. Maybe it has to do with the answer =)

  • Doks November 16, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I will attempt to use English to answer your Maths problem.
    The promplem started with Ada HAD 8 sisters. THe word HAD was empasized in caps so that means she nolonger has any sisters. Therefore your problem is incomplete as you only accounted for 6/8 of Ada’s sisters. Answer – Ada has No sisters left judging from the grammatical interpretation of the first sentence in the problem. Nevertheless, please account for the other 2 sisters that didnt run away…

    • okechukwu ofili November 16, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      Very very smart Doks, you caught something interesting in the question.

      • Ginika November 20, 2012 at 8:44 am

        Yes… because the 3 sisters never came back!!!

  • Doks November 16, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    NEvrerthe less, if this were an exam in Naija, I would say Ada has 5 sisters left coz only 3/8 died

  • ij November 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    All was well until my dad mistakenly heard that my Ghanaian school teacher was looking for a place to live with his wife , so daddy to the rescue, he invited Mr and Mrs Deha to live in our boys quarters rent free in exchange for extra lessons, before i knew it popsi had called carpenter to build bench and table for the lesson.
    So i went to school with them , break time was lunch time with the Dehas (proper food oh none of that biscuit and caprisun rubbish), came home with them, then met them again in the evening for my daily dose of extra lessons.The only escape from Mr Deha was when we went for catechism class on Saturday and when they went for their 7th day Adventist service.
    Just mention boredom to my daddy and he will ask you if you have read all the encyclopedia Britannica in the bookshelf , that shut us up sharply.
    Well can’t complain now because thanks to my dad, Mr Deha gave me a solid foundation in Maths .
    Children need all the help they can get because it is very competitive out there right now , no point knowing all the names of the Ben10 aliens if you don’t know 5×7

  • mimi November 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    My teachers thought i was slow and not quite good in math only for me to move to England where they discovered that i was mildly dyslexic i tranposed numbers that is why i always added/subtracted/multiplied/divided up wrong!

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      #gbam! Thanks Mimi o! There are so many people that don’t get that option in life, cause they get stuck in the Nigerian monochromatic educational system #sad

  • Socrates November 17, 2012 at 12:07 am

    From a practical point of view, my personal experience and conversations with friends have shown me that extra lessons help a lot, if only for science students. The fact that I was introduced to dy/dx in JSS3 made it very easy to pass the same questions when I crossed over to the U.S for university.
    Matter of fact,I did not have to tax my brain seriously until graduate school. That,the attendant confidence and prestige I enjoyed on campus and the hard work ethic it engendered in me makes me support extra lessons for my kids if needed. However,they should not be over done…
    Bottom line, kids should be encouraged to be outstanding in any field of study they choose. Extra lessons might just do the trick.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      But dy/dx was taught in normal classes in Senior Secondary school also…it would still have prepped you for University Education.

      • Poshla November 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm

        @ Ofili : You’re so wrong! dy/dx (calculus) was only taught in Further Maths class, and Further Maths was an optional subject. So for those who took only general maths in Senior Secondary, they didn’t get to do dy/dx as it (calculus) wasn’t in their syllabus

  • Ada di ora November 17, 2012 at 4:11 am

    5 sisters, since when did sisters running away from home, mean they no longer exist.
    Nice post Ofili!

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Lol…but you never know. The question said HAD =/

      • Blessmyheart November 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

        the question said she HAD 8 sisters. It means she no longer has 8 sisters but not necessarily that she doesnt have any. She does not have 8 sisters anymore, she could still have 5 sisters. I go with 5 sha.

  • feisty chic November 17, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I think parents need to find out what their kids are passionate about and push them towards it. Also, the Nigerian education system should stop the use of positions in class work as it makes some of the kids give up hope. When I was younger, because I was intelligent it was taboo for me to be below the first 3. Even coming first was celebrated with ‘lets do that next term’. I remember times I cried when I changed schools cos of my dad’s numerous transfers and I didn’t come in the range of the first 5. Looking back on all that, I don’t think such things are important. There are learning steps for children and all parents need to confirm are if their kids are developing as they should or if they need help. Some kids might have learning disabilities like developmental dyslexia, dysphasia/Aphasia, dsycalculia, Dysgraphia and a host more. Caning such a child and killing his/her social life with a multitude of lessons will not make them go away.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Feisty chick…thank you o! You make a good point that I did not even think about. We really need to abolish the position system. It puts too much pressure on people and I don’t really see the benefits.

  • Obaji chinwe November 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

    She had 2 sistas left

  • ada November 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Nice write up ofili, i had extra lessons too and even though try as my parents may, i still failed maths, it was only when i got into arts class i began to excel, so at the end of the day its all about knowing where your children’s gifts lie and allowing them to excel, and whatever you do as a parent never ever compare your child to someone else’s, that is one thing i disliked my mum for doing. Then as for how many sisters ada has left, its not a riddle, it happens to be a maths question, so i think its 5, but hey i never was good at maths.lol

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      5 is logically correct.

  • well done BN November 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    So the essence of this article is ???????allow ur child to do whatever he/she want,blcas Ofili who was dull in his latter years has now became successful and is been known all over the country? A lesson for others to emulate?

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      I doubt that was the essence of the article. But everyone sees things and interprets them differently. So if that is your interpretation…no yawa =)

  • Hengish November 17, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Ofili,

    Will the TED event be posted on the TED Talks website?

    Also Ada “HAD” sisters which is past tense.

    It could be easy to say she has no more sisters however she could now have another/more sisters greater than 8, the text did not say “Ada had ONLY 8 sisters” the answer could be zero or a number greater than 5.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      The talks will be posted online in about 2 weeks time. I will keep you updated.

  • iamfascinating November 18, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Lol. one day, maths will love me.

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Math’s loves you more than you know. =)

  • ugo November 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Okey, if your parents had not put you through the stress due their “addiction to intelligence”, would you have turned out better than you are?..All parents/guardians have a responsibility to bring up their kids in a way that would enable them to live in a competitive world.its survival of the fittest .And without all the drilling maybe Lac su and your self might not have discovered your true selves.

    the answer to the question depends the usage of the “HAD”, if ADA were dead then 5 would be the logical answer,if she were alive then the answer is either 0(if all her sisters were dead) or 5 (if only 3 were dead).Based on the info given 5 would be a more logically correct answer

    • Okechukwu Ofili November 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Ugo…are you telling me that eating Cow’s brain helped Lac Su? I think not. He said despite all the beating it did not make him better. I think we need to temper down the beatings and discipline.

      • Purpleicious Babe November 22, 2012 at 3:08 pm

        loool…. Poor Lac Su.. ahahahahah…

        ok, currently studying Mandarin and my Chinese language teacher told us Chinese people believe in eating fish brains because it is believed it makes people smart as sea creatures are SMART.(I wanted to butt in, they are so smart yet they get caught everyday and eaten by humans)? But that not the point, that their view. lol. xxx and am not insinuating that this is the case in Lac SU lol..

        I agree with the article aside from comparing it to giving your life to Christ or being born again “Nigeria, a country were having bad grades was basically the same thing as not giving your life to Christ or being a born again”. Really?? *blanks face*. I don’t understand the comparison and why it is so.
        I guess you were trying to highlight the intensity of the situation but still the comparison is silly. Not every intelligent parent whatever “intelligence means” are Christians or fanatics.. thot it was a silly silly comparison ( too many points to stress as to why I think it silly)… Aside from that I agreed with the points.

        Pls dont get me started on my educational journey in NIGERIA. The system does not equip some of us at all… Kia, i hated MATHS but only when we migrated that I knew and believed it was a not a curse lol(am kidding). Besides, I only needed a SANE teacher that understood people do have learning difficulties and approaching a different method of teaching is way better than yelling, cursing/ ponda beating the child (but it took them time to come to this level). In fact, flogging or beating the child cos of their grades I believe instills in fear rather than help(what happened to communication?).

        Btw way Intelligence to me does not ONLY mean the ability to solve maths or be good at a particular any subjects. It means deeper stuff. Some people cant solve maths or but boy they can make good beats sound soo cool. If i go by the definition of intelligence on the web, it is deeper than some academic requirements.


  • Ginika November 20, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Ofili… you are a star! You responded to almost everyone’s question. I think I like you.

    Oya…. it is tuesday, where is the answer?

  • Purpleicious Babe November 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Oh yeah, I also thought what a messed up qs… why would anyone use this as a form of illustration…. such sensitive information as a maths subject… how sad and unfair… yeah. But i later read it on the part 2. cool


  • Tayo March 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Growing up, I had exactly the same kind of problem and stigma described here and for years I thought I was really unsmart and actually academically deficient in some way. It wasn’t until years later after a woeful failure and setback that I began learning at my own pace and was amazed how much my brain was absorbing. The transformation was incredible…like a sponge my brain soaked up every knowledge and information taught & my research and IQ acumen became outstanding. By the time I moved to Europe for my undergrad and postgrad degrees I had become a smart ass phenomena topping exams and classes with some measure of ease.

    How did this happen? I don’t have a specific answer but it was a lot of self discovery learning at my own pace or rather in an environment I had conditioned perfect for my own development without any parental pressure exerted. Growing up, my siblings and I changed schools a lot owing to different circumstances from my parents job career to housing relocations, from private to public schools all over Nigeria (north to south). These constant changes affected my brain development because my young mind had to first assimilate and cope with the changes. By the time I was almost getting my mind back together, we moved again. The cultural shock each time and strange new environment made me incapable and my teachers dubbed me average and weak academically even with all the home lesson teachers. And the university system in Nigeria did not help either especially studying a course my parents chose and wanted for me.

    Midway, I moved in with my grandparents and my Godmother began to mentor, motivate and challenge me. Learning at my pace spiralled me so fast that I began to feel intelligent. I overcame my fear for exams and that was the transformation point. Then studying in Europe something I always dreamed of with the help of the supportive faculty was explosive. Not everyone will have the opportunities I had but children who are perceived as slow learners need special care and attention to work in their own best way and the role for parents is to help them find just that right pace. Today I’ve worked in countries, travelled and earn way much higher than classmates in school who were the smartest and always coming first. They are not doing badly either but I’ve grown to excel just as much, or even better than I ever would have thought a decade ago.

    Every child is special and learns in a unique way… It just takes a smart ass teacher or learning environment to recognise and help figure it out; and parents do not need to put in all that self – imposed pressure.

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