A man turned the corner and saw two queues ahead of him; one queue stretched for kilometres while the other queue had one person in it. A man in the long queue explained that his one was for men who were nagged by their wife and the other was for those who were not nagged by their wife
By TIM MIDDLETON
The traveller was intrigued by this situation so he approached the solitary man and he asked him why he was in this queue. “I don’t know,” he said, “My wife told me to come here!”
We live in the world of “Instant Gratification”, if we are in any doubt about that, consider how we handle queues. None of us likes to wait in queues. We see a queue and our heart sinks; we sit in a queue and our spirit slumps. Some of us have reached the stage where we see a queue and we run in the opposite direction. At other times, if we see a queue we think we must join it, even if we do not know what it is for. We do not do queues well.
We think we can barge into the front; we think we can overtake a long line of cars and other drivers will just have to let us in if a car comes in the opposite direction.
Human nature seems to say we must do what we can to get round queues, be it taxi drivers or senior pupils in the tuckshop queue! We do not do queues well!
The reality, though, is that in Zimbabwe we are faced by queues all over the place, hundreds of them. We have to queue for fuel, bread, money, tills and tolls.
The good thing about queues is that they underline the value of what is to be gained at the front of it. The bad thing, though, is that if we are in the wrong, queue, it is a total waste of time.
Have we ever sat in the petrol queue thinking that it is for diesel? It is crucial that we get in the right queue. The exact same principle applies in education and in life.
We need to make sure we are in the right Q. There are Qs that we need to be in and there are Qs that are not what we think they are.
The first Q we must join is that of quality. “A little well done” says a lot more than “a lot poorly done”. It is quality that counts. How we approach our work is more important than the result of our work. The quality of our life is more important than the qualifications in our life. A person with the qualities of positivity, dignity, integrity, humility, simplicity, vitality, individuality, creativity will go far. Quality will come in the all-round education, for the all-round child. We want such qualities that only such an education provides.
We must get in the queue for quality. If we simply wait for qualifications, we are in the wrong queue. We must not be deceived. Quality is what people want, not qualifications. How many parents put down their Grade Seven results on their CV? Every parent wants the best for their child and the best comes in quality. Qualifications are useful, but certainly not essential. A speaker recently said: “IQ gets you a job: EQ gets you promoted.” If we judge a school by league tables, based on results, we are in the wrong queue; we are in the wrong place.
The second Q we must join is that of questioning, not of quarrelling. It is not just good for children to ask questions; it is critical for them to do so, as we endeavour to develop critical thinking in them. When children ask questions, they are looking for solutions. They must be allowed and encouraged to ask questions, not to be told the answers, but to be trained to find the answers themselves — they need to learn to ask the right questions. A questioning mind is not a negative or rebellious mind — it is active, positive, energetic. The sad fact is that children are, in fact, very good at asking questions (from the age of two to four), but we discourage them from doing so to the extent they give up.
In contrast, too many people are in the queue for quarrelling. They, though, are not looking for solutions; they are simply looking for victories.
Quarrelling leads to division; it is all about one’s own interest, one’s own ego, one’s own position. People who quarrel are like those who demand to be let in to the queue; they must have their own way. Quarrelling does not help; questioning does.
Queues can bring out the best and the worst in people. It is absolutely crucial that we get in the right queue, so that the best in us comes out, not the worst. We must all make sure we are all standing in the queues of quality and questioning, not qualifications or quarrelling. Good things come to those who wait, especially if we are in the right Q — and we do not need our wife to tell us that!
Tim Middleton is the executive director of the Association of Trust Schools [ATS]. The views expressed in this article, however, are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of the ATS.