It is absolutely impossible to talk about academic excellence without considering first, the term ‘Education‘ which presupposes academic excellence.
According to the New international Webster’s comprehensive dictionary of the English language, Encyclopedia edition 2013,page 401. Education is the systematic development and cultivation of natural powers by inculcation. It is also instructions and trainings carried out in an institution of learning as well as knowledge and skills resulting from such instructions.
A critical evaluation of the above definition reveals two systems of education vide:formal and informal systems of education. It is also discoverable from the above definition that education refers not only to the manner and procedure of acquisition of knowledge but also to the knowledge so acquired. However, for the purpose of this work, I shall refer preponderantly to the formal system as it is more germane to the Discourse on academicism and scholasticism.
Definition of terms.
The new international Webster’s comprehensive dictionary of the English language, encyclopedia edition, 2013 page 8 defines the term ‘academic‘ in its noun form as a college or university or a member of a society while in its adjectival form, it pertains to the exercise in institutions of learning. The webster’s dictionary on page 442 defines the word ‘excel‘ as to go beyond or above; out do; surpass (another or others) and defines ‘excellence’ as the possession of eminently good qualities, great merit, virtue and goodness as well as superior traits.
The Oxford advanced dictionary 6th edition, 2010 page 506 defines the term ‘excellence’ as the quality of being extremely good in something.
From the above definition of terms, it is easily conceivable that academic excellence refers to an academic’s ability to make an unparalleled phenomenally good performance in his intellectual pursuits. The major deficiency in the both definition is that it only considers academic excellence in terms of good grades in exams. But in reality, it is more than that. it is rather, the maximum development of your intellectual capacities and skills in service of humanity. Yes it is for the service of humanity.
The core essence of education is to humanize human beings. Education is not merely teaching and increasing cognition. It is an attitude. Animals need no education, they are just trained to understand human willingness they just need human control to behave. They only need human expression of emotion to obey him. This makes the difference between humans who need education for the control of their emotions, soul-thought, willingness and the others who are not under control but knows what to do, and how to do it. (Fernandes Aning 2006)
In the dictum of Napoleon Hill he stated that “An educated man is that man who has learned how to get everything he needs without violating the rights of his fellow man”
Academic excellence would subsume those who learn by what is called ‘root method’ if its definition were limited to excellent grade-making, it also subsumes those who secure good grades through illegitimate means- sorting. Academic excellence has to do with one’s ability to study, properly assimilate, coherently internalize, effectively conceptualize that which has been perused.
THE CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE.
I deliberately decided to focus more on the psychosocial factors that depredate the pursuit of academic excellence.
1. –level of stress: the definition of stress varies according to the model utilized, but in all these models, stress is conceptualized as something that is negative and undesirable (McNamara, 2001). However, the most widely accepted definition of stress is one given by (Lazarus and Folkman 1984) thus: “….A particular relationship between the person taxing or exceeding his or her resources and endangering his or her wellbeing“.
Stress is a challenge to academic excellence where there is a desire to do well in one’s intellectual pursuit coupled with peer pressure to socialize with one’s friends so as to be accepted by them.
2. Perfectionistic behaviors: Research has identified a relationship between high achieving students and perfectionism. Perfectionism is conceptualized as having ‘lofty’ unattainable goals coupled with perpetual self-criticism (flett & Hewitt, 2002). some researchers such as (frost & colleagues 1990) and (Hewitt and flett 1991) Have the view that perfectionism can be both adaptive and maladaptive, depending on its form and context. Individuals who display adaptive perfectionism were conceptualized as setting high standards but with less pre-occupation over not meeting these standards (flett & Hewitt 2006) while those who are perfectionistic in a more maladaptive way are overly concerned about making mistakes and constantly frustrated by their failures. (saboochi & lundh,2003) and may lead to a wide range of problems such as anxiety, depression and suicide.
3. – The demoralizing precedents of the intellectuals/elites: It is psychologically apodictic that human behavior is a motivated behavior and the environment in which one finds himself poses 60% influence on one’s personality and modus vivendi. The Nigerian government promotes mediocrity above merit all in the name of federal character and most intellectuals in the society are not living up expectations that the younger generation have towards them. Some are mischievous and corrupt that their attitudes have come to Mar and distort the genuine conception of success and progress among the younger generation.
Consequently, the daughter of the late sage chief. Obafemi Awolowo , Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, a former Nigeria Ambassador to the Netherlands, on the 28th of Nov 2017,in Lagos at the maiden edition of AWOLOWO foundation Annual Lecture, raised alarm that Nigeria is toying with fundamental issues capable of destroying a nation. According to her, it has been proven that to destroy a nation, all that is required is to destroy her educational system, lower their role models and reference points. And the consequences of such action she said, was that there will be no one to teach values to young ones which leads to their inability to make informed choices. They will also loose perception of what is right and wrong.
The non magnification of intellectualism and scholasticism in Nigeria is a strong force depredating the student’s inclination towards the pursuit for academic excellence.
THE WAY FORWARD.
the question will always arise, ‘how can one attain academic excellence?’ St. Thomas Aquinas has this to say ‘Read one book, whatever you read or hear, take care to understand it well, again certainty in what is doubtful“
Francis Bacon stated “Read not to contradict and refute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and Discourse, but to weigh and consider”
-learn to use the library and use it often, since it offers a wealth of historical and current information which can greatly enhance your classroom experience and your general understanding.
–participate in honourable and enrichment programmes.
-select friends who are dedicated students and are serious about their grades for ‘iron sharpeneth iron’.
-learn efficient management of your time.
-Assume leadership roles as a committee member, chairperson or officer to develop qualities for success in future career endeavours.
-set a target: be ambitious and always appreciated to be the first because you deserve it. Do not settle for the less believe on yourself, set of plans and develop strategies to accomplish the. Setting targets ignites you passion and it is the driving force that propels one towards excellence.
-Be disciplined: self discipline is a conscious control over one’s lifestyle and your need to nurture it because it is one of an achiever’s greatest weapon.
Some students have worn indolence as a robe, nonchalance as footwear and procrastination as a hat. Getting dressed to travel the road of shambles, they look into the mirror of stupidity with so much satisfaction and bid their studies goodbye.They get to the end of the road only to see an ocean of failure; they skillfully dive into it and continue to swim in confusion until they are being swept away by a tide of destruction. “discipline is the foundation upon which success is built”.
About the author
Ukomadu Lawrence Maduabuchi is a law student of CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU UNIVERSITY. He hails from Amichi, under Nnewi-South L.G.A of Anambra state. He commenced his early education in Unity Primary School, Okpokolo, Amichi, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate. Afterwards, he proceeded to Dr. Alutu’s College of Excellence and Computer Studies, Nnewi, where he obtained his WAEC. He is currently the Director, Research and Studies of the LIFIN. Lawrence is a very benign and approachable person. He holds the view so tenaciously that the nobleness or loftiness of one’s profession or career is not the corollary to one’s success and fulfillment in life rather discovering and following that which prolifically makes one happy is golden. And being, stricto sensu, the LORD OF HIS PRIDE is one of his greatest goals.