Sunday, July 14, 2024


Broadly speaking, Nigerian youths comprise of graduates and non-graduates. No matter the class you belong to, there is mismatch in orientations among graduates and non-graduates. To the graduates who have acquired some sorts of western and conventional knowledge (book smartness) from the ivory towers and higher institutions of learning.

Majority of them are enmeshed with much more rigorous theories that may not have practical applications in understanding the present realities and life challenges, partly because they are trained with the philosophies of ‘’All things being equal’’ which in the real sense, ‘’All things can never be equal’’ as life itself is full of many undocumented drama that have not been captured by Hollywood.

In contrast, the non-graduates have much more practical applications, because they tend to explore the intrigues, drama and realities of life by themselves. They are trained with the philosophies of ‘’Street is strict and only the rugged survives’’. Although the non-graduates may lack conceptual and theoretical thinking that can be used to drive innovations and ideas incubation. This article is written to demonstrate how the graduates who are book smart, can learn street smartness, and while the non-graduates who are street smart, can learn book smartness.

The true meaning and appreciation of smartness depends on the context and perspectives one is looking at it. Smart means different things to different people. Smart in one sense is someone who is fit into any situation under consideration. For instance, when you see an army, naval or air force officer, who dress neatly, walk briskly and swiftly, with shining shoes, starched and ironed uniform and well-placed buttons, suave and collected with command of English, talk in a cool and calm manner and composed or organized can look very smart.

In another sense, we can add smart to device or gadget that give soft, fast, reliable, accurate experience such as Smartphone, because of its speed, high operating system (OS), soft-touch pad, download faster and easier among others. This may explain why people prefer android phone in surfing the internet, than blackberry, which does not has flexible and adaptable features.

Smart generally mean to be good at learning and understanding things, so if student do well in school, have better understanding of what he/she is being taught, grasp easily and have a good grade, the student is said to be book smart. In contrast, when someone displays practical experience, trust his own judgment and intuition in making right decision and getting desired result, such person is said to be street smart. Furthermore, the combination of the book and street smartness with favour (God smartness) that i coined as ‘’Integrative Smartness’’.

What do you stand to gain from Book Smartness?

Book smarts people are headquarters and store-house of knowledge, ideas, innovations that people run to for clear-cut solutions, thereby build their confidence, boosting networking, social capital, easily attracted to people, people’s welcome them with trust, approval and stimulate social appealing.

Book smart people have something to show for their success and their fast-track academic excellence and accolades is there for all to see. They have zeal, internal push, resilient to seek for more knowledge in liberating the world from mental slavery.

What do you stand to gain from Street Smartness?

Street smartness is being able to live by intuitive thoughts, rather than scientific thoughts, trust your own judgment and accept the outcome without blaming anybody. It is about playing with variables of life challenges through experience, with no fear, ability and readiness to take risk. Street smartness believes they are the sole architect of their own fortunes and learning from life experience. They learn mostly through their keen observation from people they crossed their path.

To the street smarts, their surrounding and people around them is the book they rely on for much diverse unconventional knowledge with open-mindedness and learn from practical side of life. They have better contextual understanding of their environment, the actors at play and how can they circumvent their way, understand life better and see business side of every circumstances of life. They have practical knowledge, highly sensitive to read between lines, connect the dots and make meaning from hidden truths.

Street smart has a way of using people to get what they want, they can go as far getting the best brains and think-tanks (book smarts) to get result for their breakthrough. They have multiple ideas, although they may lack conceptual, scientific, philosophical and methodological way of doing it. However, because, they are result-oriented, they go extra-miles to meet people (book smarts) that can explain, expand and develop methods in which their ideas can be achievable.

Street smart people are guided by intuitive thoughts, this enables them to think outside the box, above the ceiling and possessed unusual thoughts to change the status quo. Because they are not guided by pre-scientific thinking that must be met. So they are closest to the reality.

Street smartness is a way of manipulating processes in a traditional way and handle life challenges in a practical, tangible, concrete, feasible and viable manner. It is guided by indigenous knowledge and native wisdom gained out of school and other informal learning in understanding the mysteries of life through experience.

In a general sense, book smartness and street smartness have numerous complementary cutting-edge advantages in learning the principles that govern life and providing practical-based solutions to life challenges. There is need to leverage on knowledge acquired from books, wisdom and life experience in understanding reality and the world we live in.

One-side of book smart or street smart is not good enough, there is need to strike balance between the two to get better results. To be book smart and street smart requires a lot of conscious and deliberate efforts you have to invest into yourself.

Nigerian youths both graduates and non- graduates have to be equipped with the needed knowledge in order to create new knowledge for understanding life better and provide solutions to human problems and life challenges. As humans, we also need to unlearn, rethink, dethink age-long knowledge that have no practical applications and expand on the frontiers of knowledge from real life experience.

There is need to change our orientation and be expose to the global realities that having learnt a given vocation from the multiple walls of the street is not enough (street smartness), having acquired first-hand knowledge from the four-walls of classrooms is not enough (book smartness), but the need the incorporate the two knowledge of book smartness and street smartness together to get better results and understand life in a broader, deeper perspectives.

As human, we need to strike balance between western knowledge and indigenous knowledge, theories and practices, and real life experience. Through this, it will enhance raising individuals that have broad-analytical mind for problem-solving, sound-judgments in decision making, tremendous capacity for stimulating ground-breaking innovations, enterprise development and expanding frontiers of knowledge.

Furthermore, as humans, incorporating book smartness with street smartness will help us to be critical, smart, creative, analytical, innovative, enterprise thinkers and societal engineers for finding sustainable solutions to the problems facing humanity, garner more knowledge and experience about life, liberate the minds from the shackles of mental slavery, beer parlour analysis and fighting the scourge of poverty.

Fatai Olansile is a think tank scholar with tremendous capacity for teaching, research, development, knowledge creations, youth empowerment and nation building.

Articles on are solely authors opinion



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