Title: Academic Success, Brain Power Guide For Every Student,
Publisher: Giantthoughts International, Lagos, 2011
Author: Ogbo Awoke Ogbo
Reviewer: Bayo Ogunmupe
THIS book is a timely and relevant publication to teach academic tools, as well as noble exhortation to the youth of Nigeria on how to attain academic excellence. This is a practical roadmap for students who desire academic success but are unsure of how to achieve it.
Through its ten chapters, it shows the principles of maximizing the abilities of every student. The first chapter contains the introduction. It says that in the highest of civilizations, the book is still a great delight for human progress and development. It is captioned, Rekindling the Faded Prestige of Rigorous Academics. It relates Glenn Doman in his book: How to Teach Your Baby to Read, where it is observed that, “Non-reading children are the greatest problem in American education.” The same is true in Nigeria.
To experience outstanding academic achievement, you must understand how your brain works and how to get the most out of it. When you do, learning will become a thing of joy and not punishment.
Awoke Ogbo also admonishes: The best way to honour your parents for paying your school fees is to take your academics seriously.
Your brain is wired for wonders, is another caption to be found on Chapter two of this book. Here the author relates the amazing brilliance of the great actor, Marlon Brando. Brando’s teacher, Stella Adler had instructed Brando’s class to act like chickens upon whom a nuclear bomb was about to fall. While most of his class clucked loudly, Brando sat calmly and pretended to lay eggs. When Adler asked why he reacted that way, Brando replied: “I’m a chicken, what do I know about bombs? His brilliant reply classed him the most influential actor of the 20th century.
These introductory chapters are very crucial to the understanding of the skills of learning. “How to read and understand is the heading of chapter III. No skill is more crucial to the future of a child then literacy. Forget spiritual attack. Concentrate on your greatest asset – your memory. Learn to read and understand. Befriend the dictionary. Two elements for effective reading are concentration and comprehension. The practice of cramming is dangerous. It isn’t the best way to engage your memory. After cramming wears away, you are left with nothing. But learning to understand stands permanently in your memory. Also, you should avoid poor learning environment. Bad learning environments include your parlour where siblings and strangers throng for meals or relaxation. Study environments should be spacious, have adequate lighting, and be properly ventilated. The place must be quiet and free from buzz, stinging insects and the like. The worst enemy of achievement in learning is distraction.
Another obstacle to success in learning is poor eating habits. If you have the habit of wolfing down mounds of pounded yam and vegetable soup just before the mathematics lecture, you are deceiving yourself. You will sleep. All the blood in you would rush to your stomach to tackle the hefty task of digestion, leaving only trickles in your oxygen-hungry brain. How would you then understand what the lecturer is saying? Know when to eat light. Healthy eating provides essential nutrients to your brain.
Moreover, a deficient vocabulary is the prescription for failure. Words are a medium of exchange between people. Research shows that the more words you know, the greater your chances of success and achievement. If your vocabulary is deficient, you will have difficulty reading and understanding. Also, deficient vocabulary is responsible for the damning levels of graduate unemployment in Nigeria today. The dictionary is your tool for academic excellence. You cannot succeed without befriending the dictionary.
Spelling is another tragedy. This has been worsened by cell phone’s short messaging service (sms) and the Internet Social media. Each level of education has a comprehension threshold that is, the minimum number of words you must know to understand what you are studying. Whenever you come across a new word, take note of its spelling and correct usage. If you want to comprehend English correctly, stop speaking pidgin English. It will confuse your understanding of the English Language. You can speak pidgin for fun but never for erudition. Also, the first casualty of your Blackberry sms addiction is your spelling power. Academic success is impossible without self control and discipline.
I will skip “What to Do If You Think You Have Learning Disability,” the heading of Chapter IV. I assume you don't have a learning disorder. However, I urge you to buy the book for your salvation. Instead I will treat “Improving Your Memory” which is the caption for Chapter Five. Alexander Smith, a 19th century Scottish poet wrote “A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.” Here Mr. Ogbo delineates the three memories: Sensory, short term and long term memories to enable you comprehend the powers of your memory. The top secret is that the brain thinks in pictures. It does not operate in texts. Thus, the best way to empower your memory is in mnemonics, that is by associating things in pictures. That is the way you can increase the quality of your memory. Use graphic (photographic) organizers to organize your studies. That is the way geniuses do. Mnemosyne is the Greek goddess of memory. It is one of the most powerful deities in Greek mythology, why? Because your success in life depends on your memory. Memory makes thought and reasoning possible. It is the very foundation of civilization, of creativity and inventiveness.
Long before the invention of writing, our very survival depended on lessons passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. But the secret of a good memory is remembering by association. Because the brain thinks in pictures, any time you come across the word orange, what comes to your mind? It is the picture of the orange fruit of course. This is why visualization is a powerful aid to memory. Your memory is a connection building system. You are able to remember things better by associating them to familiar matters. The key to academic success is love. You must love your subject to the extent of dreaming of it. In showing examples of successful associations to memory work, Mr. Ogbo chose James Allen’s Eight Pillars of Prosperity.” Mr. Ogbo could easily recall Allen’s pillars as: Energy, Economy, Integrity, System, Sympathy, Sincerity, Impartiality and self reliance. He could easily attach these principles to episodes in his life because of his love for prosperity. This is a way of using mnemonics to aid memory. This Brain Power Guide to Academic Success has ten chapters, 108 pages and is beautifully printed. The book is written by Awoke Ogbo who has a master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Ibadan and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Ogbo started his career with Shell. Two years into Shell, Chevron snatched him with a bigger offer. Six years later, Shell induced him back to their fold. Less than three years later Ogbo resigned to pursue his passion for skills coathing, writing and motivational speaking. Ogbo consults for corporate organizations, universities and schools. He is a guest lecturer in several radio shows and the national media. He hosts a weekly television show. Healthy, Wealthy and Wise on Silverbird Television. This book is a treasure chest of memory tools, as well as noble exhortation to Nigerian youth and beyond.