Written by Dr. Abasher Elhaj
Translated by Leem Fawzi
After the murder of George Floyd by a US police officer in 2020, there were calls for designing a curriculum that inspires learners to become ethical and free from racism so as to understand and respect their own and each other’s cultures, and traditions.
A hearsay that was spreading around before the coup of Oct. 25 that there was an attempt to reappoint Professor Mohamed El-Amin El-Toum as the Minister of Education. In my opinion, I think that this ministry should be managed by an individual with an extensive knowledge and a wide sense of imagination, regardless of his pertinence. In short; he just needs to be a model or a unique person. Based on my academic experience, I think that the best curriculum for the English language in Sudan was ‘The Nile Course’ since it was designed by people who were remarkably knowledgeable and had a really vivid imagination. The modern education focuses on developing the deductive, inductive and the instinctive skills of individuals; which are the basic aspects of critical thinking. Unlike the barbarian educational methods and theories adopted by Islamist regime which proposed pre-made and systematic solutions for all our moral, social and political issues.
The title of this article is somehow close to the title of a children’s book called (I see a song) by the American author Eric Carle. Carle states at the beginning of the book the following: “I see a song, I paint music, I hear colors, and I touch the rainbow. My music talks. My colors dance. Come, listen, and let your imagination incarnates your own songs”.
The book is clear from any musical alphabets or notation, and it merely has no single word or phrase sung, instead it is an interpretation of a lyric piece of music using colors and shapes. The book aims to free the child’s imagination since the early stages, but instead to give him this lyric piece in a colorful figure manner. This is because giving a title might trap the child and prevent him from thinking outside of the box. Carle is asking the child an innocent, simple question before presenting the lyric piece: What do you see when you listen? What do you feel when you hear music? Do you feel happy? Do you feel sad? Does music remind you of any stories?
I was really optimistic upon hearing that Professor Mohamed El-Amin El-Toum was appointed as Minister of Education, as I thought that finally someone who will unbridle the imagination of the younger generation of Sudan from restraints, finally someone who will help them grow more and bigger wings to fly across the worlds of imagination with harmony in their own-selves has come. Professor El-Toum wanted every child to burst out how much fantasy multitudes he had in the dimensions of colors, shadows, perceptions, and mind creativity, according to each child’s ability of collecting and gathering units of color and shape surrounding him regarding both the world around him and his own world (his mind).
There is no doubt that professor El-Toum was aware of his creative and imaginative tools as much as he was aware of his goal of transferring color into sound. He didn’t want to trap a child’s imagination inside specific shapes with fixed colors; instead, he wanted to use the derivatives of colors to move the child up through the different levels of the single color, and when the child is faced with a contrasting color his instincts of dealing with this new color are being awakened for him to approach new cosmic connections which only exist in his own world as he himself becomes a strong and bright rhythm in the symphony of nature as they both collide, and the child gains confidence in expressing its different colors.
The ex-Minister of Education and the ex-Director of the National Centre for curriculum, Dr. Garrai, aimed to target the children using two interesting sectors: sound and color. Sound is the first alarming agent to get a child’s attention, and color is the first eye-catching agent for a child’s vision. Imagination is poised between this binary to take control and lead them, but those who are intellectually alienated wanted to pin-down the early thinking skills and to pattern those skills to what suits their own mentality and way of thinking. If only they had known that a community which does not participate in developing the mind could never set any basics for producing and managing resources. In this case, talking about the independence of decisions is a joke which its laughter is actually whimpers.
In sum, how many teachers, musicians, and artists since the independence of Sudan have thought about our children in this amazing and devoted way?! How many of them have thought about this innocent, beautiful and neglected human?! Despite all of that we still blame them when they grow up for being fearful and for having narrow and limited minds as well as being ignorant! The Sudanese novel of Baraka Sakin “Khandaris Imagination” remains a forever witness for all of this.