Okechukwu Ofili: Our dangerous addiction to intelligence

“They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

This is a question that almost every person has been asked at one point in their life. The answers we are most likely expected to give include Accountant, Engineering or Medicine. But John Lennon of The Beatles gave a different response…when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, John Lennon…who was barely five years old wrote down the word “happy.”

But his teacher did not accept the answer “happy”, they wanted something else…an occupation and definitely not a feeling. They accused John Lennon of not understanding the question…

That clash between a 5 years old’s innocent mind and an established and aged educational system, generated a classic response from John that exposed one of the greatest and most critical flaws of our educational system. In the words of John Lennon…

“They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” And that is the truth, because for decades our educational system has not understood life.

We seek to train students, with a goal to make them the most intelligent so that they can get the best jobs. We teach them how to answer questions and pass tests so that they can get the highest grades. But in the midst of all the craziness we forget to teach them about life, about happiness.


Okechukwu Ofili is a motivational speaker, author, success coach and karate kid entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail