To Every Man A Brain – A Review

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To-Every-Man-A-Brain--Book

Ikechukwu Obiaya

“An insult, that’s what it would be, an insult, if I were to ask you, ‘Do you think?’” I have often begun my classes on critical thinking with such words, going on to add that one would take umbrage at such a question because we humans are, by nature, thinking creatures. However, we all know that there’s thinking and… there’s thinking. To merely have random thoughts occupying space in our heads goes under the name of thinking. But you and I know that this is vastly different from that purposeful thinking through which we unravel knotty issues, discover solutions and take the first steps to swing into action. Possessing the ability to think is not necessarily a guarantee that one will deploy that ability. In the words of Kehinde Salami, “We each have a brain, but unfortunately, it’s a pre-installed application that did not come with any user manual.” But this is a gap that he has set out to fill in the book,To Every Man a Brain.

To Every Man a Brain is a small sized book of a little overa hundred pages, but it packs a punch beyond its weight. I will come clean and say at once that the ideas that led to the production of this book resonated strongly with me. It has been my privilege to spend the last ten years in the educational sector,and I can testify that a major problem with our educational system is that we really are not teaching our young ones to think. Students are often expected to regurgitate just what they have received from the teacher, and any attempt of the studentto step out of line with original or independent thought is quickly squashed with the reward of an F grade. This book, therefore, comes as a refreshing challenge, opening up the horizon to the many enriching possibilities that come with rigorous thought.

But thoughts are not to be constructed from nothing. If we want to think deeply, we must provide the brain with material on which to think about. Hence, KehindeSalami presents to the reader the first challenge of learning to use one’s eyes and the other senses. This is a step that each one must actively engage in. Seeing, for instance, can be a very passive activity – I see because I have eyes, and as long as they are open, I will see whatever passes in front of them. But to use my sight actively, I have to really look and make the effort to take in details. The process of innovation, as Salami puts it, comes from carefully gathering such sensory data and processing them in a constructive way. If we do not use our eyes, there is no way that we will discover the many opportunities for innovation.

The term disruption generally comes with negative connotations. Thus, for one that has not read the book, it might be rather surprising to hear that the author actively encourages the reader to be disruptive. But rest assured; he calls, not for revolution but for the boldness to challenge the status quo as a means of promoting innovation. Anyone that engages in critical thinking knows that a key term for the critical thinker has to be theword ‘why’. ‘Why is this thing here?’ ‘Why does it have to be in this way?’What is the reason for this or the other thing?’The persons that change the world for the better are those that are never content with its imperfect state. They are those that constantly challenge the fallacy of doing things or doing them in a particular way just because everyone else does them or does them so. This is the disruption that KehindeSalami invites us all to.

The book is loaded with many useful tips. I particularly liked the idea of observation day. We all know how challenging it is to find time for all the things we need to do, and the tendency is to cram our every waking moment with activity. But observation day demands that we create time to do nothing but observe, time to gather those sensory perceptions, time to appreciate the details. We should create space for mulling over ideas, space for thinking, space for coming up with innovative and creative ideas.And as a means of promoting that creativity, KehindeSalami offers the ten cardinal rules of creativity. The rules place emphasis on asking questions, on opening one’s mind to various possibilities and on challenging conventions. The rules are rather like steps towards innovating. Thus, the book not only sparks the urge in the reader to do something, it also provides the support and guidance on how to go about it. Of notable interest is the wheel of prosperity template, which offers very practical tips for financial management.

It is quite a friendly little book, written in a very conversational style. The ideas the author puts forward are supported by many examples and case studies. “If they can do it,” the author seems to say, “so can you.” But he does not hesitate to point out, nevertheless, the many challenges that exist. But what he lays emphasis on is the ability to overcome those challenges if we would only think!

The production quality of the book is quite high. It is very attractive and appealing to the eyes. It is not quite pocket size, but it is not particularly large either. At present, it exists in hard bound copy. But one hopes that it will eventually be made available in a cheaper edition so that it can be accessible to everyone.

I enjoyed reading this book, and I warmly recommend it as a good and useful read.In not so many words, the author invites us all to open our eyes and make a difference. The problems of the country seen as a whole could appear overwhelming and insurmountable. But that whole is made up of many small pieces. If we all focused on trying to improve things on the small scale within the spaces we occupy, it will amount to a groundswell that will transform the nation. The slogan therefore, paraphrasing Kehinde Salami, would be, “Open your eyes, look hard, be disruptive, innovate and make a difference.”

 

 

Dr. Ikechukwu Obiaya is Dean, School of Media & Communication at Pan-Atlantic University

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