Official Review: Tai Solarin by Dele Babalola

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teacherjh
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Official Review: Tai Solarin by Dele Babalola

Post by teacherjh » 31 Jul 2018, 16:09

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Tai Solarin" by Dele Babalola.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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I picked up the biography, Tai Solarin: Africa's Greatest Educationist and Humanist because he was an educator. As a teacher, I was interested to read about his famous Mayflower School where students were taught academic, technical, and life skills. I was increasingly impressed as I read about this man who inspired his students to reach for their dreams.

The layout of the book was not exactly what I was expecting from a biography. It does not follow a linear path from Tai’s birth to death. It starts out with a foreword written by a former student which focuses mainly on why the author is qualified to write the book. The next chapter is a tribute to the teacher by the author. He speaks of Tai’s humble character and dedicated life philosophy. Then another alumnus writes the introduction which is basically a review of the book itself. Only after all this does what I consider the meat of the story begin. Nevertheless, it begins at the end with the author describing how he learned of Tai’s death. Interestingly, Tai requested a quick and simple burial. This was very counter-cultural for Nigeria, but despite the crowds wanting to make their condolences, his wishes were honored. This is just one example of a man who did not follow convention but lived and died according to his own values.

The rest of the book details both Tai’s life and the legacy of the Mayflower School he founded. Tai came from poor beginnings. He worked to put himself through school, became a teacher and joined the Royal Navy. He faced many obstacles but refused to quit. Throughout his life, he also fought for social justice. His opposition to the government even got him imprisoned.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter describing a typical week at the Mayflower School. Students were awakened at 5:30 AM for exercise and morning assembly. There was a high moral code and students caught skipping assembly were punished. Assembly consisted of singing and a morning lecture about either philosophy or scientific research. This was followed by breakfast and classes. One group of students each day would be excused from classes to work around the campus. The afternoon included lunch, siesta, and what was called society activities. Students were divided into groups to take care of animals or work in the fields. After supper, there was an evening assembly. Students were given quiet time to reflect, read, and memorize famous speeches. The author reports that he read 5-10 books a week while attending Mayflower. The day ended with a study hall and sometimes singing. Saturdays were for farm work and cleaning. In the evening there would be time for games and social activities. Sundays there was a community gathering. Tai would speak to the students about his life philosophy. As an atheist, he believed man had only himself to rely on. He spoke of diligence, persistence, generosity, the value of suffering, and self-denial. I was especially interested in his belief that leaders should live and suffer just like the masses. Then they would sympathize with the people and work together to improve everyone’s lives.

This school was so different from what we see today. The combination of military discipline, practical knowledge, and high academic expectations created numerous high-profile, successful graduates. The author felt that many of Nigeria’s current problems could be solved by following Tai’s life philosophy and values. I tend to agree. For this reason, I rate Tai Solarin 4 out of 4 stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in social justice, educational reform, or positive thinking.

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Tai Solarin
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Post by kandscreeley » 20 Sep 2018, 08:43

I'm not normally very interested in non-fiction books, but Tai sounds like a fabulous person. I love that he founded the school, and it sounds like it would be interesting to learn about a typical week there. Thanks for the review. I'll keep this one in mind when I'm looking for a biography.
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Post by Debjani Ghosh » 20 Sep 2018, 09:05

I am not into biographical books but Tai Solarin seems like a humble and courageous person who helped many get education. It would be interesting to know the perspective of Tai's students about him. Thanks for the review!

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Post by Allyseria » 20 Sep 2018, 14:07

Thank you for your review. I think I'll have to give this book a read - I have never read a book that details a school in Nigeria. I think this will be a thought-provoking book for me.

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Post by teacherjh » 20 Sep 2018, 15:34

Allyseria wrote:
20 Sep 2018, 14:07
Thank you for your review. I think I'll have to give this book a read - I have never read a book that details a school in Nigeria. I think this will be a thought-provoking book for me.
It was really interesting to see a different perspective.
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Post by Dael Reader » 20 Sep 2018, 18:06

Solarin sounds like an interesting and honorable man. Off hand, I wouldn't say that I agree that military discipline and an atheistic life philosophy based on the ideas that "man had only himself to rely on" and the "value of suffering" are the best way to solve the problems of any society (or within any individual). More and more I realize that I believe in the power of a connected community over the power of the individual. And I am skeptical about what some people mean when they talk about the value of suffering (as is a life of suffering is better than a life of peace, health, and wholeness?). But perhaps these ideas are strongly tempered by his ideals of persistence and generosity. Your review does make me want to learn more about him though.

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Post by Adora_300 » 20 Sep 2018, 23:37

How is it that I have never heard of this man before and have lived in Nigeria? Lovely review! I'd definitely grab a copy soon!

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Post by primeRex » 21 Sep 2018, 03:36

Thua Tai would thunder with livid outrage over the lackadaisical mannerism flagrantly displayed in Nigeria today. I am keenly drawn to this book because, I percieve it to be a guide for idealistic accomplishments. Great review by the way.

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Post by mac83 » 21 Sep 2018, 10:25

I tend to not enjoy biographies so I am unsure how much I would enjoy this book, but Tai does sound like an interesting person. I may take a look at it because I like how you wrapped up your review and included those who are interested in positive thinking might enjoy the book.
Mac :techie-reference:

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Post by teacherjh » 21 Sep 2018, 11:06

primeRex wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 03:36
Thua Tai would thunder with livid outrage over the lackadaisical mannerism flagrantly displayed in Nigeria today. I am keenly drawn to this book because, I percieve it to be a guide for idealistic accomplishments. Great review by the way.
Thanks for the compliment. Reading this book made me want to learn more about Nigeria.
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Post by Eva Darrington » 21 Sep 2018, 15:38

It sounds to me like I would be torn between some of the positive educational values, and the more austere beliefs around punishment and isolationism. Might be interesting to read it and sort through that, though. Thanks for the introduction to this book.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

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Post by teacherjh » 22 Sep 2018, 22:18

mac83 wrote:
21 Sep 2018, 10:25
I tend to not enjoy biographies so I am unsure how much I would enjoy this book, but Tai does sound like an interesting person. I may take a look at it because I like how you wrapped up your review and included those who are interested in positive thinking might enjoy the book.
His life philosophies were some of the parts I liked best. I think you would enjoy it.
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Post by gen_g » 23 Sep 2018, 04:57

Tai definitely sounds like a man ahead of his times; I believe that many of our education systems utilised today could benefit from a few pointers from Tai's philosophy. Thanks for the review!

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Post by jcoad » 24 Sep 2018, 07:22

Very cool. I love to read and learn, and this is definitely an area of the world where my knowledge is limited. Sounds like a great story about a great educator. I will look for this book. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by teacherjh » 24 Sep 2018, 14:59

jcoad wrote:
24 Sep 2018, 07:22
Very cool. I love to read and learn, and this is definitely an area of the world where my knowledge is limited. Sounds like a great story about a great educator. I will look for this book. Thanks for the great review!
It definitely expanded my worldview. I hope you enjoy it.
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