The knowledge on cultural practices that are beneficial for society and nation building has been the lasting treasures of the old sages in various communities. They were fortunate to have been enlightened and tutored by their fathers and other old family members. The means of cultural education was through informal means and settings. This included evening gatherings, society meetings, and during communal works and interactions with the elderly members of the community. The regular tutoring that was received by the current old generation through these informal avenues abreast them with the time-tested cultural practices that ensure good relationships, good work ethics and the exhibition of good moral behavior.
It is sad that the current generation of youths is not privileged as their elderly generation. The majority of these youngsters are poor in the knowledge of these relevant cultural practices. It is as if the informal channels of tutoring have been blocked. If care is not taken to arrest this anomaly, modern societies would soon experience the wiping out of the elderly generation who are the holders of the knowledge of the cultural practices. This would invariably result in the loss of all the knowledge regarding the cultural practices. Therefore, pragmatic measures must be taken by cultural institutions, educational institutions, and governments to roll out diverse means through which the cultural education of the rich cultural heritage of the forebears would be relayed to the youth in various communities.
Cultural practices like proverbs, the narration of folklores, stories and myths were models of cultural instruction that offered powerful behavioral lessons for the young ones in societies. After the narration of the morally charged proverb or story, the elders who served as the instructors asked the youths various questions that helped them to reason and glean the import of the narrative. This groomed their sense of judgment, reasoning, and problem-solving skills. Also, the lessons learned from the cultural practices deepened the resolve of the youth in that age to demonstrate good traits such as honesty, diligence, respect for the elderly, use of good speech while abhorring bad traits like stealing, use of bad speech crowded with profane expressions, disrespect, and laziness. As a cultural anthropologist, I am of the view that this might have accounted for the high development in economics, environment and other spheres of life in the early years of humanity. It might have also been the secret behind the long earthly life attained by the morally upright predecessors.
The tutoring of the youth about the cultural practices is lacking in modern societies. The elderly members of communities are attributing it to the spread of the modern forms of entertainment like the watching of television and films. Others are attributing it to the wrong perceptions of the younger generation that the cultural practices were promulgated by the forebears due to their lack of civilization. This is gradually causing the erosion and the possible extinction of this precious, multi-faceted knowledge associated with the cultural practices. There must be an immediate arrest of the situation by intensifying cultural education of the youth.
This can be carried out by using the educational institutions as avenues for teaching the youth about their cultural heritage. The educational curriculum must be structured to include these proverbial sayings and other forms of cultural practices to instruct the youth of powerful moral lessons that promotes development. The old and exemplary old members of societies can be targeted as resource persons in schools to teach the young ones about their culture. The television and entertainment industry must use the old stories, myths and proverbs as plots or story lines for some of their films to indirectly help the youth to attain the cultural knowledge. Gradually, this would help in correcting the wrong perception that most of the youth have concerning the cultural practices as belonging to the past and as such not relevant to society living in the modern age. It would essentially help in the sustenance, preservation, and promotion of the cultural practices that instilled good morals in the youth in the early generation of mankind who are now the elderly generation. When this cultural education of the youth is attained, the younger and future generations would be privileged to have a society with members of heightened moral behaviors and its associated maximization in society and national development.