Reflective Essay Examining One`s Own Background and Personal Learning

Journey and Evaluating Progress in Relation to the Social Context
Life is a long journey that individuals take, and it begins when
individuals are born. This journey is filled with numerous
accomplishments, which give people the strength to continue with the
journey. On the same note, there are many disappointments, which act as
drawbacks to the gains that people make in life. This disappointment
result from poor planning and human weaknesses, which means that human,
cannot do things with perfection. There are inadequacies that hinder the
realisation of the goals and ambitions of individuals. Human beings are
born in the context of various systems as social systems, political,
religious, cultural and economic systems. Most significantly, people are
born in the family context, which is the key tool of influence to the
success of individuals. To this end, the family provides the entire
support for their children, including love, education, housing,
nourishment and medical health among others.
Further, the learning journey of an individual begins with the early
socialisation, which is given by the parents, as well as the siblings
(Jackman 2012, p132). This socialisation is vital in the life of a
person as one gets to know the traditions, cultures and the rich
knowledge stock of community history, heroes and secrets. Parents teach
their children on the desirablebehaviours, which are recognisedby the
community as desirable, by the community. Further, parents train their
kids to obey the social norms through rewards for right conduct and
punishment gross conduct (Loreman 2009, p111). Later, kids join school,
and they widen their socialisation circle to peers and teachers.
Therefore, the learning process begins after birth and it continues
throughout the entire life.
As people manoeuvre through life, the feel the need to connect with
other people for passion, especially when the rest of the basic needs
have been satisfied. These connections result to marriage, which places
people especially females in new environments away from home and parents
(Layard & Dunn 2009, p73). Therefore, married women are compelled, by
circumstance to adapt to the new social context, which might be in parts
of the planet different than theirs. Primarily, the reflection on the
life of an individual exploits many avenues, which had an impact on the
life of the individual in one way of the other. This brief overview will
focus on the reflection of my existence as of the instance I was born to
the present with vivid emphasis on the entire aspects of my life, which
shaped my destiny (Buckingham 2003, p122).
Both my parents were Kenyan citizens, and I was born in the same
country, which gave me an automatic right of nationality to this nation.
Being a third world nation in Africa, Kenya has diverse and rich
resources, which encompass both natural and manmade resources (Naftali
2007, p177). The Kenyan people are fond of their culture, and they stick
to the traditions of the various cultural groups to preserve and
acknowledge their heritage (Loreman 2009, p113). The culture Kenya
encourages people to bear many children as kids in the family are seen
as a source of labour and security in the family. Further, girls are
considered as a source of wealth because once they are married off, the
family of the man pays dowry inform of cows and other property in
compensation for the girl (Best & Thomas 2008, 63). Further, girls prove
useful with household chores and they help their mothers with domestic
Boys were highly regarded and respected in a patriarchal society as
they symbolise power and authority. Boys grow to become warriors who
protect the community. These believe drive the Kenyan families to get
many children in their pursuit for wealth, labour force and security
(Smith 2010, p126).
Similar to this argument, my family had eight children, and half the
number was girls and the rest were boys. Though we provided adequate
family work at home, my parents, especially my father were strict with
education and they emphasised most of time we should be doing homework
and assignments. Therefore, all my siblings excelled in education and
secured jobs in different areas, in the government. The elder brother
joined the army while the rest of the brothers became police officers,
and my sisters became teachers as mum.
Working in the forces was more or less a family job on the side of my
dad my grandfather on the same side was also an army officer. My
paternal grandmother was a teacher who dealt with training aged people
how to read and write Swahili, and so was my mum who was a dedicated
teacher, in the primary school. Similarly, my maternal grandmother was a
nursery school teacher and the teaching profession seemed as a family
job, though for the females. The only distinct figure in the family
lineage was my maternal grandfather who was a priest, and he was a
strict man who could not tolerate inappropriate behaviour (Green 2010,
p69). Apparently, he sued my dad when he realised that he was
responsible for the pregnancy that my mum was carrying.
It is imperative to note that my father was the absolute authority in
the house and his word was firm and final. Whoever violated his law
faced serious consequences of being whipped and this whipping moulded us
to become admirable kids in the neighbourhood (Buckingham 2003, p122).
Most parents in the neighbourhood wished that their kids would follow
the steps of my siblings, and I maintain adorable levels of discipline.
Being the head of the family, my father gave orders, and he was also in
charge of all the key decisions in the house. My mum would surrender her
entire earnings, which were higher than those of my dad and then get
budgeted money for the entire month.
My parents were extremely strict with discipline, and we were not
allowed to hang out with everybody. In fact, my dad was extremely choosy
of friends that visited us, and we only went out with friends that were
approved by the parents (Parker et al 2009, p122). Though strict the
parents always wanted us to get the best in life. Our entire life was
organised and scheduled from Monday to Sunday. In the entire week, we
all remained in the house reading books and doing home work. The school
days followed a schedule, which was repeated every day and every week
throughout the years. For instance, we all woke up at the crack of dawn
prepared for school and had breakfast. The implication of this order was
that we all arrived at school on time, and nobody was ever late.
Further, the parents did not allow us to carry packed lunch, but had to
go home for lunch every day. The two parents were concerned about the
nutritive content of food that we ate and every time we got enough food,
without restrictions. The jobs that we handled at home were divided
amongst the entire sibling with gender appropriate role being considered
seriously. For instance, during the weekend, especially on Saturday, my
sisters and I would handle the household chores as scrubbing the floor
and washing the family clothes (Buckingham 2003, p122). Mum would visit
the market for the fruits, roots, vegetable and grains, which would last
the family a whole week.
On the contrary, dad and my brothers would tend the hedge and clear tall
bushes and grass from the compound using machetes and long knives. It
is apparent that the chores that we were assigned by the parents were in
one way or the other defining the gender differences and the gender
roles in society. These duties reflected the characteristics of a
patriarchal society, which were defined by masculinity. Men were
regarded as being masculine, and Family position and social position was
the summit of authority. Women were pushed to the periphery and their
key role child bearing and rearing, household chores.
The career choice for the children was entirely influenced by the
parents as they had premeditated suggestion of the line of career that
their children should take. Evidently, children became what their
parents decided. In our case, we were trained to be unconditionally
obedient, and nobody would go against the parents, especially my dad.
The influence of the parents in the choice of career was evidenced in my
family as dad wanted all my brothers to join the armed forces.
Similarly, my sisters were channelled to become teachers as my mum,
though only the eldest sister became a teacher. The rest joined the
police force as my brothers, and they seemed comfortable, in their jobs.
It is worth noting that my parents taught us to be hard working people
and responsible adults who could handle their life difficulties, without
breaking down entirely. I must say that spirit was vital in our early
life as it became part of our personality and personal attribute. I was
later to employ this trait in life when things turned out to be harsh
for me, and I managed to cope with the problems due to iron
determination, which was instilled in us by our dad.
Socialisation describes the process that is exploited, by the society
and parents to induct the new generations and kids into the knowledge
and skills of life. This process is significant in the life of an
individual as all the behaviour and conduct that is adopted by an
individual depends entirely on socialisation (Walton & Goddard 2012,
p54). The process of socialisation is effected by the socialisation
agents who pass the knowledge and the way of life to the youthful
members of the society. Imperatively, even the ordinary things as the
appropriate way of dressing for women, gender roles and hierarchy of
authority are socialised into children who imitate the ways of life of a
community from the elders (Green 2010, p69). The most significant agents
of socialisation are the parents and siblings, and by extension peers
and teachers.
Being born in a family of eight, I enjoyed a warm stock of love and
caring from my elder brothers and sisters who were always eager to help
me with anything that I wanted. Essentially, large families encourage
tolerance and diversity as kids moderate their quest for attention from
their parents (Walton & Goddard 2012, p56). Further, the parents acted
as perfect role models for us, and we developed substantial sense of
trust and passion from the example that the parents did set for us.
Further, the family socialisation equipped me with vital conflict
resolution skills, which have helped me survive many conflicting
moments, without exhausting my resources.
Further, our parents were Christians, and they were committed to this
course. Christianity was a popular religion in Kenya, and it is still
popular today. The parents socialised us into the religion, and we were
made to go to church every Sunday (Walton & Goddard 2012, p59).
Imperatively, religion, and in this case Christianity is vital in the
lives of people as it acts instils morals into the lives of individuals.
Christianity encourages people to live sin free lives with the hope that
they will be rewarded with a gift of eternal life after death. This
promise of attractive rewards for the people who live righteously makes
most people refrain from sins thus moderate their behaviour to
facilitate peaceful coexistence, in this world (Talaska 1992, p73).
As a committed Christian, I observed my moral behaviour and obeyed my
parents in all ways. Desirable behaviour and exemplary performance in
school was rewarded with gifts of clothes and elegant shoes from our
parents, and this motivation encouraged us to work hard and maintain
moral behaviour. As Maslow described the hierarchy of needs, my parents
ensure that the basic needs of the family were fulfilled before other
things. Such needs include food, shelter, clothing love and education
were covered, regardless of the fact that the family was not rich.
Though the family was prominent, our parents managed to satisfy all the
kids with good stuff that nobody complained of anything.
The aspect of trust is vital in the life of human beings. Young kids are
only born, with the capacity to think and perform a task, but that
potential is not realised until the kids reach a certain age (Walton &
Goddard 2012, p84). Therefore, these kids are entirely dependent on
their parents and other people for their survival, and they must learn
to trust these people. Further, kids are socialised to know that not all
people are trusted, and one should be cautious when choosing friends to
avoid disappointments of harm from pretentious friends. To this end, my
parents restricted the number of friends that we interacted with and few
friends were allowed in our house. However, the family had potent
friends, which were allowed to interact with us freely. My dad’s level
of rust to this family was substantial, and we spent most of the
Christmas holidays with this family. Further, the children of the family
friends were the most trusted friends that I had.
It is imperative to note that the trust that my dad had for this family
made me pay a steep price, and this price changed my entire life
(Gestwicki et al 2011). I was pursuing my high school education when
life took a different turn, and things started to disfavour my side. In
one of the December holidays, my parents allowed me to stay for the
night with the family, which were the greatest friends that we had. The
experience was exciting as I enjoyed the company best friend who was a
daughter to that family. However, things turned sour, when an elder son
to that family forced himself on me at night and, unfortunately, I
conceived. Since the time that was born, my parents were always proud of
me, and they protected me with everything that they had.
Following the events of the fateful night, my parents changed their
perspective of me, and they were no longer proud of me as their
daughter. Therefore, my parents abandoned me and left me to stay with
the family, which would take care of the baby to be born and me, as
well. Life was difficult in a different family as the as my roles
changed abruptly from a daughter and a student to acquire an abrupt
status of a wife and an expecting woman (Curtis & Pettigrew 2009, p75).
Adapting to this new life was difficult and so was staying with
different people than my family. It is significant to note that I was
not prepared for married life, and nobody gave me counsel on how to
handle the challenges of marriage life (Hillyard 2007, p56). I had to
manoeuvre my way through problems and find solutions through my
creativity and hard work.
I believe that my young age had a part to play in it, but either way I
developed serious complication during the parturition of my first born
son. These complications left me half dead as mu leg paralysed for
months. Life was extremely difficult for me and my parents sympathised
with my condition, they allowed me back in the home and took me back to
school. Evidently, education was the key factor to success, in Kenya and
my parents were aware of this fact (Hillyard 2007, p59). My dad was also
concerned about my economic and financial stability, and he opted to
take me back to school. In most parts of the planet, educational
certification is a requirement for job opportunities, as well as age
I cleared my high school education when I was sixteen, and my father
wanted to secure a job for me as a police officer. However, my young age
was a hindering factor for this mission as people who enrolled in the
forces were required to have reached an age of at least twenty years.
Therefore, my father corrupted his way to getting me an identity card,
which proved that I had reached the minimum age for employment in the
forces (Curtis & Pettigrew 2009, p65).
With fake documents concerning my age and excellent academic papers,
getting employment in the police force was not difficult at all. I must
say that I was extremely excited about getting a job in the forces and I
was confident that I would manage to raise my son without problems. For
yet another time, life was good, and I thought that I had made a
breakthrough in life. Indeed, everything went on well until I fell in
I thought that I would work for me and not against, especially because
the man who drove my heart crazy was a white man from UK. The man had
come to Kenya for talks in the police college and I fell I love with
him. Though I was not sure of my actions, I ignored all the warning
feeling and fears that occupied my mind. After a few months of our
distant relationship, my son and I joined the white man in UK where we
stayed for a brief happy life.
It is apparent that people hide their secrets, and true character to
other people to ensure that they win their hearts (Foley et al 2001,
p62). However, this game does not last as eventually the pretence paves
way to the actual and genuine personality and character of individuals.
It downed on me that my husband had problems with controlling his anger
and he was suffering from a terminal illness, which was pushing his
anger to the edge. The decision to end the marriage arrangement came to
my mind when my husband became extremely abusive. However, he promised
to kill himself if I left him and at some point he threatened me with a
knife (Essa 2009, 146). The social services and the police intervened,
and my husband was compelled to leave us alone.
At this point, I remember that my life was crushing down, and it was
made worse by the fact that the culture in the UK was totally different
from the Kenyan culture. The differentials in weather conditions and
geographical location, attitude and demographic characteristics brought
numerous challenges, in my life. Everything was different including
food, clothes, people, drinks and the media. Following a period of
reflection, I decided to rebuild my career in teaching. I approached a
teacher who was my buddy, and I talked to her about my plans. My quest
for success in a career in teaching, in a foreign land brought me face
to face with disturbing statistics, as well as reality of
Evidently, more than half the number of Africans in the UK does not make
it to the university. This problem is propagated by discrimination,
which push most African kids to join a gang and indulge in law-breaking
activities (Foley et al 2001, p67). The few individuals who do not rot
in jail or become jail birds refuse to engage into meaningful economic
activities as their academic incompetence makes it impossible to secure
gainful employment with lucrative income. Therefore, most of the
Africans who live in the UK depend on welfare, which gives the Africans
minimum income for survival.
I confirmed these facts with my case as my friend who was the head of a
school gave me the statistics and confirmed to me that it was difficult
for an African to succeed in any career (Curtis & Pettigrew 2009, p75).
However, I realised that her position was based on statistics, and she
did not regard individual capacity. According to her, all Africans were
failures and would not succeed in any career. However, during my school
years, my parents pushed us hard and ensured that we stretched our
limits to achieve everything that we wanted, in life. Therefore, I
decide that I would pursue a career in teaching, regardless of the
prevalent statistics, which acted as key draw backs to the emancipation
of Africans and women in the society (Gestwicki et al 2011).
The journey of mu life influenced the style of parenting that I employed
on my children as I noticed my son assume a lifestyle that was not the
best (Foley et al 2001, p67). Evidently, the parenting style that I
received from my parents was central in the parenting style that I
employed to my children. Despite the fact that the culture and the way
of life in United Kingdom allowed kids to go for sleep over parties, I
did not allow my children to follow these steps. Further, I lost trust
with people, and I stopped my kids from bringing friends in the house.
This choosing behaviour was extended to my son’s girlfriend who was
not authorised to come to the house.
The structure of a family is crucial to the attitude and nurturing that
is impacted to the kids. Functional families are vital in ensuring that
children get the right motivation and guidance towards the significance
of education (Walton & Goddard 2012, p94). Children may not like
education due to the rules that they are required to follow, in school.
This might make some kids lose interests in school, and parents should
be there to ensure that kids are not given the choice to decide to go to
school or not.
The structure of the family is vital because of authority and power
relations between husbands and wives and their children (Curtis &
Pettigrew 2009, p75). The head of the family, in patriarchal a society,
is the man or the husband. The man is the key breadwinner in the home,
and he presides over serious decisions, in the family. In most cultures,
women are assigned subordinate roles in the society, and they obey their
husbands without question. However, there are cases where husbands lose
their authority, especially if they divorce their wives or when the
wives become the breadwinners. Women who have been socialised to believe
that men are superior retain their subordinate positions and roles in
the family, regardless of their economic status (Walton & Goddard 2012,
p38). Further, there are single parent family structures, which are
mostly headed by single mothers.
Most people who develop disabilities encounter problems with securing
jobs, especially if they are not trained in any field of expertise. Such
people are ravaged, by poverty, and they are pushed to the base of the
social class as poor people. Poverty is a faithful companion for people
who occupy the lowest social class (Jackman, 2012). These conditions of
poverty are aggravated by stereotypical ideas of blacks being illiterate
and irresponsible. Further, the stereotypes are extended to gender and
gender roles (Essa 2009, 176).
Extended families in the African context are extremely vital in
providing social warmth and social support in times of need. Members of
the extended family offer their helping hands in child rearing,
socialisation of kids and supervision of kids while they perform
household duties. However, these benefits have been lost in the modern
families, which have led people to adopt nuclear families. The nuclear
families lack the vast social capital and social resources, which are
inherent in extended families. Finally, I must mention various theories,
which are evidently tied to my reflective paper as they facilitated my
understanding of the numerous social phenomena that had effects on my
life journey. The initial theory is structural functionalism, which
insists on the significance social structure and systems, which should
work to ensure social harmony. Other theories include conflict theory,
symbolism theory social action theory and social contract theory.
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