The Boiling Frog Syndrome

Human beings and frogs are the two creatures in nature who have tremendous power to adjust. Put a frog in water and start heating the water. As the temperature of the water rises, the frog is able to adjust its body temperature accordingly. The frog keeps on adjusting with an increase in temperature. Just when the water is about to reach boiling point, the frog is not able to adjust anymore. At that point, the frog decides to jump out. The frog tries to jump but is unable to do so, because it lost all its strength in adjusting with the water temperature. Very soon the frog dies. What killed the frog? Many of us would say the boiling water. But the truth is what killed the frog was its own inability to decide when it had to jump out.

I used to think that humans are too smart to be complacent about a steadily deteriorating situation, but everyday realities and the way we are treating and ignoring critical issues proves me wrong. Instead of taking immediate and decisive action, we sit and discuss the crisis. We arrange Indaba’s and meetings, we appoint advisory panels and compile new policy documents (all while simmering). We tell ourselves that we’ll do something about it “soon”, or, whatever we are busy with are steps in the right direction. We sit in the water of our own apathy and denial without making any conscious decisions to tackle the problem(s). Worse even is that some don’t see the crisis and cannot comprehend the inevitable ramifications. We’re letting the situation boil away and instead of taking action, we blame, complain, and in some extreme cases think that decolonisation is the solution.

Although this might apply to many sectors and systems I must highlight the crisis in education and the inability of our school system to prepare our kids for the world of work and business. We need to take stock of the situation and act. It becomes more and more evident that we cannot leave it up to the government to resolve this crisis. Make 2017 a year of change. Don’t be like our friend the simmering frog.