“tek your education”
In class, it was pointed out that Nervous Conditions is critique of a bildungsromane through a bildungsromane. I would like to try to explore this thought through the theme of education. I believe that Nervous Conditions is a critique of a bildungsromane because it is not this cookie-cutter story and the role that education plays in this book shows that clearly. This focus on education is not only that education is something that allows one to gain knowledge, potentially be a “Babamukuru Jr.” success story, but also how it is a battle ground. What does it mean to obtain an education anyway? What does it mean to be educated? Reflecting on Babamukuru’s life, education is becoming a person who receives all kinds of respect among people, becoming the headmaster of a missionary school, helping out family by trying to show his brother’s children this other world. But is that really all it means to be educated?
Reading about Tambudzai’s struggle to receive an education makes me think of all the times my parents and multiple other family members told me how important getting an education is. I will always remember this one time when I was sitting down with my cousin doing my college applications and a question that came up was something along the lines of: what is the best advice you have ever received? I answered the question by jokingly saying to my cousin “Well, we’ve both been told ‘tek your education’…but that’s not advice, that’s an order.” Interestingly enough, that was my answer (not in those exact words of course). Being able to receive an education, taking it, having a complete educational career is not something to take lightly in my family…and I feel that Tambudzai thinks that as well. On one hand you do not want it to take over your life, but on the other hand you know there is so much that you can do with an education, so much it can show you. Just going through the process of travelling to school, attending classes is receiving an education because you do not only need book smarts, but street smarts too. And that can only be done by having new experiences, being placed in different environments. Education helps in finding who you are as a person, what grounds you in the world, what your fears still are in world you are living in. And Nervous Conditions serves as the critique of a bildungsromane because while she is growing up, there are still things that keep Tambudzai from doing so, her fears, her nervousness of being engulfed in her new life to a point of no return, which in a way is still growing up (and why the book itself is a bildungsromane too). Getting an education is a constant fight, not just a filter to pass through to get to a good outcome because education has its successes and its failures.