By Nabil Es-shaimi
By Nabil Es-shaimi
Morocco World News
Casablanca, March 9, 2012
When I first started reading an article called, “An Argument for a more formative approach to assessment in ELT in Morocco,” by Mr. Ouakrime, a professor of English literature at the University of Fez, especially after reading some quotes such as: “A student’s critical awareness of the purpose behind evaluation and the rationale behind the decisions made by teachers concerning his/her performance, is itself part of his/her education” (Cox, 1983 : 1) or “Use such evaluation to yield results to be used as feedback to participants in an educational program” (Sanders and Cunningham, 1973, Stake, 1967 and Cronbach et al, 1980), I told myself: “Why the hell am I not doing formative assessment?” Then I decided that , starting from next year, I will use the formative assessment as a way to urge students to exert more efforts in class on a daily basis, instead of them just waiting until they’re informed about the next test to go and revise their lessons. Formative assessment will be done in the form of short quizzes at the beginning of the sessions every once in a while. And, the mark that the students will get will be counted in the final mark as a way to compensate the hardworking students. Probably I won’t wait until next year to start; I’d rather start the system next week. I got another idea, “Why not let students correct each other’s papers right after we finish the quiz”; after all, it’s not about how much the students got in the test, it’s about how well the students mastered the lesson.
However, now that I’ve finished that whole article I found plenty of excuses not to conduct formative assessment, first of which I can state is the inconveniency of the classroom setting and the over-crowding of classrooms that most teachers in Morocco experience. It’s not that easy to implement such ideas in noisy classes where misbehaving students just wait for the opportunity to create chaos in class. Talking about implementing such ideas is easy, but doing it is just as hard as stone. One of the main requirements to do such assessments in Moroccan EFL classes is that students should be willing to learn; which is not the case with a large number of students in our classes. As a way out of this dilemma, I may try it once or twice with some classes and see if it works. Then, if so, I will start using it continuously and advise my colleagues to use it too.
Nevertheless, if I am to conduct formative assessments continuously in my classes, I have to print copies to almost 300 student every once in a while, and that means a whole budget that should be spared from my salary. Yes! My own salary. The Moroccan education system and administration does not provide teachers with a photocopying machine. The teacher has to print copies for students from his/her own pocket. Some teachers urge students at the beginning of the school year to bring along with their copybooks and course books fees for the photocopies. But, only few do so. The teacher finds himself/herself obliged to give copies only to those who paid the fees; the others just sit back and watch. So, as a way to start to encourage teachers to use formative assessment, the administration should put xerox machines at the teachers’ disposal, who should not use them for any personal reasons.
Also, to conduct a formative assessment appropriately, classes shouldn’t be overcrowded in order for the teacher to be able to provide each student feedback. As Wiggins (1997) put it: “people can’t learn without feedback. It’s not teaching that causes learning. Attempts by the learner to perform causes learning. Dependent upon the quality of the feedback and opportunity to use it”. So, we need small class sizes in order to provide quality feedback and for students to be able to use it.
What I am talking about needs a real budget to be spent by the Ministry of Education on the educational system; however, it wouldn’t be as big as the one that was spent on the emergency program to reform the educational system or on the Pedagogy of Integration. These attempts to reform the educational system that have deceived and failed teachers and all workers in the domain. The ministry should first try to find solutions to the deteriorated conditions in which teachers work. It should start to provide teachers with appropriate teaching conditions, from equipped classrooms according to the subject being taught to the facilitation of the means of transportation to and from their work place and home. Instead of looking for solutions to the system of education, find solutions to the problems that teachers face every day in their schools and they will do their best to perform well and raise a generation of intellectuals. I don’t understand why the ministry of education is appointing teachers from the north in the south and vice-versa or teachers from rural areas to city schools and vice-versa. Isn’t it more logical that a teacher will be most at ease and do his/her best in his/her own environment? Time has come for the ministry to reconsider the appointment issue of novice teachers. The teacher will perform best in a familiar context rather than an alien one, because it will take enormous time to adapt to the new environment; if he/she fails to do so, the teacher will feel depressed and instead of putting energy to teach well, it will be allocated to survive.
One more point that the ministry should take into consideration is to give teachers enough motivation to perform well, starting from a decent salary that would meet the growing costs of living, to prizes for pedagogical researches. And why not give grants to ‘teachers of the year’ at the level of the school, delegation, region and why not the country. Nothing works best to push someone to do well in his/her job than appreciation through a good salary. The ultimate motivator of people is money, no matter what values, beliefs or social and economic background one has. It’s the human-being’s natural motivator; that’s the ugly truth.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Teacher of English at a secondary school in Ain Harrouda, near Casablanca. He obtained a Bachelor of Art in English Literature at the University of Mohammed V, Rabat. He has TEFL certificate from The Regional Pedagogical Center of Tangier.(firstname.lastname@example.org)
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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