By Houda El Mouatassim
By Houda El Mouatassim
Morocco World News
Marrakesh, October 5, 2012
Being a high school teacher in Morocco is different than being a teacher in any other level of schooling, for we, as teachers, have to teach students from different orientations and classifications. To better clarify the latter point, let me give you a clear description of how this classification works: before finishing middle school, students are asked to fill in some orientation sheets depending on their preference so that, once in high school, they are categorized as Science or Art students. After spending the two first years of high school categorized as such, another classification comes to surface and is as follows: Science students choose to either major in Physical Sciences or Life and Earth Sciences, while Art students choose between majoring in Human Sciences or Literature.
Hearing the names of these classifications will probably give you the wrong idea about what school subjects are taught in every major. Surprisingly enough, all students in all the majors study the same school subjects, expect for Art students who do not study Physics. The only two differences between the majors are the coefficient of the school subject and how many hours are taught in each school subject every week.
Thus, Art students who have obviously no interest whatsoever in Maths and Science, nor can they understand it for that matter, have to study it and take exams in it. And so is the case for Science students who would rather spend their time studying anything but history and geography, but cannot help it since it is compulsory, just like all the school subjects for every major in all Moroccan high schools.
This seemingly important classification only confuses students and they usually end up choosing one major over the other just because their friends chose it or simply do so haphazardly. This problem does not show when teaching Science classes, for the latter are usually good at most subjects even if they do not like them all. Most of them have enough perseverance and desire to learn, hence excel at them. Compared with Art students, the majority of Science students are more disciplined and obtain good marks in both scientific school subjects and literature ones.
The issue of lost, confused and weak students surfaces when dealing with Arts students, either in the first year or second year of high school. Teachers have to deal everyday with undisciplined students who have long lost any desire in making efforts when it comes to their studies. This passivism is reflected in both their behavior inside the classroom and evaluation throughout the year. Whenever a teacher starts a class with Art students, he or she knows that they will either face complete rebellion or total silence, both indicating the absence of a will to study or even grains of tries that would excite the teacher and drive them towards working with more energy.
There is another problem that emerges when dealing with most Art students, which is related to their level of intelligence when it comes to understanding and reacting to the lessons of any subject matter at hand. All teachers, without an exception, always complain from the very low level of Art students. Aren’t they supposed to be good at least at history and geography, Islamic Education, and Arabic which are all taught in their mother tongue and do not require much of intelligence but a bit of perseverance in learning and remembering the lessons that had been explained over and over again by their teachers? If these students are not even good at these school subjects, how are they supposed to study philosophy which requires an intelligent and open mind? How are they supposed to learn French and English- or Spanish and German in some high schools- in a time where they still have issues concerning basic rules of classical Arabic?
If this kind of students do not belong in schools, which is definitely not something to be ashamed of, why don’t we help them in their orientation and leave room for them to express themselves and talk about what interests them the most, since it obviously is not school life? Why don’t we show them that they have options, that they can learn crafts or skills that can help them build their careers instead of attending classes where their bodies are the only ones present, while their minds are left in a place where they are not used anymore? Why do we, as teachers, have to suffer every time we step inside an Art class knowing that we are not going to see the fruits of our efforts anytime soon?
Students’ orientation needs to be reconsidered, bearing in mind the real needs and preferences of the students, giving them more options to choose from and not limit their choice in few majors that neither interest nor suit them!
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