By Fouzia Toury
By Fouzia Toury
Morocco World News
Casablanca, October 26, 2012
My story with Nelson Mandela started when I introduced some famous people to my students. I was attempting to develop my students’ communication skills through the common question: “Who is this?” The activity was so simple. As beginners my students had to distinguish between the way we ask about people and the way we ask about objects. Students worked in pairs on an activity with the use of different pictures of famous people.
Amazingly, they managed to know all the Indian actors and football players, but once I gave them the picture of Nelson Mandela, no one could identify him. Why didn’t students of the 3rd grade of the middle school know that person? Who is to blame? Is it me, Nelson Mandela, the students, the parents, the TV or the quality of education system?
My students knew the footballers, because of the particular passion that Moroccans have for football. It is a universal language. Teenagers have to master this language in order to integrate into a universal club of fans who worship the game. Joining this club simply means having a social identity, and enjoying a feeling of belonging, regardless of who you are. Having general knowledge of this club and the most famous players matters a lot for these young teenagers. It allows them to be a part of a special world; that is of football and find possible keys to their quest of identity.
To easily know Indian actors is also due to the fact that my students are in love with Indian cinema. We know that this cinema has been welcomed in or society because of so many similarities with our culture. Parents find no harm in allowing their teenagers to watch Indian films. The subject matter is all about family, traditions, religion and pure love. This cinema also gives them a chance to intrude an illusionary world full of love, romance, passion and idealism. They are ardently attracted by the colorful sceneries, the beautiful T-Sari costumes, the tattooed hands with henna, the alluring dances and the stormy love stories that end with happy marriage ceremonies. All of these storylines are important ingredients of an escaping to a world free from any responsibility.
Yet, My students’ inability to recognize Nelson Mandela does not necessarily let us focus on the lack of the teaching materials and equipment, but rather on the absence of Soul from the education system; the soul to teach and learn, to give and take, to persevere and create, and to motivate and be motivated. As if everyone sees himself in a gloomy and dark hollow. Everyone believes that things have lost value and tomorrow is obscure.
My students could not answer me just because of their reluctances to research and to be curious and responsible. “What for?” they asked. “Why should I know Nelson Mandela? What’s the big deal?” These kinds of questions raise not only the problems of our deplorable education, but the future of our society as a whole.
Our society demands excellence, but its public education creates an average level of students or even less than that. If we don’t try to have a forward-looking vision of our future society and education, particularly setting the valuable goals, sharing the roles, involving both the students and the teachers, providing the adequate learning conditions, and enhancing positive attitudes, we can then claim our failure to make a difference.
Not knowing a person like Nelson Mandela as a student of the 3rd grade in the middle school demands great changes of the whole system, its content, objectives and its methods. Of course, educational changes always imply political changes. The ruling hands of our education system must stop making things foggier and gloomier, giving hope to those innocent students who ignore where they are and why they are crowdedly sitting in tables in front of a teacher who is waving with a picture of Nelson Mandela.