By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, April 07, 2013
Irrespective of the countless challenges that are still facing the Moroccan education system, no one can deny that many teachers have done their utmost to take part in the previous reforms, particularly the Emergency Plan (2009-2012). Regardless of the government’s corrupt policies to infect education, so many other teachers, including diligent ones, still go astray at many points. In particular, one of the points is that many teachers have fallen into the trap of quantity, which they unfortunately believe is the key to their teaching success.
Among the silly questions I am often asked are: Do you take part in extra-curricular activities? Do you practically take your students beyond the classroom? When asked these questions, I always thought as though extra-curricular activities, extra hours and going beyond the classroom sufficed to discard traditional teaching and help move our education system forward.
Many teachers have accompanied their students beyond the classroom, have led them to take part in competitions outside the school, and have put into practice nearly all the things they read about with regard to competency-based approach, task-based approach and standards-based approach teaching. Yet still, the system is as deplorable today as it was decades ago. In fact, education in Moroccan public schools is going from bad to worse.
I am not necessarily downplaying Moroccan teachers’ efforts to heal the scars left by the deplorable education system. But, I am a man who learns by seeing and who believes by seeing. Or simply put, I believe it when I see it. Currently, despite the great efforts teacher trainers are making in training centers to equip novice teachers with the necessary tools to enable them to best serve the teaching profession, these efforts have not changed anything nor have they earned us a respectable ranking in UNESCO’s rankings of the world’s best education systems.
Supervisors, inspectors, teacher trainers, and many others who will criticize this article must prove to us the efficacy of what they have preached everywhere in Morocco. Otherwise, they would only be making much ado about nothing.
Arguably it is a stretch to compare Morocco’s education system with that of Finland, but the comparison helps to better illustrate my point. Finnish schools are the only schools in the world where students spend little time, where they do little homework and where tests are few and far between. Yet, Finland has been leading the world’s best education systems over the last forty years. Thus, the secret lies not in extra hours, extra-curricular activities, or beyond the classroom, but in focusing on quality.
Today, most Moroccan teachers ask about the textbooks they use, the approaches they adopt or adapt to, the dwindling level of students, what they teach, how they teach, the inspectors’ grading, and their number of working hours. But, the often unasked, real questions are: Have students learned anything? And have students been equipped with the necessary skills to learn and learn how to learn?
Whenever someone asks me how I teach, I rarely have a ready response at my disposal because the question whether students learn or not, for me, matters more than the question about how I teach or what steps I follow in teaching. The success of students is the sole criterion by which teachers should be judged, not their teaching materials or the amount of hours that they dedicate to their students. What is the use of a well-organized lesson delivered by a master teacher if students learn very little?
“Don’t ask me how I teach or what language points I am currently teaching”, I tell my colleagues. Rather, blame me if my students fail to learn what I teach them. Or ask me if my students are improving or lagging behind. The problem is that the more we teach students, the more they lose interest in what we teach them. The longer we speak in class, the more we bore them. The more we add extra hours, the more we de-motivate them. And the more quizzes we administer, the more stress and fear of failure we inflict upon them. As put by Harvard education specialist, Tony Wagner, “The longer kids are in school, the less motivated they become”.
Another serious problem is that most Moroccan teachers produce nothing in their specialty. More serious is the fact that these teachers consider that what they know about their specialty is merely their source of income. However, with the advent of the Internet, where all students can google the information they need, teachers must feel powerless. Their remaining strength is to show students what to do with what they know. Yet, the crux of the matter is that teachers themselves do nothing with what they know. This is why most students learn and then forget what they learn. And the same thing is true of teachers who too learn how to teach and then forget.
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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