By Zouhir Chbakou
By Zouhir Chbakou
Morocco World News
Rabat, July 4, 2013
Nowadays, classrooms are full of irrelevant behaviors toward education. For example, the classes in Moroccan schools suffer from using electronic devices such as texting, playing games, surfing the internet, and listening to music. Not to mention, irrelevant reading, drawing, laughing with classmates, disrespecting teachers, sleeping in class, clowning around, coming late to class, idleness, copying homework or even not doing homework. But, the most unacceptable behavior in classroom, according to many teachers, is having disruptive conversation with classmates.
Talking in class is a problematic phenomenon affecting the education in Morocco and other countries. Without a doubt, everyone has contributed to, witnessed, or has been bothered by this occurrence. The irony is that, for decades and with waves of students enrolling every year in Moroccan schools, every student still goes through this phenomenon; it is living in our classes, as a cancer in our brain. In Elementary school, teachers somehow manage to control the classes because kids respect, if not fear, their teachers. In middle school, teachers control and reprimand the students and then they sometimes behave correctly at that time. High school, this troublesome behavior starts to become fatiguing or even worse, but still, the actions are excused by their hormonal changes. The nub of the problem lies on university students where small chitchat by few causes a major disturbance. This contagious disease is affecting the education in Morocco. Notwithstanding the difficulties, psycho-sociologists and other responsible researchers, with the help of the administrations, can heal our classes academically in Morocco.
My personal experience in university triggered the urge to highlight this phenomenon. I observed that my Professors asked students to be quiet at least 5 times every two hours, or 47.5 times per week. 19 hours/week is the average number of hours that university students study during a semester. Assuming, sometimes, students get quiet after this request. Besides, professors speak with anguished voice caused by hubbub in class. These irritating conditions disappoint professors and cause apathetic emotions towards teaching. It becomes more like a job to pay the bills rather than teaching passionately for noble reasons. Furthermore, professors spend less effort on bringing more useful tools, materials and documents to their subjects.
Many studies and research have tackled this subject and came with striking results. Firstly, a study done by University of Massachusetts, Amherst, reveals that by letting students participate in setting classroom rules, you can reduce a significant amount of disruptive behaviors. “Leaving some classroom policies open for students to decide or giving students some choices within prescribed limits is likely to be appreciated. For example, an instructor might tell students he cannot tolerate talking during his lectures, but can live with students drinking a Coke or munching on a candy bar”, explains Prof. Sorcinelli from Massachusetts University. Consequently, feedback from students catches their attention and attracts them to get involved in class. In other words, teachers should ask students whether they liked the lecture or not, what they would like to know about the material provided for the lecture and so on.
Secondly, recent studies made by Macquarie University in Australia on troublesome classroom behavior, discovered that the percentage of behavioral difficulties in classrooms increase as the students grow up from the early years to adolescence (66% of troublesome behavior students are boys). Also, the same studies show that around 25% of available time in the classroom is spent on managing bad behavior. This significant amount of time wasted in classroom explains our needs for an urgent solution.
However, foreign solutions will not completely solve the problem in Morocco unless if many cultural differences are considered. An American teacher living and teaching in Morocco stated, “I do not think that teachers find the right balance between strict and fun here. There has to be that balance in order to build a bond with your student without that bond the learning process can be strained.” Moroccan students often confuse or abuse fun in classrooms, whether they laugh more or they put the lesson out of their minds and concentrate on fun more. In addition, cultural learning styles differ from one country to another. This means, the solutions for talking in class should be studied and solved by researchers with academic knowledge of the Moroccan culture.
Teachers and the Moroccan educational administrations acknowledge the problem in Moroccan classrooms and may know solutions given by other studies and researches, but what they lack is a serious study of that phenomenon, including cultural learning styles in Moroccan classrooms to come up with practical ideas, whether by creating a special class with a program to teach students how to behave in class or by updating the pedagogical program in order to discern this troublesome classroom behavior.
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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