By Abdellah Zbir
By Abdellah Zbir
Morocco World News
Chicago, July 5, 2013
The interest in education was always dominant in human societies, as teaching is thought to be “the second oldest profession” or activity in the history of mankind. The reason is simple: humans need to construct their knowledge of their surroundings and to comprehend the mysteries of their living. They need substantive knowledge to ensure awareness of who they are and what constitutes their lives. For the great philosopher, Plato, Education “rests on the four moral principles of wisdom, virtue, service, and leadership.” Essential to the success and growth of our education, is our commitment to Plato’s principles and the integration of the principles in our schooling structure.
Recently, tension is rising because of the challenges facing our schools and the debate on its efficacy and productivity is toping the current academic agendas. The extensive controversies in social media reflect a growing tension and growing sensitivity. Today, negative academic occurrences, such as cheating, put our schooling system in jeopardy. The negative occurrences are caused by our inability to understand education in its larger scope and our failure to see beyond technicalities and practicalities.
For years and years, we have been limiting our choices to a concentration on certain subjects such as math, science and languages. These choices prevent us from connecting our students to the competitive world outside and prevent them from engaging in other challenging fields of knowledge. What is more alarming, is the attention that is falsely placed on regularities and governing policies. Unfortunately, this directive denies us a broaden understanding of what can work and what can not in the world of education.
Now, the pain is unbearable and our hearts are wounded to see our classrooms collapsing and our kids expressing and reflecting heavy dose of negativity. Today, we are challenged in our choices and the only hope we have is our ability to model different interpretations of education. Here, I recall two men and one place.
In his address, District Must Look Beyond Test Scores, at a Chamber of Commerce in Federal Way, Washington, Superintendent Rob Neu talked to a packed crowd about change and reform. In the field of education, attention should be shifted from a traditional educational philosophy that allows so called core subjects such as math and science to be core dominant to a philosophy that highly focus beyond core academics and embrace art, sport, and off-campus based extracurricular activities.“I’m not suggesting core academics are not important[…]What I am suggesting is that we need to broaden our focus of measurement and accountability of what American education thought to be.” His words opened the door for his audience to seek new directives and new initiatives for teaching and learning.
His main concern was to give a chance to all students. “All means each child” should benefit to a maximal limit from all various possibilities that the schooling system may offer so the spirit of creativity, innovation and enterprise can keep driving what he called the world’s economic engine.”
Superintendent Neu tried to specify an outline for schools to align its curricula, vertically and horizontally, with new standards. Standards that can enable students of multiple opportunities and multiple ways to demonstrate mastery.” For him, “The days of teach, test and forget are over.” Schools should be in a position to operate in a free and decentralized academic climate. A climate wherein the different experiences are shared and the different thoughts are channeled. A climate wherein every voice is heard and every idea is appreciated, praised and supported. A climate where the belief is that a school is not this class or that man, rather, it is every class and every man.
Here my mind brings me to a place I still emotionally belong to and to a man I still admire and praise most. Al-Hadi School of Accelerative Learning is a private Islamic School, situated in Southwest Houston, Texas. On January 9th, 1996, the school opened its doors with a center-based environment for children aged 3-6 years old. As work progressed, the school was ready to accept elementary students. In 2001, the school was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, one of the most privileged accrediting agencies in America.
For me, Al-Hadi was more than a school and more than a building. It was a story where every face sees beyond its walls endless opportunities of development. It was moments of reflections and comparative thinking. It was also a place where a man could model a perfect management and a perfect leadership. This man was the Principal of Al-Hadi School, Mr. Sami Hijazi. His words and talks, most of the times in the hallways, chose to settle in the deepest corners of my heart and refused to leave my memory to infinity. He said it once and I will say it forever: “Every student is unique in his physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional needs and attribute.” Of course, this trend may be a common conclusion among educators. However, bringing theoretical understanding into a reality is what matters. For this devoted man, it mattered more and more.
The philosophy and style of leadership of Mr. Rob Neu and Mr. Sami Hijazi are highly valuable and tell it all. Classrooms are built literally and figuratively to be our homes. From a greeting in the morning to a smiley face in the evening, a journey of knowledge should occupy the time and space of our days. Within our schools’ walls, bridges of connections should be built among all of us; administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members, so the confidence of our kids can grow in their strength and in their ability to learn and move forward. This is how our schools should be thought of, and this is how our schools should be. Kids who can learn under a similar influence of this great leadership can only hope for a brighter future. Do our kids have this hope?
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