By Otman Boukhzar
By Otman Boukhzar
Fez – No one can deny the fact that the Moroccan education system is suffering from many problems. Teachers and students have always expressed resentment and frustration due to the successive failure of reforms that have been launched by the Ministry of Education to improve the quality of schooling in Morocco.
Regrettably, all the introduced reforms have proved to be a fiasco. This has deepened sorrow and disappointment among Moroccans. Some people have lost hope waiting for the education system to show progress. Most commentators tend to attribute the deplorable quality of the Moroccan Education system to the unwillingness of the ministry to launch real reforms, to the adopted methodologies, to the lack of resources, to the poor quality of teachers’ training, etc. While all of are valid reasons behind the problems facing our education system, they do not, however, touch the crux of the illness of this education system.
The real issue of our education system is not a crisis of resources, teachers, material, methodology, but rather it is a crisis of significance. That is, it is no longer a question of what methodology to adopt, what skills should teachers impart to the students or what material should be used; instead, the real issue is how to make the methodology significant to students, how to create teachers who make the learning process meaningful for the students, how to select material that makes sense to the students, and how to make students cherish their leaning. The problem of significance is far more serious than that of methodology, resources, training and the like. It would not be an exaggeration to say that most students hate coming to schools; and when they come, they do not do so with the intention of learning. More than that, students pray to god not to help them in their learning but for the teacher to be absent. The number of dropouts has markedly increased because students are not able to find themselves in an education system which has no meaning for them. This shows that our students are incapable of finding significance in their education.
In Morocco, education has no relevance and meaning to students anymore. The teaching that is taking place is cut off from the real life of the students. In other words, most material and readings assigned to students are irrelevant to their life and thus insignificant to them. Therefore, the significant problem is the main reason behind the pervasive spread of cheating in exams. Nowadays, students are not learning for the sake of learning but to look for easy shortcuts to get high marks with less effort. This has led to plagiarism and cheating in exams. Instead of learning to develop their skills, students have started thinking of developing tricks to outsmart their teachers in exams. The scandal of the last Baccalaureate exams is a living example of the crisis of significance. Still, students are not to blame for the current situation of the Moroccan education system, since the institutions created for their learning have failed to cater to their needs and create a propitious and meaningful environment for them.
In his video “A portal to media Literacy” (2008) and Article “Anti-teaching: Confronting the crisis of significance” (2010), Michael Wesch has attempted to capture this crisis of significance and the gap that exists between what students want to learn and what they find in schools. Michal Wesch (2010, p.5) insightfully declared that, “The most significant problem with education today is the problem of significance itself.” In these works, Wesch has provided an insightful vision of how education should be reformed to cater to the needs of students and help develop students who are actively engaged in creating meaning and significance for their own learning. This type of learning aims at empowering students to become critical thinkers, too. More than that, in such type of education, students do not only link their learning with their immediate environment, but they can also extend their learning to address global issues.
The kind of teaching Michael Wesch advocates is the so-called “Anti-teaching,” because for him teaching can be a hindrance to learning. In this philosophy of teaching and learning Wesch argues that the structure of our classrooms is the first cause of the significance crisis. These classrooms are designed in such a way that implies that learning is all about acquiring new information and that all that students have to do is to follow along, i.e., they should not debate, discuss or critique the information provided by teachers. The traditional assumptions of learning are no longer valid in the new culture of Media. Information is not only found on papers; rather, it traverses through time and space. Just think of Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia, Facebook, to cite a few. Therefore, education should aim at developing students who are able to create and produce information, not merely acquirers and receivers of information in a world characterized by unprecedented technological changes.
It has become evident that media have redefined the traditional assumptions of the all teaching components, namely the teacher, learner, methodology, content, and even assessment. This is so because teacher is no longer the provider of knowledge in a media-based world where information is floating everywhere and anytime in the air. The learner role has changed, too. S/he is no longer a passive recipient of information. In terms of methodology teachers no longer abide by print Textbook as the only source of learning; rather they take recourse to more authentic materials that are from real-world, mostly visual and electronic. Content is available increasingly through the internet, unlike in the past when it was available solely in print. The type of assessment which characterizes our education is to a large extent summative (a pass or fail type of assessment). Such type of assessment does not create lifelong, but rather it develops exam-long learners.
Assessment is a very important aspect of learning; hence it should be geared around the needs of students, too. Peer-assessment and self- assessment should be encouraged in our education so that we can make the learning significant to the learners. Last but not least, though the field of education has witnessed many changes and fluctuations recently, research has provided ample evidence that students have not been able to find significance in what they learn. This crisis stems primarily from the inability of education to adapt to the needs of students and create learning experiences that are directly linked to their lives in a world marked by drastic changes in media. With this being said, it is high time we start designing courses and changing our educational philosophy in recognition of these changes in media and develop meaningful ways of learning that allow students to go beyond new media as an entertainment to use it as a powerful tool to learn. The type of education that we should aspire for is the one which can develop educable students, not merely educated students, that is to say, students who are media literate and equipped with all critical skills to thrive in the media world of today as well as to adapt to the media and job market of tomorrow. Only then would we be able to bring back significance to our classrooms and would the crisis of significance wither away.
Wesch, M. (2010). Anti-teaching: Confronting the crisis of significance. Education Canada, vol 48 (2) retrieved from http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada
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