Our first school visit was wonderful. We watched an English class that had at least 30 students. We were amazed at how respectful the students were not only to the teacher but to each other! When the class ended they treated us like rock stars. They asked for pictures and wanted to talk to all of us, they sang to us and waved to us as we left. We were very likely the first Americans that they had ever met. It was a very strange but flattering experience.
Interestingly, many public school teachers are on strike today. They are fighting for smaller class sizes and better working conditions…same issues no matter where you teach.
Our second visit was to a private school which is known as the best in the country. The students from this school consistently receive the top scores on the nationsl exams. That being said the school is extremely selective of the students who are accepted and they invest heavily in teacher training. The school is so focused on scores that when you first walk in the student exam scores are posted on the bulletin board. In addition, all teachers are expected to use a significant amount of technology in the class and if you cannot then you are asked to leave.
This afternoon we met with the district school inspector. After all the flattery was done he asked us for our professional opinions regarding how to improve their educational system. Well don’t ask if you don’t want to hear the answer. I jumped right into the fire and told him that having 40 students in a class was not the best way to enhance learning and another teacher said that standardized tests were a tool good only for the politicians and certainly not for education. We were given the standard responses and then told it was time for us to leave. Same issues and same responses all over the world.
We ended our day with a visit to the Hassan II Mosque which was built in 1989 after the king died. Every Moroccan was asked to contribute to its construction. The pictures do not do it justice as it is one of the most spectacular buildings that I have seen. We then strolled along the ocean walkway of Casablanca wishing that I could stay there longer and enjoy the cosmopolitan flair of the area.
Tomorrow I am finally on my way to Benimellal to get back into the classroom and meet the host teacher and her students.
The Hassan II Mosque- beautiful
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