The Tough Questions

We met with four different English classes today. For two of the classes it was their first year speaking English. You cannot imagine the proficiency of the conversational skills after only one year. America is way behind in our methodology of teaching foreign language. The students here are immersed in the language and they practice by having conversations and assignments dealing with real issues such as pollution, citizenship, equality, etc. It is truly impressive how quickly they acquire English which, as I said before, is their forth language. It puts us to shame. Also ALL students here take physics beginning in sixth grade until they graduate. They also take math, geography, philosophy, classical Arabic (there are several different dialects and since people cannot understand the different dialects everyone must learn the classical form), English, French, etc. for a total of eight classes daily. The rigor of their classes far exceeds what we are doing.

Students do not have jobs outside of school. When they are not in school much of their time is spent studying because your score on the national exam determines whether you go to college or not. (That is not to say that they do not enjoy extracurricular activities. They are video game and Facebook junkies just like students in the U.S. and many are involved in sports.)

For people who do not go to college jobs are very limited and do not pay enough to support a family comfortably. College here is free to everyone but they are very selective and it is your test score that means everything.

Here are some of the tough questions that were asked today by the first year English students:
Why do you hate Islam and Muslims? (Sad to think that these kids believe an entire country hates them)
Why do Americans have so many emotional problems? (This student got this idea from watching MTV reality shows-scary to think that teens throughout the world are basing their opinion of us on the “high quality” programming of MTV)
What do you think about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? You started a war, destroyed a country, and say that it was a mistake! (ouch!)
Do you have gangsters? 🙂 He meant gangs and believed that the Bloods and Crips are in all American schools.

Isn’t the media doing a great job portraying America!

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These are pictures of the Hassan II high school of about 2000 students. The campus is made of about six buildings like the one you see. The other rooms are the science classrooms! This highs bool has 12 working microscopes and most of them date back to 1969! P.S. All students have to buy all of their own textbooks!

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This is a rural public school in the mountains above Beni Mellal.

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These two pictures are to give you a sense of the beauty that is here. However the first picture shows what happens in many developing countries that do not have a system for waste disposal…garbage everywhere.

In response To Kathy’s post about wearing veils, it is not necessary in Morocco. They are extremely accepting of other people and I have seen women in short skirts and tank tops while other woman are fully covered with only their eyes visible. Sometimes these two styles are seen walking together. I did learn that the white lab coat uniform that the girls wear is to keep cleavage, bellies, and fannies from showing! Sounds like a great idea for America, sorry girls!

Had a very American dinner of roast beef and potatoes tonight and it was a perfect taste of home. Missing everyone including all of my kids at home and at work!

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3 Comments

  1. John Clark

    Obviously there is a difference between getting an education and getting through school.

  2. Stephanie Fletcher

    So glad to see all of the wonderful pictures and learn about your experience in Morocco! I’m so happy you’re having a great time and learning lots:)

  3. Liz Breese

    Stephanie,

    I love the window you’re opening up for all of your followers into education and life in Morocco.

    I have one simple question and one not-so-simple question:

    Is instruction in non-language classes conducted in French or Arabic? Does this vary by school? It would be my guess that private/urban schools would tend toward French and public/rural schools would tend toward Arabic. I know that the linguistic legacy of colonialism is different in different locations, and I wonder how it plays out in Morocco.

    Now more complicated — How are the biological sciences taught there? Are there debates about how and what to teach in science classes, like the kind that sometimes flare up in the U.S. about creationism/evolution, when life starts, etc? How do teachers and the education system handle those areas of science that brush up against (or clash with) religious teachings?

    Thanks for your stories!
    Liz Breese

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