“Controversial” is the least I can say about the article my colleague Mr. Omar Bihmidine published on the website of Levant TV two days ago. The article in question claims that the teaching profession in Morocco is reserved for low achievers only, while higher achievers choose different paths such as medicine and engineering.
While some of the observations Mr. Bihmidine makes hold true, his analysis of why people choose to become teachers remains fallacious and very superficial. I think that the problem with the article is that Mr. Bihmidine is confused between what makes some university graduates opt for the teaching profession, and the shocking deplorable situation of the profession in Morocco. As a matter of fact, the article talks about many instances of injustice that teachers face in Morocco. However, linking that to academic achievement remains a vague claim that needs to be supported by real and empirical evidence. For instance, it is untrue to say that high achievers are aware that “their achievements, diligence, distinguishing grades, excellence, mastery of languages and production will never be credited, recognized, acclaimed and admitted inside the four walls of the classroom,” for the reasons discussed below.
I disagree with Mr. Bihmidine’s article for five reasons. First, most university students who opt for teaching do not realize how demanding the profession is before they actually start teaching. Second, most of these students come from underprivileged poor families, so they need to get a job as soon as possible to loosen the financial grip suffocating their families, and in many cases, to be able to financially support their families. Third, not everybody can afford to go to medical school or to study engineering in Morocco. Even if they are high achievers, they also need to be well-off to attend medical school. Fourth, the worrying lack of guidance and orientation in our schools contributes to the status quo. For example, in my own case, I never knew I had other options after I got my Baccalaureate, but to go to college. I didn’t know there were other institutes where one could study media or tourism, etc. Fifth, only students with the best marks (high achievers) can become teachers in Morocco. The selection process is very rigorous and meticulous. In fact, there are countless exams and teaching practicums that one has to undertake before he or she can become a teacher.
Another issue that seems to have escaped Mr. Bihmidine’s analysis is that of the different streams available at our universities. Mr. Bihmidine seems to make no distinction between literary and scientific streams. How is a student with a major in history supposed to become a doctor? And how is a student with a degree in Arabic supposed to become an engineer? Teaching is probably the only available path to employment in Morocco for certain degrees such as Arabic, history, Islamic Studies, etc.
In addition, Mr. Bihmidine seems to have disregarded the fact that there actually are people who go for teaching because they LOVE it, and because they feel that they make a difference in the lives of our offspring. The reasons are not always related to money, prestige, or grades!
Of course, other people can come up with other reasons, but the crux of the matter is that the erroneous view provided in Mr. Bihmidine’s article doesn’t reflect the reality of things. To put it simply, teachers have always been the elite of our universities, and they continue to be so.
After an exhausting year in the classroom, teachers and students alike look forward to a rewarding end of the year. This explains the amount of end-of-year parties that take place almost in every school across the country. In their turn, my students insisted that we have one.
Although I’m not a party person, I found myself inclined to say yes to my students’ request. “These students have 9 other teachers and they chose YOU to have the party with even though English is not as important as Arabic, French or Math. They must love you.” I told myself. Therefore, I attended their party and I enjoyed it to the fullest.
I know all of my students come from very disadvantaged backgrounds. So, the first eye-catching thing about this party was the efforts that the students exerted in the making of the event. Unlike other classes, this particular class brought a really good quality cake that was baked especially for this occasion, they even had the name of their class on it. SCORE!
This party, as humble as it was, made me see things I never saw in my students, and it made them see things they never saw in their teacher. We laughed, danced, sang, told jokes and anecdotes. The students mocked some teachers at our school and I mocked some of them (students). We all bursted out of laughter at the funny stuff we had to share.
After all of the fun we had, there was no escape from facing the ugly and sad moment of moment of saying goodbye. Being a sensitive person, I tend to hate goodbyes as I can’t handle them and this might be the reason why I hate getting attached to people. However, we sometimes can’t choose whether or not to get attached to people. Sometimes, we have to get attached because it’s no longer a matter of choice. We just HAVE TO, and these relationships we build with people are the most difficult to end. This was a very emotional moment for all of us. I made them line up, got them to be quiet in my teacher-like tone, and started a small speech, I turned around the moment I felt I could no longer contain my tears, but my squeaky voice gave it away. Then, with a familiar, inquisitive voice one of my students asked: “Are you crying, teacher?” I faced them to find that they were all about to cry, too. So, I collected myself and told them how much I loved them and they just turned around me and started chanting: “Teacher! Teacher! Teacher!…”
I love my students ❤