Teacher

Why The Teaching Profession Is Not For Low Achievers in Morocco.

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“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.

Reading Several Books At Once.

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STUCK!

“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…

A Stuck Reader

Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts! 

You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.

Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.

Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:

                • Do not read several books at once:

Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.

What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.

(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)

After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.

  • Do not mix languages:

If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!

  • Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.

  • Prioritize:

Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.

  •  “Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:

 If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?

  • Use a timeline:

A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.

  •  Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:

Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!

  • Real readers love challenges:

Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!

  • Join Goodreads.com

Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.

This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section. 

Happy reading, everyone!

Continue Studying or Start Working?

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A friend who was in a dilemma has recently contacted me. She didn’t know whether to continue studying for a Ph.D or start working.  “I’m really tired of studying” she explained.

I actually understand how burnt-out students can be after studying for 17 years straight. Nonetheless, I also know that working can be even more difficult and challenging. Actually, and from my own experience, I’ve come to notice that work, especially in a field as challenging as teaching, can be a lot more demanding and nerve-racking than studying.

Therefore, I felt I wasn’t in a good position to give any piece of advice on the spot. That’s why I’ve been thinking of my friend’s situation since she mentioned it. And honestly, the more I thought about it, the more convinced of the importance of studying over getting a job I got, especially for her case where she has her family’s support.

Now, I think that I have come to a clearer vision of what should be done in such a situation. Hereafter, I advance some of the reasons why I think that continuing is a much wiser decision than getting a job.

  • Getting a job is not going on a picnic:

My friend wants to become a teacher. Being a teacher myself, I just happen to have tasted the pain of this profession. Therefore, I know that teaching is one of the most difficult jobs out there. It’s not as easy as many people imagine. We don’t get holidays all year long. We can’t not show up whenever we want. We don’t get paid when we’re on strikes (Contrary to the myth everyone seems to believe), we have the biggest responsibility in the world; EDUCATING THE NATION! We have very tight schedules and we have to deal with every kid his/her way. We’re supposed to be educators, parents, psychologists, actors…briefly, we’re supposed to be everyone else! And this is just a glimpse of the challenges teachers face on a daily basis. Still think we’re over-paid?

  • Nothing beats a PhD:

As far as I’m concerned, I think that getting  a Ph.D. degree, or any degree higher than the one one is currently holding, is the best thing that can happen to anyone. Of course there are many good things in life, but  progressing in one’s studies has a special taste and flavor to it. The sense of fulfillment and the boost in self-esteem are actually valuable assets in anyone’s life. I’m not saying people will exclusively be happy if they get high degrees, but this is undoubtedly one of the things that would contribute to making me a happier person. Moreover, the opportunities one can get after getting a PhD are far more important and promising than those a person without a high degree can get. Think of all the job positions you’d fit for as your employability increases significantly if you are a PhD holder.

  • Pain is better than regret:

Getting a PhD is PAINFUL. However, as a person who’s dying to continue his studies but can’t BECAUSE of his job. All I can say is that stopping one’s studies for the sake of a work position when you’re not financially dependent on that job is an “intellectual suicide.” Why would anyone ruin their future for a career that they may or may not like? Why take the risk of stopping one’s progress for a low salary? If you get a job and can’t continue your studies, regret will be ravenously eating you inside! Don’t fall for this trap!

All in all, these are just some reasons why I think people should opt for a PhD if they can. I thought I’d get a job to secure a living and then continue my studies. However, the government and universities made it almost impossible for teachers to continue our studies. Now I do regret not having continued my studies and I’d do anything to undo this mistake. Anyone got a time machine, please?

Class Photo

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Class Photo

With my students during the end of the school year party.

Why is Education Tomorrow’s Wealth?

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In case you’re having any doubts, a quick look at all the places where poverty has a powerful hold will eventually make it clear that poverty and illiteracy are inseparable. Actually, illiteracy is poverty’s stronghold and faithful realm where all kinds of indecency, crimes and even terrorism flourish. Therefore, governments, especially in third world countries, must stop looking for “lame” excuses to justify the high illiteracy  and low college graduates rates in their countries. Third world countries must be ready for effective and ferocious wars on ignorance, instead.

Why should I pursue higher education?

Honestly, convincing people that education creates fortune is one of the hardest endeavors one can attempt to take. The fact that there is usually a huge gap between the level of education of the workforce and their paychecks makes it difficult to be convincing. Therefore, many people might end up questioning the purpose behind education and might ask: “Why bother to get a decent education when I can start a career at a young age and earn money?”

Actually, I get this a lot. As a teacher, many of my students question the necessity of education. They usually ask the following questions: “Our neighbor never went to school and he’s well-off, so why should I get good grades? Why should I study hard? Why should I get an education in the first place?”

In my defense, I tell my students that there might be rich people who have never been to school, but: “Can those people use a computer? Can they speak different languages to interact with people from different cultures and different parts of the world? Can they write and/or read a letter? Can they use a smartphone? Can they enjoy a foreign movie or song? Can they think critically about their lives and the world around them? Can they enjoy reading books?”

Of course, my students’  answer to all of these questions is a shy “No.” This is usually how I lay the ground to my subsequent explanation which I am willing to share with you all in this post.

How does education create fortune?

Technology has nowadays shifted how we see and interact with the world. The Internet, Capitalism and Globalization have altered what corporations seek in their employees to a big extent. In other words, muscles won’t secure you a good position, skills will. Therefore, it’s become indispensable for everyone to seek higher education, learn languages and have great computing skills. The market no longer tolerates incompetence, especially during the current international financial crisis. Positions have become a rarity, and competition has become fiercer than ever.

Looking at the issue from a different perspective, one can see that education plays a key role in broadening people’s intellectual horizons, empowering them (especially women), and improving their standards of living. Furthermore, education is the answer to many of our social problems in third world countries. For example, countries that have the best educational systems (Japan for example) have the lowest domestic violence rates, coincidence?

Moreover, education is undoubtedly the real renewable resource that nations should focus on for a brighter future for their nations.  This is what the Japanese did, and it paid off really well!

So, back to the main question now, “How does education create fortune?”

Below is a list of points that might answer this question:

  • People with a college degree have better chances to land in better positions and earn more money than people with no education.
  • A better position doesn’t mean more earnings only, but social security and health insurance as well.
  • Higher education is still free in Morocco, so students won’t have to shoulder the burden of refunding huge student loans.
  • Moroccan universities have started many professional B.As and M.As and started offering management classes even for literary studies’ students.
  • People with college degrees enjoy more opportunities for ongoing professional development.

For more details check this link: “Education Pays, The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society

But education costs a lot!

“We’re doing our best but education costs a lot.” This is a typical excuse given by many governments to justify the decay in their educational systems. This, of course, is one of the excuses that no one should accept, anymore. The primary reason we shouldn’t accept this excuse is because it’s FALSE! It just needs a government with long-term visions to understand that education  will eventually cost a lot LESS than ignorance.

Building schools, hiring competent teachers, preparing adequate infrastructures will inevitably cost considerable amounts of money. Nonetheless, the fruits will quickly show up and the nation will benefit from investing in minds.  So, no development shall take place unless we’re aware that knowledge and education are tomorrow’s wealth. We shouldn’t expect miracles unless we’re truly willing to get engaged and invest in education. This is the only way to secure a bright future for the society, culture and economy of our nation.