First, we were told to behave, stand in lines, sit in one chair in the class and never change it for the rest of the year , do our homework every day, and be quite. We were taught a few things in class, and we were punished for not understanding, not doing what we were told to do or for talking during the class. This was the definition I had for the word “School”.
Because I was top of my class, I was never punished, they told other kids that I was hard working, and that’s why I get by sometime if I don’t do my homework … I wasn’t hard working, it was just easier for me, and I got a lot of credits for getting « points » others might have worked harder for.
My classmates who were hyperactive got punished everyday for being they way they were, they were told that the fact they they have great energy is bad, so they were bad. And those who had trouble with memorising the multiplication table or had bad writing and linguistic skills were told they were stupid! I didn’t understand that … Most of them were smart for me, when we played games they quickly pick up on things, some of them were great at drawing and others were great friends ! I loved them and loved school at that time because of them ! Why were they “the bad kids”? Did the school give them what they needed? Did it give me what I needed?
We grow up and got to elementary, had a little more freedom and there was less « physical » punishment . We got a little bit more freedom to express ourselves, and because anger or disappointment, or even just the expectation of doing more and better, are things that were expressed physically and violently during primary school, one cannot expect something different to come out of the kids who went through such experiences. I saw kids destroying classrooms and being violent with teaches and with each other
Only a few cared about going to class, and to make it worse, even those were mostly interested just because they wanted good grades.
Did the school do anything about them? Most of them were expelled but does that solve the problem? Kicking them off the school and putting theme in the street! What did they expect them to become after that? By that time I was grown enough to notice that some kids had personal and emotional issues; whether it was with the family or anything else, without forgetting that it’s the age where kids turn into teenagers and we all know how critical that might be. And was there any consulting for kids? A psychologist? Of court not !
We were told that we can’t criticise or judge a teacher for his performance, we can’t even know if he or she is a good teacher or not. That on the table, no one even considered criticizing the things we were taught ! well .. at least I know most didn’t, but I did ! But at that time, what did I know ! Even if I said that the things they taught us in math in the first year are useless and the whole physiques and technologies book is full nonsense, they would say you will grow up and know how « important » it is . (I’m grown up and I want to burn those books)
We were told to write our lessons, keep our copybooks organised, memories everything as it was given to us and everything else would be OK ! We were told that it is our duty to work hard at school and do what we’re told to do and that it was how we are going to make the country a better place ! All we had to do is do the homework, prepare for the test, and get good grades ! And that is how Algeria is going to be great !
I remember a teacher telling me that because I’m a « top student », I had to set an example for other students ! How? My copybook had to be more organised and she told me to rewrite everything ! ( Just for the record, I didn’t, I stopped writing, empty can’t be unorganised)
I was a rebel at that time, I was not afraid of expressing my thoughts, I complained about everything and I hated the school director! Luckily I had good grades and a lot of teachers loved me for reasons unknown, so I didn’t get kicked out of school for standing up for my rights (at that time entering the school even if I’m late because it’s dangerous outside and having a proper chair in my classroom)
In my last year in elementary, they changed the director and brought someone new, he seemed nice .. but I discovered later that he was actually GREAT ! He invited me and a friend of mine, (both of us were chosen by the teachers as representatives for the students because of our grades), and a couple of teachers and other employees . He explained how things work in schools and what his job was, told us about his plan for the year and the problems that he saw that needed fixing. He asked for our opinions and answered our question (even the teachers had no idea about the things he told us about). That was the first time I saw a physical person at school, looking for problems, not to complain but to fix them, he didn’t make demanded he made plans ! And he asked for feedback and other opinions ! And also asked for help and contribution from both the students and the teachers ! He wanted the school to be better so he worked on it ! I was sad it was my last year, and I saw things changing, everything he planned he actually did ! That was changing for me ! I was given the chance to express my opinion AND to be part of « making things better ».
Kids and teenagers are underestimated, nobody listens to them, even though it has been scientifically proven that the younger you are the more creative and imaginative, adults tend to think that because they’re just kids they don’t have a say in anything, they just have to take whatever they’re given. No one would listen to what a 15 year old has to say about war or politics or global warming, a 15 year old is just a kid who knows nothing about life ! But are we teaching them ?!! Are we even allowing them to learn and think for themselves and express their opinions ? How do we expect that they will grow up to be the changemakers if we don’t teach them or even let them try become that before they become « adults » ? What is adulthood anyway? and What is maturity? is it about age? I don’t think so …
I was growing up and I started discovering things like books, I read about religion, history and self development. There was TV and I discovered politics, wars, pollution, racisime, sexiseme, poverty … And via the internet I discovered my love for science and physics (and that what they teach in school about it is a waste of time ),I discovered my love for food and cooking, health and well being, I learned that you can learn things that aren’t taught in school and found things a lot more useful. But there was also the real world !I learned about friendship, love, family ,making memories and figuring out what matters most in life … I learned about failure, making mistakes and what it feels like to be abused just because you’re a female.
The more I learned things, just out of pure curiosity , the more I hated school ! Why would I even go? what am I learning there ? No one is teaching me what I need to know ! No one is telling me how to be happy, how to make life decision, how to face problems and deal with the world that is outside of my imagination ! I went to highschool and had to choose a path for my life in 15 days and stick to it ! And if I made a bad choice it would be my fault and my problem to deal with ! I followed a system for 12 years and came out blank ! Just some basic analytical skills and false information … What’s the point of throwing out information if there is no space for curiosity and creativity? And what about teaching kids how to be human? How to love and understand? About tolerance and peace? About happiness, self-confidence and self-awareness? I guess adults too need to learn that ! Because they too didn’t learn it at school !
I am an adult now, and I’m worried about my nephews, not just about their education and future, but also about their well being, about what kind of citizens the system might turn them into. One of them, A 6 year old, is hyperactive and very smart, and his teacher is complaining about that and I’m worried that he’ll be mistreated like my childhood friend who ended up leaving high school, and I don’t even what to think about the kid who dropped out of elementary school and ended up in the streets and then in jail for MURDER. I’m worried about all our children ! I don’t see that the system is getting any better, it’s getting worse ! And what are we doing about it? Strikes? Teachers « demanding » their rights ? Changing the programme while we don’t even know where we got it from or what’s in it? What are we feeding these mindes ?!! Is there anyone who knows the answer? And if not did anyone look for an answer or even just ask? What is the purpose of these 12 years of education ?!
It’s sad to see so much time, effort AND MONEY put into something we don’t know what we’re gaining from. We say we care about our children’s education so we made it obligatory AND free ! Don’t get me wrong that’s AMAZING ! But we have to take it to the next level now ! If there is a problem in the system, and there are too many to count, we have to define them, and we have to solve them ! It’s time for us to stop demanding things we think we deserve ! Stop waiting for a superhero to come and make everything perfect ! Things don’t get done unless we do ! We need to accept that and work together as people from the same nation, as a community, we need to listen to each other, listen to the teachers, the researchers, the thinker and also listen to our children ! It doesn’t matter how small or big the act is, everyone has to take action as soon as NOW !