Do Moroccan schools respect individual learners?

By Rachid Khouya

Morocco World News

Laayoune, Morocco, August 17, 2013

What happens inside of our Moroccan schools can be described in a short sentence : A space consisting of a lot of teaching  with little learning. We teach more than the students learn and they learn less than we teach. The reason behind this is that there is an absence of focus on students as individual learners and thinkers.

Like our former teachers taught us, we spend years teaching the same lessons and ask our students to write the same summaries, memorize the same words and the same sentences, store them in their deep memories and learn them by heart. We make sure the students are prepared for the tests, give them marks and let them pass to the next levels without making sure they have really grasped the appropriate competencies and skills necessary for the next level of schooling, and the effective skills and intellectual abilities that suit their stages of developments.

Although educational reforms insist that the priority of teaching should be focused on teaching students what they want to learn, the way they want to learn it, teachers  are still teaching the way they studied and the way they used to teach. This is in clear contradition with the lastest teaching guidelines, which recommend that teachers, theoritically of course, should respect the individual learners and provide them with suitable and effective learning conditions that are responsive to the learner’s multi-dimentional characteristics be it physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural or social.

Generally speaking, the real conditions of our schools and classrooms do not permit teachers to use these pedagogical recommendations. Sucees in Moroccan schools It is not based on achieving clear and definite competencies. Success in our schools is guaranteed from the first day .All the students have to do to succeed is to attend the school, be obedient and do what teachers and administration ask them to do. Being obedient, peaceful and calm  is enough for some teachers to award good marks and enough for some administrators to pass the students to the next year.

Most teachers believe that they should do their best to finish the curriculum before the end of the year. Teachers become people carrying a bag full of lessons, ideas, information, quizes and test and they give what they are carrying to the students without paying attention to if what they are teaching is understood. They do not make sure the skills are reinforced.If they did the students would learn how to communicate and would be enabled to succeed in their future private and social lives.

Changing our educational systems will never take place as long as we are preaching what we do not teach and teaching what we do not preach. The reforms we talk about in meetings, congress, and training courses are meaningless words and empty sentences that have nothing to do with our realities.

The truth, at least as far as i am concerned, is that we will keep trying to change the unchangeable and we will always be harvesting the same defeats and the same failure because real change has to come from the Moroccan context, and not from the European  factories  and American plains and skies.

To this end, we should work hard to find a way to take the learners’ individual learning styles into account .This should not be a simple political motto to justify wasting huge budgets in vain. Before bringing old computers into our classrooms and schools, we need to take care of the individuals we have. We should work on reinforcing the values pertaining to character, civility and citizenship, not only in terms of talking, but in terms of practice and deed.

Up to now, and this will still go on for decades to come, teachers teach whole classrooms: they teach the same lessons for the same students in the same way. Some teachers have stopped carrying bags to school to show that they are professional. They no longer prepare their lessons because they have learned them by heart. They mock teachers who work hard, spend time preparing their lessons, carry big bags and bring teaching materials to school.

To be frank, rare are the teachers who ask the learners about their learning styles, the way they want to learn and their personal interests, likes and dislikes. It is not because they are not aware of what they are asked to do but, in my view, this has to do with their social culture. Our society does not respect the individual voices, choices and personal styles both at home and in the community. Therefore, individual styles can never be respected in the classrooms and in schools, since we think in terms of producing obedient and lazy groups of herds, instead of producing creative and free individuals.

We keep filling the learners’ heads with useless information and meaningless lessons. We failed in teaching them our religions and other religions. We failed in teaching them our cultures and others’ cultures, attitudes and values. We failed in teaching them our languages and foreign languages as well. We failed to produce good citizens of our countries and citizens of the world. The reports talk about crisis of religion, language, values, culture and identity because we do not take the learning styles and the learners ‘ differences into account while planning, monitoring and evaluating our students.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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