it’s at least 40° degrees. The sun is scorching hot, burning up the rocky hills and mountains of this holy city where once lived and preached the best educator humanity has ever seen. However, today, the picture is different. More than 35 students are cramped into classroom “Alef 14.” The stench of the class can be felt from a 100 meters away; a mix of human odor and a variety of human gasses, the result of ill-prepared sandwiches the students eat during the middle break, “fos7a.” The celling fan is propelling at maximum speed, in a failed attempt to cool down the “samoom” air entering from the broken glass on the classroom windows. It’s stirring up all kinds of smell and pushing it through the nostrils of students who are semiconscious and eager to leave this hell. This was the scene in Al Zahra Elementary School in Makkah, 1975.
The disaster lies not in these horrendous conditions. Generations before us studied in far worse environments. The tragedy are the “educators” that existed in 1975 and still exist today. Although classrooms have now less students, air conditioned, equipped with air fresheners, have state of the art technology, and beautiful buildings, the teacher is still as stupid as he/she was 30 years ago, if not more stupid! I meant to use a harsh word to illustrate the suffering I endured to bring myself up from teachers and an education system that worked so hard to dumb me down! My creativity was put on hold for 12 years in the Public School System of Saudi Arabia. That was the bad news! I , with the grace of Allah, have prevailed and beat the system, at least I think so. But the question is, what about a generation that was dumbed down. Look around and smell the “egg sandwiches.”
The good news is that I hear things are going to change! Those who know me, will tell you I am not an optimist. However, for the sake of argument and for the objective of this appeal, I will have a rosy picture.
I am going to state the obvious. The key to change and the drive for a great society is the teacher. You can build great schools. Import the best curriculum from the most advanced eduction systems in the world. You can create state of the art technology schools, even use iPads for textbooks (a trend from the future). If the teacher remains stupid, we are doomed. But this can change (the optimist me is coming out).
DEMAND. GET INVOLVED. CREATE. Demand good teachers. Do not accept substandard teachers. Make noise and you will be heard! Get involved as a parent. Do not let the teacher cheat your kid out of a promising future. It’s happening everyday. Create an environment for your kid that encourages thinking, creativity and challenge to oneself. I have seen first hand the damage caused from killing creativity. It takes a long time to reverse the damage.
Take these 3 steps and the future could have less stench.
DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert on education. I wrote this article because of an education system that failed me. I see the constant struggle with kids and parents. I feel the challenge as an employer in a highly creative field, constantly looking for talent.