Monday, October 18, 2010

Is our Children Learning?

There is a trend developing in Egypt. I recently had my students write a one page essay comparing Chinese, American, and Egyptian proverbs. By doing this I told them that they would better understand the three countries' values. My students gave me one page summaries copied and pasted from Wikipedia. Ironically this assignment about values taught me a lot about theirs.
The students I teach attend a private school and pay a significant amount per year. The school is a for-profit institution, which I believe to be counterproductive. Mohammed Yunus, pioneer of social business, has some interesting ideas about how to revolutionize business models so that they do actually contribute to the social good. But that is a long way off from the system the school has now.
Unfortunately the feeling I'm getting is that an education here (at least with the class of kids I'm working with) is just a check in the box. Something to be either completed or not completed. Which is odd for me, because here I am convincing a group of 90 students (total) that actually you can become very well educated, and that the key to that is critical thinking. Maybe for the first time ever they are being asked to draw conclusions, make inferences, and apply lessons learned in literature to their own lives. The process is painstakingly grueling.

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