Wednesday, June 11, 2008

American School Downfall*

I pride myself for being a former ASKer. I was a student to a number of wonderfully inspiring teachers, some I am still in touch with today while others will always remain in heartwarming memories. Whenever I was asked which school I attended, I remember answering the person back with a simple and slightly lofty "ASK." The American School of Kuwait, once a home to hoards of professionals with a passion for teaching, a haven where international students amicably mingled and balanced out formerly humble locals and Arabs, a place that encouraged tolerance, respect, the love of knowledge and what one truly wants to achieve out of life.


With the tuition equivalent to that of credible universities in the United States, one would expect the so-called American School of Kuwait to employ informed, mature and highly experienced teachers from the United States with a genuine intention to teach and teach well. However, what one wouldn't expect is to face a staff where half is compromised of poorly paid Aussies and New Zealanders under the age of thirty who set camp on the school's premises for three years tops before they pick up and go to experience another thrilling, Third World adventure elsewhere.

However, that is not the only issue that had made me doubt the integrity and standing of the school. What triggered my resentful frustration are three different incidents that all occurred in ASK's elementary school this past school year.

The other day, a family friend infuriatingly complained about her child's teacher who calls all the male students in his elementary class "jins" or in English, faggot, in a girly manner. When confronted about the reoccurring incident by a parent, the teacher admitted that he did use the word but didn't know what it really meant. "One of the Kuwaiti students here uses it so I thought it was a local nickname for all boys."

Another eyebrow raising event occurred in one of the classrooms yet the third and last one shook the very grounds of supposed American diplomacy. A P.E. (Physical Education) teacher in ASK had a conflict with a Muslim elementary school student. Regardless of what occurred between the two, nothing in the world would legitimize the P.E. teacher's reaction that included taking the student's religion textbook and tearing up the pages while denouncing and cursing Islam as a terrorist cult that breeds savagery and hatred. Ironically, an Arab Christian girl who was also an elementary school student scolded the P.E. teacher and admonished his atrociously depraved and utterly irresponsible behavior.

I would assume that some people will place the blame on the culturally clueless alien teachers while others would suppose that the moral caliber of this generation of students is diving to a new, all-time low, a factor that might have instigated teachers' pessimistic perception of the locals and thus, would have aided in projecting such negative thoughts and realize them in the classroom on behalf of the students' education. I would bet an arm and a leg that countless people would jump the gun and point accusatory fingers at the Minister of Education, Nooriya Al-Sabeeh, and charge her for overlooking the destructive nature of Western institutions and their harmful outcome on students.

In my opinion and from what I have observed throughout my years in ASK, the main element that has led to the disgracefully shameful anticlimax of ASK is the person who owns it. Shame on them for using and abusing the most precious inheritance anyone can have: The power of education.

*Note: This post does not refer to all teachers employed in ASK. By "all," I happily exclude the teachers who teach whole-heartedly and who truly give their all in the classroom. Regardless of what grade you're teaching now, I don't think you know how much impact a great teacher has on his/her students.

Al Green - Just for Me
Aretha Franklin - Chain of Fools
The Temptations - Cloud Nine
Stevie Wonder - Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - I Gotta Dance to Keep From Cryin'
Sly and the Family Stone - Can't Strain My Brain
Ray Charles - It's Crying Time Again
Four Tops - Shake Me, Wake Me

at 8:30 AM


  1. Blogger nibaq posted at 2:23 PM  
    * > ASK
  2. Blogger K.thekuwaiti posted at 3:33 PM  
    Underpaid Aussies > Convicted Canadians.

    That said .. I am home schooling my kids.
  3. Blogger Purgatory posted at 4:00 PM  
    No sense of paying for an education, there is none these days.
  4. Blogger f7ee7eely posted at 4:08 PM  
    I pride myself for being a product of public schooling --

    The disturbing incidents you've mentioned are nothing, REALLY NOTHING compared to what goes at Kuwait's public schools --

    in middle school i recall one incident where an eccentric student raised a question to the teacher during anatomy class as to why men cant have babies?

    estath med7at : eb2aa garrab enta we 9a7bek oo b3dain ta3ala 2oly gara eeh LOL

    hatha nothing compared to the gang bangs,shootings,mass fightings, etc etc
  5. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 4:48 PM  
    Kuwait is unattractive for professional foreigners as a whole, so you only get the crappy ones, who want to get the hell out of this shithole as soon as they save a sufficient amount of cash.

    remember this?
  6. Blogger Shurouq posted at 8:28 PM  
    We've turned out fine after all, don't you think?
    And that was very progressive of your teacher if you ask me :)

    In defense of public education.
  7. Blogger Erzulie posted at 10:08 AM  
    nibaq: unfortunately.

    k: you know, i don't think that working overseas would be a bad idea when it might be the second best option to run away from taxes.

    purgatory: the best education comes from home. just add a couple of textbooks and white hairs on your part.

    f7ee7eely: i cannot believe that your teacher said that. i think that public school's were better off before the war when most of the teachers were palestinian. i believe that they have a great knack for that specific profession. and fighting is something that i would suspect would happen on occasion, but gang bangs? shootings? where!? i have heard something about rapes, especially in boys' public schools. why isn't anyone doing something about that if it actually does happen?

    anonymous: well, i think that if a school actually declares that it's the best private school in kuwait, it should invest more in quality teachers and not haul in the "crappy" ones. and shithole or not, it's a decision that all expatriates have made i.e. to work here. i am unnerved by some professional expatriates who come here and complain their butt off. nobody forced anyone to come here and if one makes the choice to live here temporarily, they might as well suck it up, respect themselves and everyone around them regardless of the other party's worth. and when i heard and read about the issue about the middle school principal, i couldn't help but sense something fishy. something does not fit in the equation. and i know that the top reason for working the kinks out was out of political reasons i.e. to avoid blowing the situation to incalculable levels that could possibly affect the repute of Westerners living in Kuwait. then again, i think it already has seeing as how the topic was in every other source of media.

    shurouq: public or private, i support a good, solid education. a friend of mine reminds me of you and f7ee7eely - in a good way. he's a product of public school education and he's fluent in both english and arabic (verbal & written). i think that the latter i.e. balancing out one's skill in languages, is a plus that comes from home and how parents instill that want in their kids.
  8. Blogger f7ee7eely posted at 11:32 AM  
    prior to the invasion we had world class teachers who would outsmart even harvard graduates -- but post invasion the teachers who hailed from a certain country we all know are good for nothing and could careless about the education quality ( with few exceptions of course )--- I swear by god almight that the following incident is TRUE -- a short school slacker, burglar,thug etc got expelled from a certain public school so in retribution to his expulsion he threw a grenade in the school's back yard -- I think it was in 92-93
  9. Blogger f7ee7eely posted at 11:35 AM  

    going to public school is somewhat similar to living in New York -- "it either makes you or breaks you"

    how the hell r ya?:P
  10. Blogger f7ee7eely posted at 1:37 AM  
    "just for laughs"

    3ad moo et7e6eenah bil blog !! :P
  11. Blogger Erzulie posted at 7:29 PM  
    f7ee7eely: i can't believe that that happened, which school did it occur at? oo shal nizqa ib akher youtube vid!
  12. Anonymous Centimani posted at 6:14 AM  
    I agree. Unfortunatley this plunge in the quality of teachers is not limted to ASK but is evident in all schools. Avarice seems to have completely possessed the owners.

    -- a former NESer ( ASK a** whooper :P )
  13. Blogger Jewaira posted at 8:41 AM  
    Unfortunately teachers are not what they used to be and that is in private schools as well as public schools. The dedicated professional and ethical educator is a dying breed.

    Regardless, I am shocked that an elementary ASK school teacher would do such a thing. I hope just action was taken by the school administration.

    We are paying for our children to be mentally abused.
  14. Blogger error posted at 12:08 AM  
    I'm against western education in primary or elementary levels, they bread nothing but corrupt and conflicting values and they really confuse students. We are really one messed up society, a pond of experiments, very diversified and that’s not a bad thing, what is bad is our government for the lack of opportunity it provided for its people. Or else why would we have a handful of schools, if we wanted better education we should have more schools, create a competitive market for schooling with equal opportunities for everyone.
  15. Anonymous Kinga_of_Kuwait posted at 2:33 AM  
    Wow from what u described, ASK sounds like it's cooler now than it has ever been!
  16. Anonymous Cronus posted at 9:50 AM  
    error: I understand where you're coming from but I beg to differ. If I were a parent, I would not want my child to partake in the "pond of experiments" and would naturally resort to western education.
    Not sure where you're getting "corrupt and conflicting values" from... could you elaborate and perhaps exemplify?
    Also, before we point fingers at the west let's first pick up a mirror and take a hard look at ourselves. Our education system is in shambles and having "more schools" will certainly not fix it.
    We all want to have an educational system that we can be proud of but the prospect of having such a system now or in the near future is quixotic at best.
  17. Blogger Traveleer posted at 8:59 AM  
    This is what happens when education is thought of purley as business. you would think that they strive to provide students with a perfect education with the obscene fees they charge.

    As for aussies.. I don't mind Kylie Minogue teaching me PE and Nicole Kidman anatomy.
  18. Blogger Erzulie posted at 5:54 AM  
    centanni: true about the first part, and not so true about the second :P

    jewaira: the last bit is unfortunately true; problem is that such occurrences really affect the kids later on in life...

    error & cronus: equal opportunities yes, more schools, not so much. more is not always better. i think striving for quality instead of quantity is key here. there are a lot of schools sprouting about that have, well, a USP that obviously isn't as available in other schools. for instance, ASK is known for its weak Arabic curriculum. parents might enroll their kids in another known school (i.e. BBS, etc.) or another smaller school that has more of a local flavor. i've been hearing a lot of talk about dasman, but that's just one example. and i actually do agree with the whole conflicting values bit, but i think it's up to the parents to guide their kids on what to disregard and what to embrace for their kids' present and future good. cronus, i don't know what error might've referred to about the whole conflicting values bit, but having an eleven year old brother and a mom who's behind him every step of the way in terms of schooling, i have observed a few factors taught in american systems that people here are not too fond of. this is another post altogether, but in contrast to the west, we here are more about the whole "all for one and one for all" cause as opposed to the west's "is just you" uber-individual mindset. yeah i know, it's too of an up in the air example with no backup, but i just wanted to say that sometimes, the foreign values that are shipped in here are not as locally accepted as they are in their place of origin.

    traveleer: yeah, they treat it like business and it's downright unjust and unethical. i do hope that it'll bite them on the ass. i thought about a hawt aussie, but none come to mind.
  19. Anonymous Kismat posted at 10:49 AM  
    Im an ASK'er as well, and during my time, I came to the conclusion during my sophomore year, that the teachers had their license suspended in Canada/US. Hence employed at ASK.
    We had some real nut jobs, and I still hate them to this very day. I hope to God I never see them, if I do, spitting in their face is the best they could possibly hope for.

    I personally believe all Private Schools are failures, run as a profit generating venture, and not an educational program. The owners dont give a damn about education, never have never will.

    However I would still enroll my kids there, because government schools is not an option that Im willing to consider. Thats just ... well... I wont rant about it.

    The state of Kuwait doesnt care about education. As it is not beneficial to them. Look around you and you will see why.

    Education has the power to threaten everything, government, policies, way of life. For centuries people have feared education. This is specially true in Kuwait. Admit it, at least for yourself.

    Dont give me this crap about western culture, and how it "defiles" us arabs. Kuwait is at an all time low, look at the streets, the dudes at the malls, with weird haircuts, harassing women 24/7. And lately girls are doing the same thing.

    Its not uncommon that I overhear teenage girls talking to their friends "Yellah khan giz al 7ob"

    I was like wtf?

    Kuwait needs to live and let live. Go back to the way things were in the 60's. We were conservative then, but not mentally sick. Today is all about double standards.

    How many Kuwaities from "good homes" have their own liquor cabinet? Eh? I see some of you smiling already.

    How many Kuwaitis travel to" Thailand, Bahrain, UAE Each and Every Weekend? Hmmm? Specifically those aged 18-25 Bachelors. Yeah .... I can certainly see how private schools are responsible for that. *Sarcasm*

    Its like Cronus said: "Also, before we point fingers at the west let's first pick up a mirror and take a hard look at ourselves."

    Oh don't worry folks, Im sure all your sons are going to Thailand/Bahrain/UAE to check out their cultural museum, or the aquarium in Bangkok.

    Im not saying all of em, but damn theres a large majority. You just have to open your eyes.

    Now back to MOC, what good have they done for this country hmmm?

    They should regulate and subsidize educational fees, both private and government. Why do I pay more in Kuwait for a University Education that I would pay at MIT as an International Student? Oh yeah, I forgot, its because schools in Kuwait are obviously better than MIT. *nods, slaps forhead*. Im such an idiot.

    Why did MOC recently make a decision that all universities in Bahrain are no longer recognized hmmmm?

    Was it because the local universities are loosing business? Coincidence? I dont think so.

    So from the the educational mafias perspective its like this:

    Hmmmm all my potentials profit is traveling to Bahrain on the weekend to get their degree. Were loosing money here, and the banks are loosing potential loans to pay for our insanely expensive tuition for a crappy education.

    *Light Bulb*

    Oh yeah we can pay off MOC to no longer recognize degrees from Bahrain.... problem solved.

    In this aspect, Kuwait has always chosen to ride our backs. You wanna get educated hmm? Take out a loan, lol... and then well see.
  20. Anonymous Kismat posted at 7:46 AM  
    Replace MOC with MOE please. Lol have no idea why I wrote Ministry of Communication instead of Education.
    Perhaps I was thinking about them....

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