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 20 comments