Apr 10, 2011

Are We Really An Educated Nation?

Ever since the big earthquake nuclear boy has had an upset stomach. “My tummy hurts” he shouted. “I can’t hold my poop any longer!” Nuclear boy is notorious for his stinky poop. It would ruin every ones day if he pooped. One day everyone did jump as he let out a big bang. Sniffer man came along and measured the stinky level around nuclear boy. “Thankfully it wasn't that stinky” said sniffer man. And the story goes on.

You probably have noticed that this silly story is talking about the nuclear crisis that followed the earthquake in Japan in March. This was only the introduction to a short cartoon made for young Japanese school children to teach them about what’s happening in their own country.
Apart from being quite amused by the funny story I was astonished by how important it obviously is for the Japanese to have their children educated about what is happening in their country.

Jordanians like to think of themselves as an educated nation. Although I do not doubt that Jordan has a high percent of collage degree holders and a low level of illiteracy, it still seems to me that we lack a decent level of general knowledge or as one may put it, common sense!

Our whole educational system is built on the result not the process. The syllabus by which schools run in Jordan may be quite sufficient on paper but it severely lacks the practical side of education such as the exercises and experiences that implement the educational process. To put it in one sentence, we lack creativity.

The most important year – or the only important year one can argue – of the twelve school years in Jordan is the Tawjihi year. The Tawjihi system determines the future of one’s collage education based solely on the exam results of one year of school with no regard to the previous eleven years the student spends at school and has no requirement for any kind of research or individual creativity.

I've heard many times that we are called a nation that doesn’t read. I may not totally agree with that but it is true that Jordanians – and Arabs in general – do not like to read. We have almost no real public libraries and only a handful of bookstores that only hold bestsellers and all-time classics. This is mainly because we are not accustomed to reading from an early age and the lack of book reading requirements in the educational system.

This insufficiency leads to students that are taught to learn information off by heart only to pass the next exam. School students later become university students. Again the same system that inhibits individual creativity or at least doesn’t encourage it is predominant until these students eventually graduate to produce a society of narrow minded, uncreative, non-reading collage degree holders.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from nuclear boy before it gets really stinky!

Adam Bataineh

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