Teaching the lost generation in KSA

like any other usual day at work. the bill rings at 8 AM.  Its a moment that i detest the most, I’m about to get to the period that i teach, “English language for high school students”.

I entered this profession almost two months ago because i moved to KSA with my family. And since it is a man’s world in Saudia Arabia, international women are more likely to change their professions to teaching, and for more complicated reasons like the sponsorship. despite the different backgrounds and certificates. my colleagues at school are lawyers, business women, and graphic designers. But all ended up as teachers.

I didn’t mind the change of professions. As soon as i got accepted in a well known national school for high school girls; I gathered new materials, looked up new methods of teaching rather than the usual repetitive book. I wanted to be creative and be able to explore the journey of teaching. To my surprise, each day I entered the class, I listened to the non-stop pleading and complaining from the students . Begging me not to give them a lesson. So the first 15 minutes of everyday are usually wasted until i give them the million reasons why they need to learn english.

I keep reminding myself how it was for me when i was a teenager once, and i know how it feels like to be forced to get up everyday and go to school. As i would like to think that i succeeded in befriending my students, there are other times when it is almost impossible to give a lesson. the chaos, the ongoing talking amongst them. And thats how i caught myself in a situation where I lack the confidence to manage a class room. although I was confident enough with the fun material that i gave them. but its their refusal to learn that stroke me the most. 32 students in one classroom can be a bit overwhelming if only 7 of them brought their books and pens. most of them went far by not caring when they forgot to study their exams.

On the other hand; seeing the other teachers cry often has become a usual sight. Asking them a simple question like; “How is your day so far?”,  fills their eyes with tears right away. Knowing the usual answer;  ” They don’t want to learn anything” or “They wouldn’t stop laughing and talking during the class”. Last time i saw my colleague crying because one of her students gave her the middle finger.

empty classroom

Eventually, this excitement of teaching started to fade away and was replaced by the scripted lessons. I asked a colleague who studied education and had a teaching experience in another country, whether this is normal or not. Because as far as i remember, back in my days no body had the guts to ask the teacher not to give a lesson. My friend told me that it was her worst experience so far. It made me thinking why everyone starts pointing their fingers to the teachers for the students failure? I don’t consider myself as a professional teacher and i never will since it is not my speciality. But from my experience, the constant boredom and the stress that hunts the students from their society is what comes between them and the educational system.

The girls that i teach have no other life than social media and twitter, clearly because they live in Saudia Arabia, and so many things are restricted in this country. Usually graduates keep asking me how it is like to have a mixed prom and a graduation. because they will never experience that. and the word (mixed) excites them the most. they face this kind of oppression and they are lost between the western world and what they see on social media and then they get slammed by their reality, and thats when they come to school to express their dissatisfaction and anger.

I had occupied loads of jobs with longer hours but nothing compared to the stress and anxiety that teachers face everyday. all the other jobs are considered a vacation to this one.The feeling of not being appreciated, the endless preparations and the overloaded paper work is unbearable. Plus it is sad that teachers are under rated, and the students don’t looks up to them anymore. i asked my students one day to write an essay of their dream jobs. and out of the 60 girls that i teach, not one of them mentioned that they wanted to be a teacher.

This gap between students and teachers cannot be blamed on teachers only, neither the students. This generation is being taught by inadequate teachers for years now. teachers whom are meant for teaching are more eligible to guide these students and much better in evaluating their learning. rather than us, international women who come to their countries to educate them. maybe they feel that we are lost ourselves.