School is over. I'm 23 now and I've been going to school for 18 years. WOW! I've never counted that before. 18 whole years. Getting up almost every morning. Walking to school or taking the bus. Meeting new people, new teachers, new friends. Ditching class (rarely). But all in all I'm a good student. Sometimes the top of my class. Other times not. But all in all I made it. I never gave up. I never dropped out or repeated a grade.
All my life I've been studying and preparing for exams. I don't know what good did education in Tunisia do to me. Have I learnt anything from school? Maybe. I don't know. My favorite subject was the English language, da! Always having really good marks. My love for the English language started when this really brilliant girl was talking in English and she was pretty good. Good vocab. Good accent. She said that she learnt that from movies and TV shows. So I started watching MBC2, MBC4 and Dubai One day and night. I fell in love with the language. I started writing in my diary in English. I started to have good marks. And even though I chose natural sciences as a specialty, all what I could care about is English. In the Baccalaureate exam I passed. I didn't get that great of a mark. But I got the best mark in the English subject in my department. I was thrilled. I didn't give an inch of a damn about the overall mark as for me English is all there is.
The day I got accepted into college to study English I said to myself "hell yeah Nada, time to make all your dreams come true." People told me really bad things about the faculty I enrolled in. I remember them calling it "a hole that I will never manage to get out of". Again, I didn't give an inch of a damn. A year later I figured out that it's totally up to me to make that faculty a hole or a haven. And for me, my faculty (FLSHK) was my haven. I went through a lot in there. I experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. And even though it was my haven, I managed to get out of it and live a different experience in a different institution (ISLT). Till this day I still feel attached to FLSHK. I always wish that someday I'll become this really good teacher and go back to that place and try to make things right in there.
I never realized how things are bad in FLSHK till I studied in ISLT. I had some of the best teachers in ISLT. Don't get me wrong, there are some good teachers in FLSHK, but very few. I remember writing a couple of articles about two strikes that occurred in FLSHK and then some people thought of me as this ungrateful and bad student who disrespects her teachers. I'm not. I do not need to prove them wrong. My history as a student is more than enough to prove them wrong.
One of the reasons I'm writing this blog post is to say thank you to some of the good teachers that I have met during my long educational journey. I might forget some names. I'll try not to. So starting from primary school onward: Mrs. Emna, Mr. Falfoul (French-language teacher), Mr. Ayari, Mr. Guizani, Mrs. Hayet (history teacher), Mrs. Hlioui (English-language teacher), Mr. Romdhani (Math teacher), Mrs. Zheni (English-language teacher whom everybody disliked because she's a tough cookie, but I ADORED), Mr. Abd Afou (English-language teacher), Mr. Masoud Romdhani (whom I used to have a crush on, first time I confess this in public), Mr. Barrek (physics teacher), Mr. ? (science teacher, I forgot your name but I truly respect you), Mr. Achour, Mr. Mahfoudhi, Mr. Khsibi (never was my teacher inside the classroom but outside!), Mr. Ben Slimane, Dr. Kallel, Mr. Badis Ben Rjeb, Dr. Hermessi, Prof. Daoud, Dr. Jabeur, Prof. Ghazzeli, Dr. Hlila.. The list is longer than this one. But I can't recall all the names.
I hate teachers who don't care about the greater good of their students; who beat their students not because they made a mistake but because they're angry and needed to let go of their anger; who give bad marks when their students don't deserve ones; who prepare tests with no consideration of what have been taught during the course and put questions that were never encountered during class; who hit on their students; and who simply have no ethics and know nothing about professional conscience. If you are one of these, then you sir or madam will rot in hell because teaching is a holy profession and you have besmirched it with your misdeeds. Fortunately for you, you still have a chance to set things right. Hopefully you will take that chance.
As I have said earlier, thankfully I got out of what other students called a "hole" and met different teachers and students, teachers who care about their students and students who actually work hard enough. What I love about my MA teachers is that every now and then they share their experiences and opinions with us, as if they're trying to teach us a different lesson than those we have in the curriculum, a lesson that will actually benefit us in life. I take notes whenever they do that. I'm going to share some of their statements along with the names of the teachers who said them. I'm sure they wouldn't mind me putting their names.
"It's a miracle to be able to go through this and succeed under these conditions, and I really appreciate your efforts (addressing the students)." - Dr. Jabeur
"Keep the university system out of politics. Let's preserve the university. The university is not a place to practice politics. Science can only flourish when it is independent from others." - Dr. Jabeur
"We're not providing you with the kind of education that will turn you into citizens. We're only teaching you. And teaching is only one component of the educational system. Educators themselves have become mere teachers too." -Dr. Jabeur
"A school is not only a place where people learn. It is also a place where people become citizens." - Dr. Jabeur
"I have studied in a British university. I had support and people to talk to whenever I needed help. We even had a hotline that we can use to talk to people who are students like us whenever we wanted to." - Dr. Jabeur
"The whole system must provide support to the students. If we do not reform our educational system as soon as possible, we will probably face more severe problems." - Dr. Jabeur
"If a teacher says that you are being lazy, and you know that you are working hard, ignore him."- Prof. Daoud
"People in charge want to reach a high percentage of success among the students while education is not good enough in Tunisia." - Prof. Daoud
"People here are not academically friendly. I once proposed having a reading group in the American Center once a month in the afternoon for a couple of hours. I would distribute good articles in the students' boxes and in the next session we would discuss them. First people showed up. Then they stopped attending." - Prof. Daoud
"(talking about tests and marks) When I used to have a big class, I used to calculate the mean and standard deviation (SD) of the scores of my students and see if the scores make a smooth curve (for example: mean=11 and SD=2). If that's the case, then OK. My test is valid. But if the mean is for example equal to 8, which means their scores are not good enough, then I won't put the blame on them especially if they attend their classes and do their homework. I would give them +2 simply because it'd be my fault (not giving a valid test). There are some mean teachers who don't give scores above 6 or 7 (out of 20) and you're lucky that they retired (class laughs out loud because they knew whom the teacher is talking about)." - Prof. Ghazzeli
I'm deeply grateful to these teachers. I respect these teachers. And I hope that one day I will be as good as they are.
My father and sister, who are both French-language teachers, set a good example to me. They're dedicated to their work, they're ethical and they have professional conscience. I guess teaching runs in our blood. I'm not saying this because they're my dad and sis. This blog is almost the only space where I can be true to myself.
So THANK YOU to all my good teachers. You will always be the teachers whom I look up to and whose words will forever be carved in my memory.