My experience so far in both my boys schools is that the boys are very bored by the uninspiring curriculum. The teachers are very strict and make use of the rod even for minor offences such as lack of homework. In both my schools and Kate’s, the boys schools employ ex-soldiers whose specific role is to inflict physical punishment – hardly a positive inducement to study.
I think the negativity of the school approach is responsible for the low standards and dislike of studying. This is coupled with the lack of interesting resources and large classes. It is common for the boys to be unable to put two words together after six years of learning English.Last week was my first week in front of a class in one of these schools and it was very difficult, particularly with the oldest boys. In the final year class a tall boy (really a young man) sitting at the back simply refused to participate in my group activity. He said, ‘Arabic not English’, and that was that! I said, ‘You can like Arabic AND English too,’ but to no avail. Imagine my surprise yesterday when during the breakfast break he and a group of his friends came up to me. He pointed at me and said, ‘Are you crazy?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ He was clearly taken by surprise by my answer. He then pointed at my slightly hairy chin and said, ‘Ugly’. Then he pointed at his new beard and said, ‘Beautiful’ and pointed at me and said, ‘Ugly’ again. I was laughing by this stage. I pointed at him and said ‘Handsome for men, beautiful for women.’ The ice was completely broken and we shook hands.
I think he must have spent the entire week working out rude things to say to me in English. Yes, he was doing his best to be insulting, but at least he had spent that time and effort. I was delighted. I think it was also great that his friends were listening. Hopefully they will all relax and start to enjoy learning English now, which is what I am trying to achieve. This has been my greatest success so far and I feel like celebrating.