Read Me/Disclaimer

Read Me/Disclaimer: This is a non-political/socio-political blog. It's a running tale of my Saudi Arabian adventure, great, good, bad, and ugly. It is uncensored, and I don't really care what you think of it, read it or don't. I don't care. I did not decide to do this as a means to an end, but rather to document the means with which I occupied my time while waiting for my end... All that being said, I'm an American Expat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The opportunity to help build this system and the salary that accompanied it were to good to pass up.-Geoff

"The views presented here are just the views of some asshole named Geoff, they are not necessarily the views of my employer, my co-workers, my family or anybody else. First hand knowledge and second hand accounts were used to compile the information. These are not scientific facts and figures. These views are not necessarily supported, endorsed or even appreciated by the KSA the USA or any other country for that matter and the author makes absolutely no claim that they are."**

Monday, December 2, 2013

Achieving "understanding"

Understanding is an interesting thing, I've found in most, if not all aspects of my life that "understanding" is a relative term, it comes in stages and its a fluid term-always changing depending on the perspective of the one trying to understand. I've never understood my employers almost violently negative reaction to me attempting to learn Arabic, in fact I've always imagined that it had something to do with negotiations. If I spoke Arabic fluently, I would be in a much better position from which to negotiate. However, they've always simply said that there is no reason for me to do it. That English is the language of education and its the language that I should always use in my classroom. I finally believe them.

I graded some exams last night, a group of students from level 5 which is the beginning of the advanced levels and subjects. I knew during the exams that there were going to be a few major problems, I knew today when I entered the grades that I'd better write an accompanying report. And I knew that I was going to have to defend my grades with a few upset students.

Less than an hour after turning in the grades for the second exam, I found myself confronted (nicely) by two students. Both wanted extra marks, one wanted a re-test, the other just wanted me to increase his grade by 30-40%. I refused both requests and took both students to the Department Head. The first who wanted to re-test soon accepted the refusal and left the office. The other however continued to argue that this was Saudi Arabia, that it was an Arabic country and that he should be taught and tested in Arabic. His explanation for his poor performance on the test was that he doesn't speak English, doesn't understand English and can't read English. Therefore, he couldn't be expected to do well on the test because he didn't know anything.

Needless to say, we almost found this funny. Here we have a student telling us that he's never read the book, doesn't know how to read the book and hasn't understood any of the classes he's taken in the past two and a half years...and that this is why he should pass! It was funny, for a few seconds at least. I suggested that he could happily take his complaint to the College Council. He then turned it around, or thought he did and said that myself and two of our Filipino instructors should not be teaching, because we don't speak Arabic. It was explained to him that Arabic should not be used in the classroom, even to help students understand the material because if it is, it is a violation of the rules of the Ministry of Higher Education...Hearing that, and not one to be held back by his own lack of ability, the student then proceeded to call out and name the instructors that had tried to help him by explaining something in Arabic...

Now, I finally understand why they didn't want me learning Arabic