Today I attended a workshop on the student centered approach as opposed to the traditional method of teaching. And something came up that always ticks me off. There was talk that students here are not culturally able to handle the student-centered approach. Culture is always the scapegoat when an implementation fails. When students get caught cheating, everyone says it’s the culture. When a man harrasses a woman, it’s the culture. However, the more I think about it, the more it rings true. With allowing women to drive, many women here object, it seems more so than men. I remember a family I know decided to take their first trip abroad. They tool a roadtrip to Bahrain and then straight away took a U turn back into the KSA because the wife could not handle seeing fellow women behind the wheels.
Another issue where culture gets in the way. Al Gosaibi, minister of labour, stated in an article a couple of days back that he thinks that paying unemployment benefits to Saudis is not such a good idea. I know where he’s coming from. We all have this sense of entitlement, especially when it comes to government money. I see it in my students. Many come in and do the bare requirements and are ecstatic when an instructor misses a class. They don’t care about learning, all they care about is that they receive there student stipend at the end of each month. The resources and effort is wasted on them. They are like schoolchildren in adult bodies. I truly believe that undergraduate study should be privatized. Giving monetary value to what we are teaching them is the motivational push they need to take their education seriously. And it would definitely help with filling job posts that are usually filled by expatriate workers, like cashiers, waiters, and the like. If they earn it, rather than have it handed out, they’ll appreciate it more. I know that King Saud University has a program for students that are rejected based on their high school grades. They can still get in by paying tuition for the first year and if they make the mark, they’re allowed to attend as regular “payed” students. It would be interesting to know how the students in this program have fared.