Mr. Senrick--Teacher/World Traveler

Mr. Senrick--Teacher/World Traveler
Educators to Saudi Arabia 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Saudi Government School

We had quite the opportunity today! We visited the King Faisal Educational Complex, a network of 3 government ran Saudi schools. Located on the campus of a local university, most of the attendees are sons of university employees. (The women in our group visited a female school some distance away.) We are the first international group that has been allowed to visit these 3 schools, and the first in the IIE's program to visit a non-private school. It was an amazing opportunity, and an enlightening one to learn about it from administrators, while also having opportunities to visit with students.

The complex is divided into three schools, elementary, intermediate, and secondary sections. While there were certainly differences between the sections, here are some generalizations that could be made for all:

(1) There were good resources for special education students. In all three levels, their were separate rooms/facilities particularly for blind students. Students with higher academic needs were also accommodated with one-on-one attention from teachers.

(2) At all levels, students sat in desks. While sometimes in groups, there seemed to be a focus on direct instruction from the teacher. With the exception of a math and English class we visited, there were no textbooks for students. In all cases, the teacher was standing at the front delivering a lesson while students listened. (I didn't notice them taking notes either.) Now, I can only share what I observed. Perhaps students are more engaged in writing or reading at other times. One of the guides informed me that in the science classes, students only observe experiments. By doing so, they are unable to do some of their own critical thinking that comes through experiencing the activity.

(3) The little social studies instruction they get is in geography and economics. What I found interesting was that the only maps I saw on walls were of either the Arab or Islamic world. The few world maps I saw were focused specifically on the Arab countries. It's worth noting that these maps were also strictly physical maps, or religion maps. Though we were told that they are taught about other world cultures, students' work reflected a focus on the physical geography. One member of our group commented that this could reflect the focus on training petroleum engineers at the college level.

(4) Nearly all of the students were excited and friendly towards us. I really enjoyed getting to interact with some of the kids! When asked what their favorite parts of school were, most said sports--soccer and basketball! (It felt like I was in the US :-)) One said English and another Math. I also met a few students who had been in schools in the US at some point. When asked if which school they liked better, they said the US schools.

(5) Maintaining the Islamic faith is an integral theme in the school. Islam is a pervasive theme in all classes, not just the ones they take on the Koran or the teachings of Mohamed. In the English class we visited, students were reciting religious historical facts in English. Also, the posters on the wall were Islamic in nature. At the end of our visit, it was prayer time. Prayer rugs were rolled out into the center plaza of the school. Hundreds of students gathered to say their recited prayers. Unfortunately, we were rushed out at that point. I think it would have been fascinating to see them pray, yet at the same time I respect their protection of their religion. (It did make me grateful that our schools in the US are not tied directly to any religion.)


shannen =] said...

hey i know what these are...

they are the mats at the mosks...right...

see i learned something...(hehe)


Anonymous said...

that is really cool that you could go to a government school. how would you say that the two schools compare? see ya thursday!


Anonymous said...

While you were at the school did you give them our letters? Did the teacher or students seemed curious or distracted with you there? Were the kids shy or happy that you were visiting? What were the expressions of the kids when and if you gave them our letters? What age group did our letters go to?

see ya soon

Anonymous said...

There are many sterotypes accociated with Saudi Arabia. I was wondering what ones you believed yourself, that you were suprised to find out were false?


Erica A. said...

How many kids are in the average classroom? Also, how many kids attend at a school? (All three types)

Also, I think the individual teaching is really cool. They must have a lot of teachers to do that?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Senrick,
In section 2 you mentioned you could only share what you observed. So were you not allowed to teach as visiting teachers, such as students, are allowed to at our school? Since this is a different experience, would you rather be involved in teaching, or would you like to spend your school days taking notes about how things are done differntly in Saudi Arabia?
-Mike Ward

Charlie said...

The kids look like they approved of your visit.

Do you know the significance of the beads and plaques hanging on the wall?

Anonymous said...

did they learn some things that we learn at our school? and i would have never expected that they would have that neat of stuff lol guess that proves me wrong lol.

Anonymous said...

i had no idea how nice of stuff they have lol do thay learn the same stuff we learn at here? if not then what do they learn? and do they take MCA's like we have to lol let me know lol

-kayla S.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Senrick it was so awesome that you could visit saudi arabia. I would like to visit stuff like that. I learned alot of whith you taught us. See you you Monday.

Nicky S.