Acronyms can stand for anything

       As they prefer everything done fast, among the things learners today excessively do is shortening their words and expressions so as to save time and “energy” and also embarrassment as they no longer spell correctly well. Therefore, they don’t bother to check for spelling or whatever. All that they are interested in is to transmit their messages (  on Whatsapp, facebook, messenger or else ) the fastest. This becomes a habit for them and it has tremendously affected their learning. They write in abbreviation and acronyms, and this serves two main goals, to be quick and in order not to be corrected. If they don’t know how to spell “because”, they either write it “coz” or “b.c.”, this last one is not used by everybody; it is almost exclusive for one or a small group of students. I saw it on one of my students’ paper. He wrote it this way on purpose. He could have written it like this “bicouse“. Most students write this way when they are forced to do. I am sure they won’t be able to write it even in its incorrect spelling form anymore sooner or later. This generation is imposing its own new awkward spelling “rules”.

         I asked the students what “LOL” stands for, and they immediately started giving me what they use and what others use it for,

  • Lots Of Love
  • Loads of Love
  • Laugh(ing) Out Loud
  • Lots Of Laughter
  • Lots Of Luck
  • Load Of Laughs

Whereas the same acronym could stand for anything depending on the settings it was used, for example it could stand for

  • Laughing On Line
  • List of Links
  • Love of Life
  • Language of Love
  • Leg of Lamb
  • Learn Online
  • Live-On-Line
  • Live Out Loud
  • Land of Love
  • Language of Literature
  • Loser on Line
  • Living on Line
  • Love of Literacy
  • Lying Out Loud

But, to my astonishment, one of the students said it can also stand for “Lucifer Our Lord”. Here is the corner stone of the whole subject. Teaching learning skills must guide the digital literacy skills. This culture is blossoming and it is gaining space. No one can stop it now. The worst of all hypotheses is when each one of the learners adopts their own signs which maybe no one else can decipher unless it goes viral on social networks. And the teens quickly adopt anything that goes viral on the net without evaluation, validation, and synchronisation. They accept it as good just because some people on the web say it is. Learning needs critical thinking skills to know what and how things are on the web. It is not all bad, but you need to know exactly what you are navigating for.

Job burnout

       Some teachers blame themselves for not being able to make some of their students better than what they are. Blaming oneself in this case is an indication that there still is some conscious love for the job going on. This kind of self evaluation, leads to action research and subsequently to innovation in methods and teaching approaches and techniques. Unfortunately the ministry doesn’t seem to appreciate hard working people because its measures are loose and ineffective. All the same, there is a logical explanation to this. Teachers are left alone. They are not encouraged or even noticed. As there is no assistance and no motivation in accompaniment, there is waste of huge amounts of energy.

       I doubt any of these teachers would stand for long the stress of working hard while their efforts are being neglected with persistence. This is the worst of all sensations. As far as there is no serious solution to the situation, more burnout teachers will surface in great numbers. Most of them are workaholic that’s why more cases will show up every now and then. To deal with burnout disease, many teachers pretend they would take it easy and be indifferent. They only mock themselves. They just can’t. It’s in their blood to blame themselves for the students’ inefficient, so they keep challenging themselves until they suddenly collapse. Teachers who don’t see themselves in this, they are doing the job by mistake. Case closed.

English for learning

       You need to provide a strongly convincing reason for learning English and you will get the students suddenly motivated. The problem is that no matter how strong the reason is, some students seem very indifferent. Their motivation is permanently low. Although English itself is the motivation, there’s better: money. If any other language can make the learners rich, they will surely get them motivated just for the sake of learning it.

       Everybody knows English is important for updating knowledge especially in the fields of sciences and technology; updating means becoming able to make money by doing a job which has never existed before. The learners today are very pragmatic. They learn for money and only few of them who take their studies seriously for personal development. As the majority of learners look for short cuts to get where they can get money faster and with less effort. They cheat to get good scores, but how could they cheat in real life communication?!

       I believe that learning English is almost a reason and goal in itself. It can open locked doors and it can provide plenty of opportunities for students to have quality learning. The world, nowadays, is seen in terms of a vast (virtual) place with no boundaries due to the tremendous development in the field of communication and technology. It is agreed upon that the world has become a small village, and to be able to live and communicate with every one, you need to learn lots of languages; which is generally impossible. Therefore English has all the reasons to be the lingua franca of this age of multi-media. Once you learn English, you become able to connect to the whole world. Now what if the English language is being taught in crowded classrooms?! No matter what teachers do to find suitable ways to teach English in uncomfortable environment, the result is always mediocre. Several theories how to manage and large classes have been suggested, but none of them seems to work perfectly well.  Teachers have tried almost all of them, but they always face indifference, unwillingness and idleness from the part of the learners. English is a language and it is normally learnt to be used; however, in crowded classrooms, some students have never had the opportunity to say a word in English. Active learning could be of some utility, but on very poor scale. Briefly, no theory so far has proven valid. All in all, the less students there are, the better learning takes place.

       English is the language for learning sciences and technology. Successful learners, nowadays, are exclusively those who master the English language for the sake of being informed of the novelties in almost all fields of knowledge. The English language is the key for success. Are the government, the ministry of education, and the unions aware of this? I have my reasons to believe they are. Even my grandma can say “Good bye guys!”

School as a factory for bricks

       Gone the time when the school’s utmost objective is to educate people on the basic principals of active citizenship. When the kids grow up, most of them are respectful and educated. Law and personal privacy were respected. School used to create the sense of responsibility. School was the place where people can meet greatness and self esteem.

       What remains of the picture is the frame. School now has become the worst place you can send your kids to. Well, let me explain. The school system is almost the same. It has not improved for decades. Your children can use your old school books but they cannot read or understand anything because they are all victims of this contrast between the old learning material and the new sophisticated technological devices full of various apps used to teach you all kinds of stuff. How come the ministry of education insists on keeping classrooms very traditional, ordinary and almost primitive, then asks for quality learning and excellence! It’s funny and ironic, isn’t it? The students as well as teachers do not feel comfortable in a place where comfort is a basic requirement for good teaching and learning processes. This type of school is not a valid means for learning any more. It is a suffocating environment. Who, among teachers and students, dares say the opposite?

       Besides, the syllabus is designed to produce identical individuals who must think, act and reflect similarly, and look the same just like bricks in a wall. So, the Pink Floyd were right. The syllabus wants every student to be good even though they don’t look like enjoying a subject. This reminds me of Thomas Alva Edison who was labelled “too stupid to learn” anything whereas he was exceptionally beyond those shallow lessons who has to learn no matter what. The syllabus is killing creativity in kids if it keeps teaching them the lessons they feel like learning. This type of learners have to think critically and creatively to solve problems which we know nothing about and then to make wise and sustainable decisions. Where is our school from this?! Miles and miles away, think about it.

 

Competition for cooperation

       It has a name the crime of testing learners at school. Do the tests really seek to evaluate the learners’ competences? Teachers can answer you, no. There is a big problem. This problem is the outcome of the failure of measuring the students’ competences since the early stages of school. The so called “the school of success” has failed dramatically. It allows the students from one level to the upper one without checking if the kids are ready or not. When they get to the baccalaureate level, they find out, they have been dragged to a trap. To be able for a student to get the Bac. Degree, they have to be efficient enough to answer exam papers in History, Geography, Philosophy, languages, math, physics, natural sciences and more. However, the background knowledge of these students do not permit interacting with these school subjects all at once. Some of them even have difficulty writing their names accurately. Most of them cannot know what the instructions in exams tell them.

            There must be a kind of paradigm shift to suit these learners’ type and learning strategies and capacities. You think you are smart enough to understand what the kids need. Wrong! You … sorry, we all have no idea what this generation is like. However we must try not to give in. This generation is particularly dependent in every side of their lives, so why then shall we exclude study. They are dependent on their mobile phones, and they rely a lot on what the internet tells them about what they need to know. In a word, you are dealing with addicted generation. Well, this addiction case can be treated in a way to make it positively affecting the learners when testing exploits the bright side of being a student who can do nothing without technology.

Two heads are better than one

        As the students are keen on working in pairs to feed from each other, they form this false concept about themselves, that the others are always better, why don’t we let them work in teams so that each one of them regains self-confidence and cooperates seriously to accomplish tasks. This kind of tests is more beneficial for both the learners and the school they belong to. They can work together to improve their abilities, skills and independence. Tell them what to do, but let them care about how to do it. Certainly working together allow them to be depression-free and then creativity is boosted through cooperation to give competition a new look. The learners should learn how to compete to improve their cooperative style for the betterment of results. The learners will understand and feel the importance of their individuality in the group. They start to compete positively. They indirectly encourage each other to be better than what they were before the contest. This is a new learning strategy which will become a habit afterwards. Individual tests have proven a failure in the age of technology. Students cheat openly thinking that it is their right to help themselves “recall” information. No one tolerates this kind of tests anymore. Variety in skills and competencies surely enrich collective tasks. If the group cannot come out with something original, it means that the group has no diversity in skills and that is the outcome of old school system.

 

You can’t say …

The plot

       Before the start, I guess a long introduction seems necessary to make our way to discuss this extremely convoluted issue; and after that, as always, there’s nothing nothing. The topic is about the time to think our educational system over which nobody seems to spare. They say that school is a story from the past; it’s a waste of time to give it attention.

       I guess it’s high time we shut down schools for reconstruction and reform. Well, what is the point? Think about it. Our students come to school for grades only, whereas the ultimate objective from going to school is obviously learning to learn effectively. The students are rather interested in “better” marks despite the quantity and quality of learning they acquire. Some students have excellent grades, yet the amount of knowledge and skills they have is of no value at all. Whereas there are skillful gifted students who have average scores. It is our educational system itself which creates this awkward situation. Most students have an odd concept about school. To get those “valuable” good scores, the students can do whatever thing they are in hand to reach those high scores; therefore cheating on tests and exams is what the students will excel at.

       To be able to redress this handicap of our -neglected for ages- public school, a fresh plan needs be set up immediately. Unfortunately, this has always been impossible because the government has its priorities, but education and health are at bottom of the list because they are public; they want to privatise them for better results. I personally think the government is not enthusiastic even a little to do anything to save the public school because it is public i.e. exhausting the budget. So why bother to ask questions such as what must be done to improve school programs and syllabi for better performance. School has been being demolished for a long time already; therefore talking about reforms is an unfunny joke. Everyone is aware of this, but they don’t just want to admit it.

School implosion

School has been being demolished systematically from inside through some sort of conspiracy against “free education”. Pay for your schooling or get out? A number of secret rumours circulate telling people that the public school students rarely get good education, so parents have to move their kids to private school for better education. Because most people are not able to afford school fees, they keep their kids in the public schools, and another plot has been schemed devilishly. It aims at deflating public school through a series of measures among which, crowded classes, less sessions for basic school subjects like English not to be obliged to recruit new teachers, and so forth.

       Our kids then fall victims of this premeditated destructive plot. First, they “must” pass exams despite their inefficiency and incompetence. When they reach higher levels, they find out that they are unable to carry on with their studies because they are not well prepared and not ready for lessons which require solid background knowledge to assimilate. Hence, they are brought up to believe that scores are more important than learning. That’s how they understand the reason why they go to school. They struggle for good scores no matter how they get them. Moreover, it has suddenly become a truth for them that cheating is a right and stopping the students from cheating, you are depriving them from one of their basic rights. Technology on the other hand has made it easy for them to stick to fraudulence and deception. You cannot separate teenagers from their mobile phones. The mobile phone itself uses free from charge apps which intentionally facilitates cheating. They come to the point of believing that anything published on the web is “public property” which everybody is allowed to use (plagiarism). How can you convince teenagers now that cheating is illegal? They don’t see cheating as cheating; theirs is a kind of misinterpretation of the term.

It is like this, I am afraid.

School in agony

Some people don’t just want to admit that the type of school they used to know has suddenly ceased to exist. School today is no more than a dying corps in reanimation living its last agonising critical moments. Times change and with them all the good beautiful values of being a learning being. Believe it or not, now school is bodiless and without dignity. It is found everywhere in different shapes, designs and incredibility. It is mostly a virtual environment where learning is a risk to take on your own expenses. Nothing is guaranteed and nothing is there to trust or suspect. It is actually the dilemma of being face to face with erosion and decay. Doubt for committed students becomes their faithful companion throughout the journey of learning. The students can no longer decide what to take and what to reject. In social networks, you can meet “experts” in all fields. Everybody seems to know everything, and that’s the new threat for this “unlearned” generation.

Be better than I am and I will have to be your disciple. My life is in your hands. Brainwash me and “make my day” the way it pleases you. New “skilled” orators are preaching filth pretending they know what they bark about. These new teachers coming from nowhere are the new masters of knowledge that has nothing to do with what you define as knowledge. I told you, the world has betrayed school, and made a compact with the devil “social networks”. Isn’t the trustful school out of order now?! So let ignorance be your guide. The learners are imbibing all sorts of garbage from media and particularly from the World Wide Web even the way they have to treat the “bloody” old school that nobody is seriously interested in anymore. Damn the day teaching has become the job of everyone including the stupid fanatics of all propensities.

Resurrection is what we should wish for. The smell of decay is everywhere. School is no longer operational. I mean the public school which used to be a human pride. If no one has the guts to say that we are losing the coming generations once for all, the worst will surprise us. Be sure, our students today are getting rid of the last few values that the old school had spent decades to establish. Look around, what do you see? As for me, I see herds of absent-minded youth heading for their own self destruction. Let’s just be serious and try decisively to revive the public school before the whole thing becomes a hopeless case.