Let’s be honest! Our education system is messed up. It’s no secret that it didn’t give us what we needed in order to understand how the real world works. Our curriculums consisted of reading, writing, basic history, science and math skills but didn’t go further than that. We never got to learn the fundamental notions of how to be a person in the real world. Teachers should have prepared us for life, with all its precariousness and complications. So, here is a list of 7 important things we should have learned in school but didn’t (and are living with the consequences now):
In the majority of schools in Egypt, boys and girls would separate for a class so that the girls would learn “tarbeya manzleya” and the boys would learn “seyana/zera3a”. I remember well when we had to leave our class to go into a room with an oven so we would bake cookies and make pasta (that pretty much covers all we ever cooked) and the boys would later tell us that they just goofed around. The fact that the girls never got a chance to learn about maintenance and planting and that the boys were told repeatedly that cooking is for girls are two of the biggest flaws in our system.
Aside from culture established gender roles, the classes didn’t even teach us the right material. Boys came out of class “el seyana” with no idea how to deal with plumbing, electricity, heating, roofing or any of the basic maintenance and repairs. Girls certainly didn’t learn how to sew a button, clean a house or even cook.
What we need is a curriculum that teaches both boys and girls all the rudimentary concepts of cooking, gardening and maintenance. For both genders to learn how to change a tire, how an engine works, do laundry and iron a shirt.
Egyptian kids never learned how to navigate the healthcare system. Why? because health class was synonymous with sex education. And being the conservative bunch that we are, health class was overlooked altogether. Instead, we formed a warped and unrealistic idea of sex from watching undiluted porn. Girls giggled at the mention of sex in front of boys and boys “ohhhhed” and “ahhhhed” thinking they were pretty dope for knowing what sex is. Educators felt tentative in tackling sex related topics which gave us the notion that even talking about it is considered “haram”.
The new generation has to advocate for implementing a comprehensive medically accurate sex education program in all schools.
3- How to Balance Our Lives
We used to go to school from 8 to 3, attend 9 classes a day, go back home, expected to do our homework, have a social life, spend time with our family, make sure we partake in extracurricular activities and get 8 hours of sleep. It’s nearly impossible for kids to be able to juggle all of the above without burning themselves out. It’s important to learn time management skills when we’re still free of the calcified habits that come hand in hand with age. It’s a trait that should be taken on young because it will develop a sense of consciousness and responsibility.
Yes, we learned math but not all of us have learned business, accounting or finance. Except some of those who refrained from studying “thanaweya 3amma”. It’s highly crucial for the young minds to learn how to budget and how to save up. How to handle credit cards, learn all about credit ratings and interest rates. Because when it comes to money, the sooner a person is prepared, the better. This will teach them how to pay bills on time and how to appreciate money.
5- How to Love Learning
The educational system in Egypt doesn’t reinforce the beauty of learning for the sake of learning. Instead, it feasts upon making kids memorize information just so they can regurgitate it back on a piece of paper. We were asked to learn from teachers we didn’t like as they shoved knowledge down our throat, used fear as a motivational method and never took the time to get to know us. If teachers never took the time to be patient and playful with their students, that would be a betrayal of their task as educators.
6- How To Feel and Communicate It
I understand that John Keating is one in a million; but, damn it, we needed someone like that, someone reminding us to be human. Teachers are assigned with the job to teach their students how to communicate their feelings without blame or judgement. Teachers should instill in their students’ minds that feelings are not something to be ashamed of. To Boys, it doesn’t make you less of a man. And to girls, it doesn’t make you a mess. Emotions are not subjected to a gender. They are a human thing. You can be soft and you can be hard as long as what you are is who you are.
7- Logical Thinking
Our lives are infiltrated by logical holes and fallacies that we may not even be aware of. They creep up on us in subtle ways that sometimes go unnoticed. We were not taught how to critically think about issues in school. We were asked to sit down, not talk to our fellow students during class (even if it’s about the subject at hand), listen to the teacher, copy down everything they say, accept what we’re told and never ask why. Most teachers would reply with “3shan ana 2olt keda” when asked why couldn’t we go to the bathroom or why couldn’t we do something they didn’t want us to be doing. We should ask “why not” more often, question the universe daily, trust what we’re being told but never lose our skepticism.