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School projects incompatible with students' abilities   

Oman Daily Observer - 29 May, 2012
Author: Abdulaziz al Jahdhami

From the very beginning, let me ask this question not to teachers only, but to parents and everyone else. What is the real meaning of education and learning? Is it just a matter of spoon-feeding the students with different concepts or issues that are covered in the academic curricula? Even if it is so, the material must be taught in a very enlightening way to achieve certain objectives or at least to enable students learn new things?
We all realise and appreciate the important role played by education in each and every nation; it provides a country with a skilful and responsible manpower capable of co-operating and interacting in many ways. Each country must have a sound education system in a bid to meet the challenges of globalisation. Thus, manpower has to be skilled and well-educated.
In fact, the effective education is the one that strives to ensure learning of good knowledge, ethics, social ethics and daily lifestyle to students. Feeding students with knowledge only is not enough; education should include enlightening children in all walks of life according to their age and level of understanding. The multi-experiences in education process help children to bring up with ample critical thinking and understanding which will help them choose their field of study in future from an early age.
Therefore, teachers should take their sacred job seriously and conduct their classes and tasks in a professionally sincere way. I wish teachers will not misunderstand my point of view here when I talk about their professionalism, effectiveness or ways of teaching. While saying this, I don’t tend to generally criticise teachers, I don’t even think about it! I believe most of the teachers do their teaching profession perfectly, but there are others who might be unskilful or lack some experience and teaching techniques.
There is no doubt that those teachers with inadequate experience will be good and skilful teachers some day. By the time they get more involved in the teaching environment, they will definitely obtain the required skills and techniques. It is just a matter of time, courage and interest.
What encouraged me to write this is mainly the way in which teachers assign the educational projects which are conducted by students. I came to know that students are asked to conduct different kinds of projects and researches at school such as writing, designing, drawing and making different art works. Generally, the school projects are assigned to students in order to teach them different skills or approaches depending on the field of study or subject.
Among the most attractive and popular school assignments to students are the fine arts projects. Nobody can deny that such artistic projects form a distinguished thrill to students and help improving their imaginative skills and critical thinking. They could also instil them with new skills and practical techniques in drawing, designing or some other arts.
It is good to add innovation and inspiration while introducing new fine arts activities to students, but they should be assigned to students in reasonable and doable way. Otherwise, such tasks will be a challenge and another burden to students and their families alike.
The carving projects, in particular, require special skills and tools; it is really difficult and unaffordable by school students. First of all, the carving skills are not being taught at school or the teachers themselves are unaware of them. Even if such skills are part of the curricula and it is a must for students to learn, they need enough time to acquire the basic skills.
In order to sufficiently complete the carving project, students tend to get the support of professionals in town to help them accomplish the mission. Nothing is done free of charge! As it is said, “Risk it to get the biscuit”. In this case, parents should share the burden of completing this task; they need to buy a piece of wood at first and then bring it home for the child to draw a particular scene. Then, the piece will be given to the carpenter to carve the drawings on that slice of wood.
Do you know how much time it takes to finish one carving project? At minimum expectations, each piece of wood will take around one week to be perfectly completed. The carving process itself, sometimes, takes between 2-3 days because the carpenter will be busy with other things at the workshop. When it comes to the carving cost, it ranges between RO 2-4 for one project excluding the price of the piece of wood which costs about RO 1.
Thus, the project is estimated to cost around RO 2-5 from each student. Just imagine if 2 or 3 children from the same family are assigned similar project. The parents might spend about RO 10-15 just to meet the requirements of their children’s school projects for one course only!
I believe this could be another business and source of income for carpenters who are getting advantage of the school students. Students will end up learning nothing, even the drawing thing could be done by any of their elder brothers or sisters. Therefore, such projects will lose their values and importance to the students. For the teachers, as long as students submitted their projects, the burden is released and mission accomplished!
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