Lessons from a high school class

Lessons from a high school class

I’m lucky enough to have a brilliant 16yo friend here in Jordan who gracefully and enthusiastically complied with my desire to spend a morning in high school with her and her classmates. It was a beautiful, beautiful experience I’m still elaborating now, but here’s a few of my thoughts in their gestation phase:

  1. RELIGION. In a country where an estimated 93% of the population is Muslim and only 3-6% Christian, a town of around 85,000 has a co-religious school, just next to a Greek Orthodox church and close to a mosque, where classes don’t bear any religious symbol at all, the girl in the hijab sits next to the girl with a cross pendant, and everything just feels normal. Oh, and wait- the school’s days off are Fridays and Sundays, so that Muslims and Christians can both fully dedicate their holy days to their faith. In front of such an example, it blows my mind that the vast majority of Europe (at the very least! I just mention Europe because it’s the continent I know best) is still there debating crucifixes and headscarves, oscillating between the abolition of religion class and its extremist variants, and overall finding exaggerated controversy in something that really doesn’t call for it. Can’t we just copy something that works when we see it? Or am I overlooking any important detail here?
  2. GENDER. These 16yo girls study how to programme in C++ and know more maths than I ever have and perhaps ever will. A good reason to stop generalizing about gender issues in certain countries? Sure, it’s one school. I’ve been in one class. Bla this and bla that… but that class and that school exist and I bet you my secret chocolate stash that you wouldn’t’ve expected Jordan to teach its girls advanced scientific subjects. Why I don’t know, but for some unconscious reason it surprised me too. Stuff to think about…
  3. SOCIETY. In class I noticed there were two shoeboxes decorated with festive paper. When I asked about them, I was told evasively that “some of the students are from lower income families…”. The way I figured it out (and mind you, I might be wrong), other kids may put money in those boxes as a sort of Christmas present for those students. Now, at first I just thought Oh, what a sweet idea! but then thinking about it again I’m not sure I would like that if I were one of those shoebox kids: isn’t it like a giant arrow patronisingly pointed at you? Or is it just nice to get some extra money? …but from your classmates?!? I don’t know. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts…

I’m deeply grateful for these valuable inputs, for the girls’ vitality and passion in building themselves a future they like, for the motivational sentences on the class walls, and for the super sweet plush toys they gave me and my friend as souvenirs. May we all never stop thinking and learning 😉

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