MISSING CLASSES and the MIDDLE EAST
by Kevin Stoda,
According to Alexander Astin's work on improving student involvement and his work towards a better theory of tertiary developmental education, "If an institution commits itself to achieving maximum student involvement, counselors and other student personnel workers will probably occupy a more important role in institutional operations. Because student personnel workers frequently operate on a one-to-one basis with students, they are in a unique position to monitor the involvement of their clients in the academic process and to work with individual clients in an attempt to increase that involvement. One of the challenges confronting student personnel workers these days is to find a "hook' that will stimulate students to get more involved in the college experience: taking a different array of courses, changing residential situations, joining student organizations, participating in various kinds of extracurricular activities, or finding new peer groups."
Alas, in both paternalistic and traditional tribal societies of all kinds, the university and schools are not emphasized as places where students belong so much as a place where they simple must go to in order to obtain a diploma, which will buy them a rung in their next position in life.
TEACHING IN SUCH SOCIETIES
Since 1999, I have taught in 3 Middle Eastern
countries. I have taught primarily at
the tertiary level but have also taught at the primary and secondary levels. In every one of these locations--i.e., in
As a professional in the field of international development in education, I have been concerned with this matter for several reasons. On the one hand, the problem of absenteeism limits the students' foreign language acquisition. The one main reason for this deficit is that time-on-task undertaking ever-more-difficult exercises (or activities) is considered the number one variable in second language acquisition world-wide. (Krashen, 2003)
On the other hand, the habits which one enquires in one's youth often continue to dominate later in life. So, if I am not concerned with the short-term problems of absenteeism, the long-term results of absenteeism should be of my greatest concern. For example, absenteeism amongst Gulf nationals in Oman, Kuwait, and UAE personnel has been so high historically that foreign and national firms do not often like to hire them--and often give them jobs of few consequence because of the fear of high absenteeism and lack of commitment to being on the job when needed.