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One of the reasons for which you ultimately became a teacher, however, is the way by which you were taught. You came to realise that teaching is a political act at the heart of which lies political change. You became a teacher to rectify things. Because you had a great responsibility towards the future. As a teenager, you attended an average boys’ public school in a suburban area of a small city in the northeast of Jordan. It was a school where English was not obligatory until the sixth grade. A school where you were taught to stand up for your superiors as they walked into class, and where any eye-contact was frowned upon. A school where you were inspected for your haircut, nails, and shoes but not your concerns. A school where it mattered more where you are from than who you are. A school where the science teacher taught geography, sports, and Islamic religion, too. A school where you were grabbed by the ears and pulled up, hit repeatedly on the knuckles and slapped on the face for not remembering the capital of Cambodia. And for that you never forgot the capital of Cambodia. A school where philosophy was marginalised by religion. And where you had to wait in queues to urinate because toilets were busy with concealed homosexual activities. A school where during winter you had to wear layers and layers of wool and cotton because there was no central heating, double-glazed windows, or even curtains. A school where the drawing studio was used as a canteen by teachers during lunch-time only. A school where there was no awareness of the disconnection between the teaching curriculum and societal needs. A school where the story always goes with Mr Ali in the office, while Mrs Ali is always in the kitchen. A school where most teachers finished classes 15 to 20 minutes earlier so that they could exploit parents and students in highly expensive private classes outside the school. A school where all music classes were spent teaching you how to play the national anthem. A school where it was always easier to deny and reject than debate and accept. A school where the quiet boy was always neglected. A school where you were always asked what to do, but never did anyone ever do what you asked: to listen. A school where your colleagues were scolded for being overtaken in class by a Palestinian student.

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Akram Al Deek

Professor Al Deek is Vice Dean of the Faculty of Languages and Communication, Head of the Department of English Language and Literature, and the Department of Translation, and Assistant Professor of World literatures at The American University of Madaba, Jordan.

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