I have been a substitute teacher for the past 3 days, I have found these Saudi ladies to be incredibly smart with grammar rules. They point out prepositions, pronouns, and past participles with ease. Honestly, I have to think twice about these rules… But their main issue seems to be with creative thinking, like making their own sentences/stories. I received an interesting explanation of this, from a senior teacher:
These girls spend all of their years in religious schools, where they are asked to memorize rules and the Koran. Ask of any passage, and they are likely to quote it word for word. Therefore, excelling has always been tied to rules of some sort of book. So when it’s time for them to voice their own opinion… sadly, they don’t seem to have one. This is my first impression, though. And being in a prep university, especially if they want to survive universities abroad, having an opinion is necessary.This is what I would love to teach them! However, this does not seem like the best country for free-thinkers. My teacher orientation was compiled of “don’t do”s.. and in short, I can’t mention anything connected to politics (women’s ban on driving, gender segregation), religion (which involves every aspect of their life), or even the word “pork”. So when I give examples to explain a definition, or when I ask or answer questions… it’s smart to think like a Saudi Muslim, so not to offend or revolutionize anyone.. especially since we don’t know when/if we’re teaching one of the Saudi princesses.
I believe I actually taught one today.. During the last 10 minutes of class, we’ve been having open discussion. After they asked about my small family (1 brother and 1 sister).. one girl who had a certain air about her, says that she has 16 brothers and sisters (her father has 2 wives). Besides ‘The Duggars’, Saudis often have large family sizes. I was also asked whether or not I had boyfriend. Arab muslim answer, “No”.. Then, came the trick question. “Teacher, do you have children?” .. Me: “How can I have children, if I’m not married???”.. “Oh, yes, yes.. right!” ..
Gotta keep thinking on my feet!