Thursday, 6 October 2011

I Don't Know About This....

Undercover Dragon has recently blogged about the new transparent selection of students who will be able to go abroad for scholarships. 
It set me thinking about whether or not this is a good idea and what, if any, are the motivations of doing it. 

Is there a certain element of a pending 'I told you so' from the movers and shakers at Diwan level? There is no doubt that His Majesty is exceptionally wise in these affairs. 
Have a ponder on this...

If you take the general opinion of the quality of Omani middle and high-school students and you run it in tandem with Linoleum Surfer's article about Omani youth that he wrote a few weeks ago, there is a window into the potential downside to sending 'unconnected' kids overseas. 

My preference is to maintain the status quo and send the wastafarians to university and here is why. 
The privileged kids in Oman have always been that way, have always had the best of education and are used to being in an environment where you have to work. There is no way that an English, Australian or German college is going to accept low levels of work and by default these kids have grown up in an international culture where they learn about the financial merits of hard work.

On the other hand, Ahmed Al Mawalah has grown up in a school system that has shown him that it doesn't matter if he passes or fails, and average is fine anyway. 
It is too late for Ahmed, as he's already been hard-wired since the age of five to not give a toss about school.

The solution might be to send younger kids to top-end primary schools to first of all develop that "good teachers + hard work = success" equation, rather than trying to change the attitude of older kids that are already well established on the mediocrity curve.

The following passage by mountaineer Mark Twight is still sounding in my head four weeks after reading it:

The inverse of going to Chamonix – where powerful people pushed me to become more powerful myself – is staying in (insert hometown here) with those who don't do anything. I cannot progress and grow and become by starting from "below" – one does not rise much above the mean level around him. Worse, if I come back here and I arrive strong and proud and free after having been transformed in another place, I'll descend to the mean level around me sooner or later. Perhaps I’ll experience a short period of minor notoriety among people who don't matter because they aren't my peers but I’ll weaken just the same. A man becomes what is common around him.

One role-models what he sees daily and if it's shit he sees it is shit he becomes; unless he is really strong and I'm not. I would spend just enough energy to be a little bit better – but insufficient to open the gates to real power. This is why the elite strive to remain so, why they form clubs to exclude, and write stringent laws regarding the qualities of club members: they want those around them to be like them, not weaker. They want their efforts among the strong to breed more strength. Strength is contagious. Weakness too infects. Those who insist a zero counts for something give the zero value by doing so. The elite don't want their attitude and imperative polluted by zeroes. 

Of course, you can stagnate anywhere at any time.

Just a thought.


Anonymous said...


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The Linoleum Surfer said...

It's got to be worth trying at least, MJD: by definition of a "transparent" system, the ones who get the chance will at least have had the focus to get high grades in their "thanawiya 3ama". They will find it tough, but they've earned a chance based on limited opportunities they can't change.

As for the "wastafarians" (nice!), they will get to go anyway because they can afford it. And if they're parents are paying, they might get more pressure to perform as a result too.

A win-win I say, or at the very least a worthwhile experiment.

Jet Driver said...

Wise words!