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"Teaching" philosophy at Sabis/Choueifat schools
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 3955
Location: Terra firma

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:43 am    Post subject: "Teaching" philosophy at Sabis/Choueifat schools Reply with quote

Choueifat School director looks back on almost 40 years of expert educating in the UAE
By Naser Al Wasmi, The National | June 5, 2014
Source: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/education/choueifat-school-director-looks-back-on-almost-40-years-of-expert-educating-in-the-uae

ABU DHABI // As one of the oldest private schools in the UAE, International School of Choueifat has had a comparatively long time to perfect its educational system.

Ramzi Germanos, the regional director for the Arabian Gulf region, believed that the school had prospered because of its record of getting the best out of its pupils. Mr Germanos began his career as a fresh graduate teacher in 1960 at the original Choueifat School, in the village on the outskirts of Beirut after which the school is named. After steadily rising through the ranks, he was part of a group of teachers that came to the UAE to help establish the first overseas school in Sharjah in 1976, followed by Abu Dhabi in 1978 and then Al Ain in 1980. Since then, the company has grown rapidly and there are now more than 70 establishments in the Middle East, North America, Europe and Asia.

Mr Germanos, a Lebanese national, said the school had never shirked from the challenge of turning average pupils into high-achieving university students. “Some schools are selective, in the sense that they take the best students. We are not selective, parents bring us students and all we require is that the child can talk, if these conditions are met we take the child and we teach him and take them to a very high academic level,” Mr Germanos said.

The school’s system – known as Sabis – means almost all the material used in the curriculum is published in-house, as Mr Germanos believes that textbooks from external sources fail to effectively teach pupils because of publishers’ ulterior commercial purposes.

“We don’t use books from outside because they are not meant to take the students to the next level, these books are made by publishers, whose aim is to sell, so they put a lot of interesting things in these books. The outcome is that the essentials get lost in a sea of interesting things, you see, our books are slim and focused,” Mr Germanos said. As a karate enthusiast, Mr Germanos likened education to the martial arts, where those who practise are not allowed to diverge from form until they have mastered the skills.

“You have to perfect movement, no creativity, when you punch you punch a certain way, you block in a certain way. Only after you reach Third Dan must you demonstrate a new technique in front of your seniors, only then are you able to create new things, when you have a background.”

The school’s system also involves weekly tests to make sure pupils have thoroughly understood the subject matter. Pupils take these weekly tests on computers, then grades are calculated through a series of monitoring and evaluation programmes. The grades are passed on to heads of departments and school directors, but not the teachers. As such, these weekly assessments are as much a test for the teachers as they are for the pupils.

“We are not only bridging gaps for students, we are bridging gaps in teachers, this system ensures that students become better students and teachers become better teachers,” Mr Germanos said. In weekly meetings teachers who are underperforming are assessed to determine the reasons for their classes’ low scores. All tests are standardised, so responsibility for failure lies with the teacher for not teaching the curriculum properly.

There is a lot of testing at in the school – about 35 tests a week. Mr Germanos does not think this is excessive, saying it actually makes learning easier for pupils. “With no tests you are really moving in darkness and it’s a matter of luck when you come to the external exam. With us there is no luck, because you know you know everything,” he said. With many pupils gaining places at top universities, some could argue the school specialises only in turning good pupils into great ones. Not so, said Mr Germanos. “Students who are outstanding will pass whether they are with us or anyone else, students who are average will benefit greatly from our system, we don’t leave gaps.”

(End of article)
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lcanupp1964



Joined: 12 Dec 2009
Posts: 319
Location: Jeddah, KSA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"...no creativity..."

When I read that part in the article, I had to stop reading. It made my eyes roll back so fast that I thought I saw my brain.
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Working there would surely kill one's creativity. Razz

The statement that stuck out for me was: "In weekly meetings teachers who are underperforming are assessed to determine the reasons for their classes’ low scores. All tests are standardised, so responsibility for failure lies with the teacher for not teaching the curriculum properly." Yikes! Shocked
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eihpos



Joined: 14 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only lasted about 3 months in the Abu Dhabi school a few years ago and it was the worst teaching experience I've ever had. It was partly my own fault, as I hadn't done any research before going. I couldn't teach the students as they were completely out of control and didn't listen to a word I said! Consequently, they didn't perform well in tests and I felt severely under pressure over it. I thought that maybe it was because I wasn't experienced with large classes in a secondary school setting. So, I observed a few classes with a teacher who know how to control them, in the hope that I could get a few tips. What I saw was similar to a military drill - she commanded, they obeyed. She had a stick to scare them if they did anything wrong (There was also a scary guard type bloke monitoring the hallway to hit them if they did anything really bad) There was no creativity, no smiling, no interaction. It was terrible! I then understood why they students acted like lunatics when they came into the new teacher's classes. There were a few teachers who fared better with managing them that me, but even they were dissatisfied with the who regime. I gave up teaching after it (well, for a few months!)

Last edited by eihpos on Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
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Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The scary big bloke patrolling the corridors looking for someone to punch in the stomach seems to be the favoured disciplinary policy of some schools in the region.
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MuscatGary



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 797
Location: Flying around the ME...

PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PC Parrot wrote:
The scary big bloke patrolling the corridors looking for someone to punch in the stomach seems to be the favoured disciplinary policy of some schools in the region.


I saw three scary big blokes, off-duty cops masquerading as bouncers, beat the sh*t out of an Omani drunk last night in a major 5* hotel....


Last edited by MuscatGary on Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eihpos wrote:
What I saw was similar to a military drill - she commanded, they obeyed. She had a stick to scare them if they did anything wrong (There was also a scary guard type bloke monitoring the hallway to hit them if they did anything really bad) There was no creativity, no smiling, no interaction. It was terrible!

Like Berlitz, I suspect that previous experience with Sabis/Choueifat doesn't impress any of the better employers.
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
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Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All I can say is my Chinese step daughter came from China at age 15, attended the International School of Choueifat in Abu Dhabi, and somehow got a superb education. They started her with 5 hours daily of English along with the rest of the curriculum. Her teachers, (mostly Irish), did a very good job in bringing her along to a level high enough that when she began attending High School in the USA, she was considerably more advanced than her peers.

She is now attending dental school and is doing quite well. (Maybe this is just the Chinese cultural trait of excelling in academics).
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16003
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2buckets wrote:
(Maybe this is just the Chinese cultural trait of excelling in academics).

That certainly is a crucial factor that is missing in so many of the Gulf students. I suspect that she would have done well, no matter what the system.

VS
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
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Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were few Gulf students at her school. 146 different nationalities were represented, most of them from countries that promote academic excellence.

Her "posse" contained the children of the Italian and Korean ambassadors as well as various other embassy dependents. I considered that a good recommendation.
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El Hobo



Joined: 28 Sep 2012
Posts: 40
Location: Iraqi-Kurdistan

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

2buckets wrote:
Her "posse" contained the children of the Italian and Korean ambassadors as well as various other embassy dependents.


Frankly, I just don't believe you.
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
Posts: 349
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

El Hobo:

That's your option, but what do I gain by not telling the truth.
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eihpos



Joined: 14 Dec 2008
Posts: 198

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it's true, maybe the mixed nationality classes better facilitate learning. When I worked in the Abu Dhabi school, the students were all from The Gulf (and often spoke Arabic to each other throughout class) except one Canadian boy who was the most diligent worker in his year! That was in 2007 though.
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
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Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She was there from 2005 to 2008. Maybe you knew her, MOD EDIT

Maybe I'm wrong about Gulf Arabs. When I dropped her off and picked her up at the school, I never saw any dish-dashes. Maybe they wore western dress. My daughter never mentioned Gulf Arabs being there. Perhaps she was in advanced honors classes which Gulf Arabs may not have had a presence. Also, maybe she wasn't familiar enough with local culture to distinguish Gulf Arabs from other Arabs.

All that being said, she liked the school, teachers and her fellow students.

The embassy dependents often picked her up in embassy cars with drivers that took them to the Marina Mall, where they would hang out, skateboard, eat at the food court and generally do all the activities that teenaged children do at malls all over the world.
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
Posts: 349
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

El Hobo, Location: Iraqi-Kurdistan

Militants Overrun Government Headquarters in Large Iraq City
http://online.wsj.com/articles/militants-seize-provincial-hq-in-mosul-city-iraq-1402387098?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

How close are you to Mosul? How is it affecting life there?

I was in Iran before during, and after the revolution. My unsolicited advice is to have an exit strategy.

Of course you don't have to believe me on this either.
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