Education is the most important thing that we should have in our life. Admit it or not, but it is necessary to be educated. As what it means, it is the process of acquiring or imparting knowledge at the same time, developing the powers of judgment and reasoning and prepares ourselves intellectually towards a mature life. Although we are born already with knowledge and knowledge taken from our ancestors and experiences in our lives, it is not enough to face life and to take our journey through life. We do not control the changes in the world because as time goes by, things around us are being innovated and presented as new. Our knowledge must in need of nurture and maintenance because we need to know what is all around us every day of our lives. I was born with a golden spoon in my mouth. My father is a successful businessman of an oil company. With his intimate desire for giving us a good life, he worked so hard to become successful and to give the education we need. My father always said to me, education is the most important wealth he could inherit to us aside from the wealth he already have. He believes that education is what life’s purpose that each person should learn and enjoy the knowledge they have to make life valuable and meaningful.
My father himself did not have a university degree but he values education a lot. He was very successful even though he doesn’t have a university degree how much more if he do have one? That is why my father wanted us to have a better education to learn more and fill our minds of knowledge that will make us successful someday. When I graduated from high school, I thought of following my father’s step just like what my other siblings did. I did not study in a university after that. Of course, my father was not in favor of my decision because he wanted me really to finish my education as a degree holder. I explained to my father how I value education a lot but I need also to be independent and strive hard to earn money to support my education. My father did understand me, he knew me and he trusted me at all times. I worked for three years as a businessman and enjoyed it earning and spending money of my own. Before I continue my Master of Education, I studied before French language and pursue my degree in language and translation, I was also inspired by a successful businessman so I pursue another degree in Business Administration and I completed my degree in Organizational Development in four years. Aside from my desire for teaching, I also had an experience which forced me to continue my Master of Education.
One day when I was on my way home I saw street children in front of the school watching the students having their Physical Education class. They tried to follow the steps the students did and I realize that those children need education and good educators. After that incident, my passion in teaching flashed back to me, my desire for teaching became intense that I need to enroll to continue my studies to become a good educator. I remember what my father said, money is badly needed, and we could earn more than what we need if we have education. I enrolled in M. Ed program as an international student to pursue my career as an educator. It is always my dream to be a teacher to educate people who are in need for skilled educators. The educators play a huge role in the students’ lives. Being an educator is also being a role model and a leader which his students follow him and obey the rules he implemented. We lived in Saudi Arabia and I have seen that people especially the young ones must need to be educated not only to be able to be a successful person someday but also to be able to mix in other people from other countries.
To be able to communicate with them and not to be looked like a dull one in front of them. It is very important that we have connections with the other people in other countries because we are living in this world with the needs of other peoples’ help. Saudi Arabia produces oil which is being exported into the United States of America and the students of Saudi Arabia go to America to study for a better future. In order to be a successful person in life, we need to be educated well and teach well by our teachers in school. Our parents are our first teacher, they taught us first on how to speak and pronounce the very first word refers to them, they taught us the prayers and other things around us. They became our role model, our leaders. But they admit that they could not give the best education to us so they have to send us in school. In school, we have our second parents which are our teachers. They serve as our guide to learn more knowledge and to be aware of the different aspects of life and also they are the one to show us everything in the government, the history of the nation and the world and all the values which our parents have not completely taught us. But nowadays, we could see so much difference about the relationship between child, parents and teachers.
Before I relate my own experience regarding with the relationship between schools and parents, teachers and students, there is a brief background first below about the educational system of Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia where I lived, the Saudi Educational Policy objectives is to ensure that the education becomes more efficient, to meet the religious, economic and social needs of the country and to eradicate illiteracy among Saudi adults. They are looking forward to the best education for the children and people of Saudi. There are several agencies involved in planning, administrating and implementing the overall governmental educational policy in Saudi Arabia. Education before a Kingdom was established is only available for fewer people especially the children of a wealthy family but today, there are 24 public and 8 private universities, with more planned; some 25,000 schools; and a large number of colleges and other institutions. It is open to all the citizens and provides all the students with free education, books and health services.
The study of Islam is the main core in all schools in the country and aside from this; the educational system provides also a quality instruction in diverse fields of arts and sciences. Education is a requirement for all male and female Muslims because the Holy Quran, Hadith and the practices of Prophet Muhammad emphasizes the importance of learnings. The formal primary education began in 1930’s, the first university known as King Saud University founded in Riyadh in 1957, 1954 the Ministry of Education was established and the Ministry of Higher Education in 1975. The first government for girls was built in 1964 and established in every part of the Kingdom in 1990’s. The Ministry of Education sets overall standards for the country’s educational system (public and private) and also oversees special education for the handicapped. The purpose of the government as well as the ministry of education is to give a better education to the people of Saudi. The government provides training institutes and better schools to its people.
Aside from the purpose of a better education to the students, the ministry of education also provides scholarship grants to the students studying abroad. The fact that Saudi Arabia is one of the oil rich countries, the country also wanted his people to become rich in mind. There are five levels of education in Saudi Arabia: 1. Pre-school level (nurseries and kindergartens) which is limited in its scope and exists in the cities and the larger towns only. 2. Elementary level – six grades for ages 6-12 of both sexes (separately) and leads to the General Elementary Education Certificate. 3. Intermediate level – three grades for ages 12-15 of both sexes (separately) and it leads to the Intermediate School Certificate. 4. Secondary level – three grades for ages 15-18 and it leads to the high school diploma (Tawjihiyah). It includes general education – for both sexes (separately), vocational (technical, commercial, agricultural) education and religious education – all being for males only. 5. Post-secondary and university level: eight universities – for males but with separate branches for females, separate male and female colleges, separate male and female teacher training colleges, an institute of public administration – for males but with a branch for females, higher technical institutes and higher institutions for financial and commercial sciences.
There is also technical education that includes industrial, commercial and agricultural schools. To those people who cannot afford to continue their studies up to the highest level have the chance to finish technical education in order for them to have a stable job and a stable position in the workplace. There also technical and vocational colleges as public schools. Private schools exist mainly in the larger cities. They basically teach the same curriculum and use the same books that are used in the public sector. Higher education is provided by both public and private universities that are all accredited by the ministry of higher education, so whether you are studying in public schools you could still learn like what the students in private schools learned. Regarding with the teacher education, elementary school teachers (pre-primary and primary education) must hold at least Secondary School Diploma. They are trained in junior colleges for two years and are awarded the Diploma for Junior College Training for Teachers. Students who pass with at least a B average can qualify for university entry and receive credit towards undergraduate courses.
In the secondary school teachers who teach at the intermediate and secondary levels either study for a Bachelor’s of Education at the university or complete a Bachelor’s degree course followed by a one-year Higher Diploma in Education or study abroad. In this kind of education system in Saudi Arabia, the people are given a chance to become a successful citizen of their country. But there are problems’ arising nowadays about the education in Saudi, one of these is the growing interest of so many people to study in a private education (Rachel Bronson). Why is it happening? What really are the reasons why other people needs to seek for private education and also studying abroad where they could have it in their own country? Some reason is because many of us especially those rich people wanted to have a better education for their children and also the students wanted to have a better education which they could gain through studying abroad and studying in private schools. Other reasons are because of the management of the school itself and the teachers and other staffs of the schools. The students are eager to learn but sometimes, the problem was in the teachers how well the school handles its students.
There is a problem Saudi Arabia faced about the textbook, the investigation found that the books contained messages of hatred, incitement of violence and other reprehensible teachings that are commonly found in the Saudi official religious discourse (Ali al-Ahmed 2010). I have been a student in my own country and I admit that I have found it true what Alai al-Ahmed said in his article. Even though we are all Islam in the classroom but we have different views regarding about our religion. Sometimes we fight and making our classmates our enemies because of different views we have. The religious books in Saudi schools used in several times and it has been found compromising of medieval ideological indoctrination instead of offering modern education to the students that would prepare them for the future workplace. As we all know, I excuse myself in saying this, our religion cannot help us in our everyday lives in terms of having a comfortable life in the future with our families. The world is changing and there must be more knowledge we need to know aside from the religious knowledge that are imparted by our teachers in school in our minds.
I know that this was all the ideas of the leaders of our government, of our kingdom. But the children or youth of the new generation seeks for new things that we need to learn and apply in the near future together with the other citizens of the country. We admit it or not but we are part of the world and our country belongs to the map of the world. In religion, I know that we are separated, we are different but in my own opinion I think it’s time to learn not only our religion but also the religion of other countries. We must learn to know about their culture and accept the facts about their religion. I have read the part of the book I have before about the aggressive stance against Jews and Christians which viewed as unbelievers and eternal enemies of Islam. The textbook also includes about slavery which is legitimate and younger children could be married by their fathers to adults or other children. Yes, child marriage is legal in Saudi Arabia and girls as young as four have been married in Saudi courts (Ali al-Ahmed 2010). The educational system in Saudi Arabia is good in terms of how it was managed by the different educational agencies. One thing only which is not right for me is about the teachings that were in the textbook and the learnings that were imparted to the students.
Today, I fully understand that being a role model is not being perfect in front of your audience but it is doing the right act which will not harm other people as well as yourself and give moral values to everybody around you. This now follows what we call the ‘Leadership’. Our parents were our first teachers; they taught us everything and our teachers in our school as second parents. Parents have the big responsibilities in nurturing first the minds of their children before sending them to school. With regards to what I have learned in the textbooks, parents should protect their children in all aspects of a devil acts and all harms that might endanger their children’s life. The parents’ main goals are to give a better education to the students to prepare them in the near future. After the responsibilities of the parents, it is time now for the teachers to continue what the parents have started. They teach the students about the learnings from textbooks including those I mentioned above which in need to be changed.
We students in the new generation learn a lot when it comes to new technologies; we adopt the changes brought by the new and modern world. We need more supervision from our parents and our teachers. Our teachers and our parents must communicate with each other to know what is happening to us in the school and what our improvements and developments. They must have a full conversation and an intact communication to better facilitate us in all our needs inside the school. As a student, we need to have a good leader, a role model that we will be our guide, our inspiration and our mirror to do the right thing and learn to the extent of his/her knowledge. To become a better citizen of the country, to become one of those successful people in the world the children must be guided and educated according to their needs. It started in school after at home. Children could become a good leader someday when they have leaders today that could lead them in a right way. Leadership has many meanings; first it is accomplishing tasks through others.
This is just not involved about one person as a leader in accomplishing one task but involves many members of a group to accomplish a big task that will lead to success of everybody. Leaders command, orders and he could not do it on his own but he needs to have hands to help him. Another meaning of leadership is having the dominating power over your people, it means that you could still be a leader without accomplishing any task but you are just on top of everybody’s position and lastly, leadership is directed to change and a better journey which means leaders do have the courage to stand up for his people and let themselves be heard. Even though they will take the risk but they have the courage to promote the changes they wanted. This definition of leadership challenges the status quo and gears towards a better world. But the thing here is you don’t have to hold a formal appointment to become this type of a leader. As long as you think that change is needed, then go for it and fight for it.
Leadership should also entail balance between responsibilities and handling people for a better outcome. We students, we treat our teachers and our parents as well as the leaders of the government as our leaders and role models. So, parents must do their responsibilities to their children. Even they were sent in schools, still they must provide the needs of their children in school and always be there for them when their children needs them. Teachers as leaders should give good values and exact knowledge to his/her students. The responsibility of a teacher includes taking good care of his/her students in the classroom. Not only teachers are leaders, principals are leaders of our teachers. So everyone could be a leader on their own as long as they are handling a responsibility towards the goodness of other people. Especially the students in school, teachers should have the following characters and traits as a good leader so the students could follow: learned to be prepared, trained, give orders, teach and administer, social, work with and through others, be professional, have an educational advocate and a sense of humor.
We consider the principals of the school as the leader of a public or private school. According to LOLSO or Leadership for Organisational Learning for Student Outcomes by Professor Emeritus Bill Mulford, there is a distributed leadership in school. From the principal, there is what we call the Principal’s Transformational Leadership, then Admin team Leadership and Teacher Leadership. According to Fullan (2001) the more complex society gets, the more sophisticated leadership must become. Thus, Lewis, Goodman and Fandt (1998) assert that school administrators are expected to cope with a rapidly changing world of work to be effective in their schools. For this reason, they require abilities such as being team-oriented, strong communicators, team players, problem solvers, change-makers and transformational leaders. According to Northouse (2001), in the simplest terms, transformational leadership is the ability to get people to want to change, improve, and be led. It involves assessing associates’ motives, satisfying their needs, and valuing them. Besides, some researches claim that transformational leadership is the leader’s ability to increase organizational members’ commitment, capacity, and engagement in meeting goals (Bass & Avolio, 1997; Chew & Chan, 2008; Den Hartog, House, Hanges, Ruiz-Quintanilla & Dorfman, 1997; Geijsel, Sleegers, Stoel & Krüger, 2009; Jung & Avolio, 2000; Kreitner & Kinicki, 1998; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006; Marks & Printy, 2003; Yammarino, Spangler & Bass, 1993).
Hallinger (2003) puts that transformational leadership model conceptualize leadership as an organizational entity rather than the task of a single individual. It has influences on teachers’ commitment to change in vision building, high performance expectations, developing consensus about group goals and intellectual stimulation, communication, supportive leadership, and personal recognition (see. Bono, 2000; Chew & Chan, 2008; Gronn, 1995; Leithwood & Jantzi, 2006; Leithwood et al., 2004; Nemanich & Keller, 2007). And so we have this distributed leadership towards three sectors which are the principal’s transformation, to admin and teachers towards a better leadership to be portrayed in the students. Transformational leadership has three basic functions. First, transformational leaders sincerely serve the needs of others, empower them and inspire followers to achieve great success. Secondly, they charismatically lead, set a vision, instill trust, confidence and pride in working with them. Finally, with the intellectual stimulation they offer followers of the same caliber as the leader (Castanheira & Costa, 2011).
In this model, the school becomes less bureaucratic and it functions as its own transforming agent. Instead of empowering selected individuals, the school becomes empowered as a collective unit. If a good leadership is portrayed by the principal then it will be adopted by the Admin and its teachers. There is only one main point here regarding about this leadership that we are talking about, it is all about how the students could be guided in the right way to the better future and making them as one of the assets of the nation. The three sectors of this distribution meet one goal which is the organizational learning that will be deployed all over the school and to its students. Not only the student should be given the main focus but also the community where they belong. Leaders of the school must consider the children adoption of their community to fully understand the learnings they will inherit from them not only focusing on their future but also to sharpen their minds about the needs of their surroundings. The principal must value all his staffs to provide a good communication and relationship among them.
The relationship of parents and teachers and principals must be constant because they will serve as the students’ shield to face life’s challenges. The work of the teacher includes Academic Self-Conflict, Participation and Engagement. If these three works are successfully did and acquired by the teacher, then it will lead to academic achievement, not only for himself, but most especially for his students. If we follow the LOLSO of Mulford (2013), all of these are linked to each other. A good leadership could lead to the successful academic outcome for the students, academic achievement and retention. If this happens, the students will be able to maintain the knowledge they have in mind and developed the hidden knowledge and skills they have as well as improving their academic performance when they are going to a higher education and choose their profession and also it could be helpful to them someday in the workplace. No matter where a student, teacher or principal belongs, what I mean is that whenever that you are in public schools or private schools, with a proper education and leadership is given, every one of you in the school premises will attain a successful outcome at the end of every semester. All of the students’ learnings in school could be applied at home and on their environment.
There are many ways to enact or achieve success. Social capital is about the value of social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people, with the norms of reciprocity (Dekker and Uslaner 2001; Uslaner 2001). Sander (2002, p. 213) stated that ‘the folk wisdom that more people get their jobs from whom they know, rather than what they know, turns out to be true’. Adler and Kwon (2002) identified that the core intuition guiding social capital research is that the goodwill that others have toward us is a valuable resource. As such they define social capital as ‘the goodwill available to individuals or groups. Its source lies in the structure and content of the actor’s social relations. Its effects flow from the information, influence, and solidarity it makes available to the actor’ (Adler and Kwon 2002, p. 23). Dekker and Uslaner (2001) posited that social capital is fundamentally about how people interact with each other. Social Capital must be learned by the students in school for they are going to face or socialized with other people in the near future. Even in school they are given a chance to socialize with their classmates, new classmates as well and in Saudi Arabia there are other citizens who studied there and it is a big chance for the students to make friends or socialize with their other classmates.
Students must know how to communicate with other people, the practice is needed in order to have a good socialization inside the school and in the community they belong. According to Mulford and Leithwood (2004), Social Capital in most frequently defined in terms of the groups, networks, norms, and trust that people have available to them for productive purposes. In school, there is the word ‘bonding’ which means ties to people who are similar in terms of their demographic characteristics, such as family members, neighbours, close friends and work colleagues; then ‘Bridging’ – ties people who do not share many of these characteristics, i.e., horizontal, connecting people with more or less equal social standing; and ‘Linking’ – one’s ties to people in positions of authority, such as representatives of public and private institutions, i.e., vertical, connecting people across power differentials. For schools, bonding is about within the school, the students should develop friendship inside the school and a good relationship towards their teachers as well as to the other staffs of the school.
Bridging among and between school, so there must be the needs of the cooperation of the students and teachers, principal and other staffs of the school to have links and connection to the students and linking between the school and its community so the school could have positioned the students to the community where they belong and students could be aware of the relationship between the community and schools. In conclusion, a strong parent-teachers relationship is a key to make a student become a good person inside and out. The school which does have good leaders and role models will be ideal for the students who study there. [In contrast to current politicians, school leaders need to remember] president Harry Truman’s dictum that ‘You can accomplish anything in life provided you don’t mind who gets the credit’. (p. 193) so it means that being a leader, the importance of achieving something differs with you. It is not for someone or on anything but it’s for you.
It depends on how you work for yourself and how you work for other [people. If you are a leader of a school, it relies on your hands the learnings and academic achievements of the students. Being a good leader with a very good will to provide its students more knowledge and teach them more than what the book gives you is better. Sometimes, the book doesn’t cover everything a person could learn. Sometimes, a book might be wrong. There are still human minds, intelligent people who have learned through experience and not based on anything aside from their life experiences. Success depends on which areas the leader chooses to focus time and attention, and if teachers or the principals or any other leaders who manages the school focus on the goals of nurturing well their students, then the success of their students will be also their success. Of course, we could have leaders in the lower sectors if we have good leaders that we could rely on in times of difficulties in the nation which is on the higher position and I am referring to the government. The situation of the people of the country must be given focus, the needs and other things people needed in their life.
A nation is composed of the people so there should be a leader who could fight for his people and give his people a better life. With regards about the Saudi Arabia textbook, school principals and teachers as leaders could change it on their own. Their ways of teaching are very important. It’s up to them on how they could teach their students and what to teach to their students. Their students’ knowledge relies on them. I belong to the Saudi Arabia nation and I feel like it’s about to change the ways of teaching there especially the learnings that is taught to the students. It is important to learn the religious ways, the Quran, but the world is changing. It is not only that we live by our own selves, by or own country but we admit it or not but we need the help of other countries. Although we are one of the oil rich countries but we have needs that other countries could only provide. It’s time I think to change the learnings in my country, the teaching of other religions should be taught to the students, not actually to be adopted but only just for awareness about other people’s religion.
There is nothing to lose in learning others people’s life, religion and culture. It is only a way of learning things beyond the limitation. Hopefully the government of my country should realize it and give the students the freedom to learn more about the world. Leaders below who are incapable of pursuing this are the teachers in schools; they have the voice towards these changes. And if this happens, they could help every student who is going to enrol in their school as well as to the newly born children in the country to see the real world inside and outside the country. I have said it because I have been in other countries for studies and I learned about others’ culture and religion and it is a good feeling that I became a part of their lives and I’m happy to know them. I feel free and hope other children and other people back to my country who are poor and cannot afford to have a better education outside the country could be given a chance to have knowledge and experiences I have learned outside Saudi Arabia.
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