Thursday, March 1, 2012

King Fahad Academy

A couple weeks ago I got an email from my friend, Helen, from Southbank International School, asking me if I would be interested in a full time teaching position at a Saudi Arabian private school. The teacher, in Year 2, was about ready to have her baby and they needed to find a replacement right away. I told her I would want to learn more about it and to forward me more of the details. The school is called King Fahad Academy and it is a Saudi Arabian private school in West London. I ended up doing a day of observations there to see if I was interested and I had a really eye opening experience.

The picture above is of King Fahad and he was a former Saudi Arabian king. The school is named after him. The school is primarily for all the Saudi Arabian diplomat children (50% of the school)whose parents are in London for work. The Saudi Arabian government funds all of their education. The rest of the children are Muslims from other parts of the world, including British Muslims.

The most interesting part of the day was at lunch time. The children eat for 20 minutes and then they go to the mosque and pray for 20 minutes. After this, play time for 20 minutes. Most of the children wear head scarfs and hair pieces, but they aren't required to. In the mornings, they stand in line and sing the Saudi Arabian anthem, and also recite some verses from the Koran. It was so interesting to see this happening right in the middle of London. A whole new world.

Throughout the week, the children go to Arabic language class, Muslim Religion Studies, and Saudi Arabian cultural classes. There are pictures of Saudi Arabian kings throughout all the halls. Most of the teachers are of middle eastern descent, but not everyone. There are a variety of other cultures as well as they are pushing for a more diverse body of staff members. They want native English speaking teachers to improve the children's English skills.

The school used to be a boys and girls school, where the boys and girls were separated for everything and never saw each other. Just in September they made a change to mix the genders in the classroom. This is a huge step for this culture and a huge change for the school. The school also has monthly visits from Saudi Arabian princes and princesses and other royal people where they speak to the children during assemblies.
Even though I loved my experiences there and thought everyone was so sweet and welcoming, I declined the offer to take the job. I realized how much more work it would be for me to be a full time teacher than to be a supply teacher and I felt a little overwhelmed. Supply teaching is nice because after 4:00 PM, I am free to do whatever I want and I don't have to think about work until the next morning. Also on weekends, I am free to play in London, spend time with Nate, and be as social as I want. I knew that taking on the role of a full time teacher would take all that free time away from me and make me so busy that I wouldn't even enjoy living in this beautiful city! Plus I know I would be completely stressed to the max. The pay was about the same for this job as supply teaching, for completely different amounts of work, so I thought to myself, probably not worth it to me at this time. But it was very tempting because I know that I would have had crazy, memorable, unique teaching experiences that I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else! Plus, can you imagine having that on a teaching resume? :) Life is full of tough decisions. Hope I made the right one!

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