Academic Writing: What do students want out of school?



What do students want out of school?

    What I expect from school? It seems to me a philosophic question such what you expect from life? Or what you expect from marriage?  If I was asked this question 20 years ago, I could answer that I want to be doctor to make a lot of money. As humans, we have a phenomenal ability to adapt to life’s situations. Our expectations are changing depending on external or internal factors.

    In primary school, my only goal was to have good grades to satisfy my teachers first and then my parents. To understand this concept, I have to introduce you to part of my cultural heritage. Having pursued elementary and middle school in Morocco; we were taught since early age that a teacher is person who knows everything. We have to obey to him in every educational aspect because he is not just teaching us knowledge but also good manners. This is why the Ministry is called Ministry of Education and Good Manners. The educators take over when parents fail. You may see parents asking them for help because they not able to handle their kid any more.

    In High School, it was not about what you expecting from your instructor, it was about what he expects from you. He is the one deciding if you pass or fail the class. Most of time asking questions was a difficult exercise because instead of explain the instructors will blame you for not being attentive. They use to give us the impression of having the ultimo knowledge; arguing with them or even presenting your simple opinion was synonym of disrespect. How can you develop ideas and personalities in this context? You going to form a frustrated generation, such generation will find a way not always the right one to evacuate this stress and pressure.

    Our only expectation was to get the High school diploma to reach good schools in Morocco or to flee the country to Europe our supposed Eldorado.

     When I went to college in France, I had to adjust myself to new situation. I was agreeably surprise by the quality of education. The qualification and professionalism of the faculty members was phenomenal. I was free to ask questions and to argue with teachers. I was glad to find passionate educators, who like their job and not doing it just for the salary. They were motivated by leaving their knowledge to a new generation, hopping that one of us will fellow their dreams and maybe make a phenomenal scientific discovery. They had faith on us, it was a new concept for me .The professors were available all time and enjoyed the students visit to their laboratories. I remember being so eager of knowledge that I went to visit every single laboratory in the chemistry department.

    My expectations in this period were beyond to get a degree from a French University, now I was thirsty of knowledge. I had the feeling of being sponge absorbing everything to compensate the time lost. However, I discovered that I still use the same methods learned since early age. I learned how to collect information from a variety of sources, compile them and take only the pertinent information because the teachers will not help you anyways. I learned how to be self-motivated to reach my goals because we did not hear any motivation word from any teacher. These skills took over one more time; they were as second nature. They allowed me to succeed where others failed. They also allowed me to raise my standards in this adequate context.

    Coming to the United States, I had to adjust one more time my expectations. Now I have to pay to go to college! As normal as it may seem to you Americans; it was a choc for me. During all my educational curses, I enjoyed the benefit of public schools. I had to raise my standards because I’m paying the teachers’ salary .I have the impression that I’m customer and the school has to satisfy my expectations or I will look for another competitor. Logically, we may think by spending more money on school we must have high performances among the students. However, a study conducted by French and American researchers show that even if the United States spends approximately 40% more per student than France; French students are ahead of US students in most academic areas except science.

    After all this years, Expectations seem to me as big word. We all expect things from schools, teachers and the educational system. The question is what we really expect from ourselves. How can we rely on instructors skills like professionalism, qualification and motivation to succeed in school? It’s the responsibility of everyone to go beyond the traditional educational system based on students “receptor” and teachers “transmitter” to succeed in this new era and be able to compete with students all over the world.                   


Professor Carol Panaccione, Sandra AB Arnold, Who Does a Better Job Educating Their Children?The United States vs France, May 8, 2001. Foreign Language Honors Project, Sep 20,2011.