My name is Saeed. I was born in 1998 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and grew up there to date. I attended a British kindergarten and elementary school but later attended an American middle and high school, both being private schools. My middle school and high school were gender segregated because they only admitted boys. I studied in English since all the subject we were taught at school, including math, science and social studies were taught in English. However, my first language is Arabic and I also took some Arabic classes. I performed really well throughout my school years. I was mostly a shy/introvert kid but had good manners and the teachers loved me. I come from a middle-class family. Although most of my teachers were white American or British, the student population was diverse, especially in the elementary school. The mentality and culture of the parents is that academics is not at the top of the priority list. They all believed that the family should come first in all aspects of life. This culture did not affect me because I did not mind attending school, a feature which made me a good student. My siblings were different as they would sometimes go to school late or even ditch school and there won’t be any serious consequences from my parents. Due to the small population of Emiratis and the abundant work opportunities, there isn’t a sense of competition in United Arab Emirates compared to other countries. This affected the Emiratis by making them unmotivated to study and work hard, though the situation has already changed since there is a growing sense of competition.
Theme 1: Socioeconomic status / Social class
Moment 1: Public schools vs private schools.
Throughout my education, I attended private schools, a factor which made me perform well academically. Many people argue that children who attend private schools and speak English are better or smarter in the perspective of society, a feature they display through their high performance in school. From my performance, I conclude that this belief is correct because of my experience in school, especially my high performance and good relationship with teachers who came from American or British races. Research has proved that in regard to schooling, a majority of private schools are either American or British. In my home country, most private schools were American or British, a situation which made me to join such institutions throughout my schooling. The dominance of teachers of British and American origin makes these schools to use English as the teaching language.
The impact of culture on children education and performance was evident in my family. The parents in our community are less concerned about the education of their children as they consider family matters as of great importance than education. My parents’ lack of interest on the education of my siblings and I is evidenced by their disregard of my siblings’ frequent lateness in going to school late or even failure to attend school. Social scientists have established that parenting practices influence their children’s chances of success (Lareau, 2002). These findings illustrate the importance of parental participation, especially through guidance in enhancing the academic performance of children (Lareau, 2002). As a result, the experts advise parents to heed to the views of professionals regarding how they should manage their children’s education. Nevertheless, some experts argue that the calls for adherence to professional advice are not common in all professionals’ findings regarding the intrinsic importance of the modern-day childrearing standards and the findings presented in historical record, which indicate frequent shifts in such standards over time (Lareau, 2002). This situation is a reflection of my situation since my parents have not contributed to my performance in school. Although my parents are not concerned with my education, I am always committed to my studies and I have continually performed excellently since I started schooling.
The major difference between public and private schools in the United Arab Emirates is the language of instruction. While private schools use English as the language for teaching the different subjects, all public schools use an Arabic curriculum which entails the use of the Arabic language in the teaching of all subjects. Emirati private schools have an extensive influence of American and British education ideologies due to the dominance of British and American teachers in the schools, a factor that has led to the use of English language in such institutions. Deficit teaching and learning approaches have reverberated across the United States’ education system for decades (Paris & Alim, 2014). The approaches consider the languages, cultural ways, and literacies of many students and communities of color as the shortcomings that should be overcome if the learners are to learn the cultural ways of being, dominant language, and literacy demanded in schools (Paris & Alim, 2014). This belief has influenced the teaching mode in Emirati private schools which are more European compared to the public schools. Many academic experts have opposed this ideology on the basis that it draws over-deterministic relationships between race and language, cultural practice, and literacy. Proponents of educational justice propose the maintenance and fostering of pluralist teaching modes as these options help instructors to understand the ways young people are adopting language, race, ethnicity, cultural practices, and literacy both traditional and evolving ways (Paris & Alim, 2014). This is the situation in a most private schools in the United Arab Emirates, which ignore the Arabic language of the local communities and adopt English, a foreign language.
There is abundant research touching on the asset pedagogy and practice with a focus on the racialized and culturally positioned heritage practices of different communities. However, a majority of the recent studies have opposed the tendency of practitioners and researchers to believe in the existence of a unidirectional relationship between language, race, cultural ways of being, and ethnicity (Paris & Alim, 2014). Research has shown that these beliefs have resulted in the unfortunate simplification of asset instructions as being entirely about factoring the heritage or traditional practices of non-white students in teaching while simultaneously disregarding the changing and evolving practices of their communities (Paris & Alim, 2014). This situation has led resulted in the oversimplification of what teachers are trying to maintain as only, for instance, Spanish among Latino students or African American Language for African American learners, a one-to-one matching language with race (Paris & Alim, 2014). This oversimplification is applied to other aspects of the communities, for example, where communities of cultural practice, that include Hip Hop, are considered to be just a cultural resource for teaching with non-white students, mostly the blacks and brown (Paris & Alim, 2014). However, some studies have discovered that the youth are developing new linguistically and culturally deft strategies of becoming competent in other aspects beyond their traditions.
Moment 2: Due to my parent’s financial capability, middle-class, I could prepare and attend classes for standardized tests such as the SAT and the toefl, an English test for non-English speakers. This situation reflects research findings that indicate that the parents’ occupations, especially the intricacy of their work, impact on their childrearing beliefs (Lareau, 2002). Apart from the parents’ work mattered, the experience of adulthood also influences the conduct of parents towards their children’s education (Lareau, 2002). My parents are educated and understand the importance of education. Although they have been influenced by the society’s customs which consider education of lower significance compared to family relationship and issues, a factor which make them to disregard my siblings’ lateness and failure to attend school, they have financed my education. Awareness and advisory on university applications due to me attending a private school.
My exposure to education enabled me to gain knowledge on how to apply for universities abroad, and managed to study and get tutoring for standardized tests in order to qualify for those universities. This capability was facilitated by my interaction with British and American teachers who have consistently advised me on how to improve my academic performance and ways of advancing my education, including applying for admission in foreign universities. The racial classifications that educators use to monitor student outcome data reflect our society’s social construction of race.
All the schools I joined, from kindergarten to high school were racially inclusive, because although the teachers were British and American, children from different races and cultures were taught using the English language. Although many researchers have established that best performance among students can be realized through the establishment of student groups based on their capabilities, including those that have been historically marginalized, disenfranchised, or oppressed (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). These researchers argue that without the existence of data highlighting the impact of race, culture, and gender among many other attributes, it would be difficult to establish the challenges arising from race-based institutional and societal elements that benefit certain groups, for instance the widespread U.S. exercise of student tracking based on ability (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). In their view, the lack of education information regarding to racial, gender, and ethnic categories of the students, educational institutions would not be able to evaluate the positive impact management programs have had on different groups of learners (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). However, the combination of students from various racial, cultural and ethnic features did not cause any difficulty in the learning of the different learners. My situation, including those of other students in my school invalidates this argument because although all students, including me were not Britons or American, many of use performed well. Our tutors used the English language in their instructions and despite being an Arabian, performed well in class in all activities, including examinations, communication, and relationship with the multicultural environment at school. This scenario supports the arguments of anthropologists who indicate that races do not exist because there is no scientific backing the existence of differences in the academic performance of individuals from different racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). This argument, which is common among contemporary scientists maintain that that races are not scientifically true, rejects at least three major grounds of this old racial ideology. They oppose the archaic subspecies concept, the divisibility of modern-day humans into biological groups that are scientifically, and the relationship between racial traits and cultural, social, and political status (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). These experts assert that there are no distinct and archaic human subgroups. The first foundation anthropologists reject is the argument that humans were originally subdivided, by nature or God, into a small set of biologically distinct, races, fixed species, or subspecies (Mukhopadhyay & Henze, 2003). Through research, anthropologists have established, through fossil and DNA examinations, that present-day humans are one variable species, with varied origins. .
o Moment 3: Since my parents were not fluent in English and had an Arabic education, they had to hire tutors to help me with homework and schoolwork, which is not the case for people from low income families
Theme 2: Sexuality:
o Moment 1: Model United Nations (club at my highschool, which was gender segregated) got cancelled because boys and girls are not allowed to be in the same room.
o Moment 2: This was practiced sometimes in schools: Calling school mates “fags” (not used as a derogatory term), example: when someone bothers you
o Moment 3: In some conservative families, girls not expected/(allowed) to study abroad.
. My experience at Heathrow Airport opened me up to the idea that anyone is capable of being a political subject in the day to day interactions. It gives a perfect example of the concurrent operation of power, authority, and legitimacy. This paper expounds on my experience and the manner in which it relates to the political concepts of power. In this paper, I argue that the police officer had power over my actions but he lacked legitimate authority to ask for my lighter. Thus, he resorted to intimidation to get the lighter from me.
Power refers to the ability to cause others to act in ways they would not otherwise do. A person can exercise power either through coercion or persuasion. Coercive power involves force, sanctions, and threats while persuasive power involves cooperation basing on the reasons provided (Beetham, 2013). Those in power can make their subjects to comply due to the ability and the right to do so. Power involves the ability to makes others comply, while authority consists of the right to make them conform. In addition to having the authority and requiring the subjects to obey the laws, it is essential to establish the legitimacy of the authority (Lacewing, 2003). An agency derives its legitimacy from the law, which justifies its power on the subjects. Subjects are obliged to obey lawful authority because it is legitimate. However, where there are doubts about the legitimacy of the agency, then no one is forced to obey. This rationale means that legitimacy involves the exercise of power in an acceptable, justified and lawful manner. It is possible for anyone to exercise power over others. Even though, disobedience is expected where the person imposing power on others is not perceived to be in authority.
My experience at Heathrow Airport is a proper incident where power lacked legitimacy. The policeman at the airport, first of all, acted without facts and evidence by claiming that I was carrying a bullet. The police officer was empowered by the Airport management to check luggage for an illegal item before allowing people to board the plane. The law does not allow passengers to board the plane with a bullet, but it does not prohibit one to get in with a lighter. The policeman insisted that I give him the lighter because it looked like a bullet. The diplomatic representative that I was driving with intervened in the matter and advised the police officer not to take my lighter because it was not a bullet after all. The policeman’s authority lacked legitimacy because there was no law which prohibited passengers from boarding with a lighter. Therefore, he did not get the support of the diplomatic representative and the manager who asked him to apologize for his action.
Before the diplomatic representative intervened, the policeman was using his power to coerce me to do something that I did not want to. He tried to influence my actions without any law to support his authority, thus making his actions unlawful and unjustified. The diplomatic representative had more power over the policeman that is why he got outraged when the policeman shouted at him. The manager understood the nature of authority held by the diplomatic representative. In addition, the manager knew the laws governing the search of passengers and the items that should not be allowed at the airport.
The policeman was applying Hobbes’ traditional view of power which involves forcing others to obey. According to Hobbes, nature demands that human beings possess power over each other and that the most powerful tends to win. Thus, accepting and submitting to a ruler is the only way to escape from adverse consequences. Hobbes suggests that the King can force his decisions and actions over his subjects (Beetham, 2013). However, Hobbes view is limited because it lacks the aspect of legitimacy, which causes the public to accept and willingly follow the ruler. According to Lukes, power has three faces: decision-making agenda setting and thought control (Beetham, 2013). Decision-making relates to pluralist and liberal perceptions which focus on the person who makes the decisions. Boulding, on the other hand, suggests that three points influence decision-making – a sense of commitment and loyalty to a person, mutual benefit in win-win negotiations, and coercion (Beetham, 2013). In line with Boulding, the policeman applied constraint in his decision-making by forcing me to abide by his decisions even though I did not wish to.
Robert Dahl took a pluralist approach on the issue of power by arguing that there is not one all-powerful elite but a group of different sources that influence people’s decisions. This perspective accurately explains the various people that played a role in the decision-making on whether or not I should enter the airport with a lighter. Dahl (1957) researched local governments in the United States of America after which he concluded that it is not possible for one group or individual to get their way all the time. My experience with the policeman, the diplomatic representative, and the manager highlights Dahl’s perspective as many parties took part in deciding whether or not I should enter the airport with a lighter.
Agenda setting is the second face in decision-making whereby a party decides whether or not to intervene in decisions which do not affect them. Regarding agenda setting, the diplomatic representative chose to intervene in the decision of the policeman because of the political nature of his position. Accordingly, he used his political influence to get the manager to the scene to discuss the airport laws about carrying a lighter. Hence, the diplomatic representative represented the rich, well-informed and politically active position thus had a greater chance to shape the political agenda at the airport compared to myself, being vulnerable and with less political capital.
The third face of power refers to thought control or the radical view. The thoughts of human beings are not autonomous but influenced by many factors including political parties, mass media, peer groups, and family among social experiences. This face explains why people accept some decisions or actions without question and end up labelling people who don’t follow such decisions or actions as criminals, insane or psychopathic. According to this capitalist perspective, human beings are naturally not happy until they get some material benefits (Rummel, 1976). This thought control may not apply in my scenario as the main issue that was at hand was the lack of legitimacy in the authority of the policeman to harass me and ask for my lighter. Also, the diplomatic representative was pursuing a rational objective by insisting that the action of the policeman was not legitimate. There was no tangible reward awaiting the diplomatic representative.
The policeman was determined to impose authority on me by insisting that I surrender the lighter to him since it looked like a bullet. He felt that he was entitled to rule me and expected me to obey his commands without question. According to Marx Weber, authority is a legitimate form of power which compels people to accept it (Spencer, 1970). However, having authority does not necessarily imply that one must accept it that is why people question the source of authority. As a result, some governments without legitimacy use intimidation, violence, and fear to maintain order (Uphoff, 1989). In my scenario, the police officer used intimidation to get the lighter from me even though I did not accept his authority and the diplomatic representative also questioned it. Authority does not have an element of persuasion – the person with authority can get subjects to obey without using persuasion, pressure or argument.
Legitimacy is the basis of rightful, lawful or justifiable authority. Such authority derives from the properly established rules and principles. A government which lacks legitimacy can only sustain its power through intimidation, fear, and violence. Beetham (2013) suggests that legitimate authority must derive from rules which are justified in regards to shared beliefs between the governed and the government. Also, the laws must have an element of express consent from the governed. In my case scenario, I expected the police officers to exercise their authority according to the rules of Heathrow Airport, which did not prohibit passengers from carrying a lighter. Since the law was unambiguous and the diplomatic representative was well aware of it, he questioned the legitimacy of the police officer’s authority. The police officer realized that he did not have the legitimacy to ask for the lighter and resorted to using intimidation to get it.