I am Imane Bensalem and this is my story with education change.
I have always felt that the greatest crime in history is formal education. I say this and I am aware of the depth of the accusation. But let me tell you more about my why.
It seems when we are born, our parents have a path for us. They have a religion for us, career dreams, gender roles and quite the boxes before you can even speak.
I don’t know how dead one must be to not feel the weight of these imposed boxes. I felt them at 4 years old already, when I was called tomboy for playing outside with a bunch of boys, or each time I came back with a scratch on my skin from playing and enjoying being a kid “girls should not ruin their bodies this way”.
Then of course, if you have the (mis)fortune of having an arab family that does not do the work of self introspection, then you have a bunch of opinionated middle aged men and women schooling you daily on what life really means.
I was very lucky to be a single child, because I had some safe distance from their opinions and grew careful to them early on.
My mother is a professor, she taught me songs from other cultures and got me a lot of books, she insisted I had to know myself, probably because she never had the chance to do that in her family. She lived the scenario picked out by her father and allowed me to rebel against whatever is not me.
I have fallen into the arms of art, music, literature and the immense pleasure of understanding science very early on.
I was so taken by my intellectual discoveries that I did not fit anymore in any cultural box. I valued knowledge and wanted to unlearn the falsehoods my mother could not rid herself of because of her upbringing.
On this learning journey, I had little support from the local community, but plenty of it from the rest of the world. I realized there was a ‘rest of the world’ and that I can learn about that world too.
I made friends who valued art and knowledge from around the world, they became my school and I shared all that I knew.
In Arab families, job career options are basically 3: doctor, engineer or disgrace to the family.
I chose the 3rd because I dropped out of their beloved medical school to learn business, not for the sake of business, but for an understanding I needed to build something that allows others to learn the way I did.
I chose another disgraceful discipline; I am an author. So I wrote and I built businesses. I built 3 to be precise: Moroccan talent community when I was still a student, in which I gathered street artists, musicians and writers, we created events that awakened the sense of community and creativity within the hearts of people.
I later launched School Of Why, in which we helped people pursue purpose through questioning.
And now all that I lived connected to give birth to Tribe Of Why which connects people globally and locally to cultivate understanding through sharing authentic life learnings and life skills.
This is the part that can never be formalized in education: how do we love another? How do we become more compassionate? How do we overcome depression or anxiety?
These life experiences are the core of survival of our specie and each individual holds a piece of the global experience.
The people we connected through the tribe have opened up to other cultures in the hope of learning something new and giving their perspective on certain life learnings. In these moments of vulnerable exchange, one realizes the oneness of the human experience. Because in the end, what matters is to know how to love and accept love, to know how to do better when you know better, to be ready to change your mind when you must and to overall learn to be fully human.
Imagine a world in which you perceive every human as an open book, and if they too were given the chance to open up and share their learnings, imagine the amount of compassion and human-intelligence we can develop together.
The truest education of all leads to love, and love leads to peace. This is this foolish girl’s dream and some of us just have to be foolish enough to believe. Believe like children would do. That’s how we can achieve peace for the next generations.
Never settle, know thyself and keep on learning for peace.