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Shoemaking instead of Algebra- Where do I sign up?

Imagine school and no math. Well, many young students in Morocco are learning trades instead of the 3 R's. What is a trade, you ask? Well, it is a skill that you can use to make money or hold down a job. For example, woodcarving. This is an old tradition of Moroccan design. Arabesque architecture is characterized by huge wooden doors intricately carved and etchings on the ceilings and along the walls that are similarly designed. It takes time, patience, and a good eye but if students start young, they would master the craft by the time they reach their late teens.

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of the trade schools that youth can go to
Others were learning brass work, making ornately designed tea kettles and trays, lanterns, and other decorative souvenirs from sheets of brass. The national beverage in Morocco is hot mint tea, which has been nicknamed Berber whiskey because people drink it all day long, as if it were addictive. And no matter how poor the family, a tea set is a definite necessity. So, making brass tea kettles can be a lucrative trade. One classroom, I guessed from the shoes drawn on the chalkboard, was a class on shoemaking. How cool! That's something I've never seen in any of my old classrooms.

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would you like to make shoes instead of learn Algebra?
The last class I entered was a huge room filled with large wooden machines. Students stood behind the machines wrapping yarn around a loom learning how to weave rugs. All around the room hung beautiful rugs, perfect examples used for instruction with intricate design all done by hand. The Berbers who lived in the mountains were craftsmen and women who became experts at their craft. One of these rugs for example, might take up to six months to weave by hand. They are so finely and tightly woven that if you set fire to it the fibers withstand the heat and won't burn! I saw it with my own eyes.

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Don't go trying to
light any of these on fire, okay?
Seems like learning to make a fireproof rug might be a little bit more useful that the square root of x, ha ha. Just Kidding, your education is A number one! Just wanted to show you that kids all over the world are "educated" in different ways. Whether you are learning algebra or shoemaking, make the most if it and always be the best that you can be!


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Abeja - Moulay Idriss: Morocco's Most Holy City

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