Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Science education in Baghdad

I have a friend, Dan K., who taught for two years at the Jesuit-run secondary school in Baghdad in the mid-1960. The country was then ruled by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif, one of a series of strong men who held power between the fall of the Hashemite monarchy and the rise of Saddam Hussein. This is the same school later taken over by the Baathists and attended (notoriously) by Saddam's sons.

Dan showed me two yearbooks from his time at the college, and, except for the names of the boys and some Arabic script, this could really have been "BC-on-the-Tigris," referring to the famous Jesuit-run Boston College High School in Boston. Handsome buildings set among luxurious palms. Classes of happy smiling boys, Sunnis and Shites, Muslims and Catholics. School buses rolling in from all over the city. Classes in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, and geography, in addition to the liberal arts. Everybody getting happily along.