Planning Research and Critical Thinking Methods into Curriculum Delivery

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

How do we teach our children to think, analyse and deconstruct information? Islamic Education must mean a set of research and critical thinking tools, which are based upon Islamic epistemology or Islamic Theory of Knowledge.
This is the time of the year for reviewing how well or not so well we have delivered our trust (Amaanah) as Educationists. Teaching children banks of information from curriculum resources – books, dvds, cds, etc – will be of little use if they cannot formulate judgements, problem solve and make decisions that please Allah or in the least subscribe to a criteria of ‘Islamic Rationality.’ To some this may seem oxymoronic, since ‘Rationality’ derives from a positivist approach to knowledge and Islam the antitheses of all forms of knowledge having no basis in ‘Revelation.’ But who says that Islam is not rational or that the act of being rational has to exclude goodness or Godliness?
Consider the following questions and self evaluate whether you have enabled your learners to do the following:-

1- To understand the key Arabic terms which define the Islamic concepts they are studying
2- To reference the Holy Quran for their key canons of faith and practice, making sure they develop the habit of firstly seeking the view of Revelation before embarking upon their analysis
3- To reference the sayings, actions or acknowledgements from the life of Prophet Muhammad for any of the topics under study and to understand the difference between a command and a recommendation
4- To use their Arabic language skills to be able to read and write those verses and hadith traditions in Arabic so they begin to see to the importance of the Arabic language to Islamic Studies
5- To be able to think critically upon a range of scholarly views on a single verse or hadith tradition and the different thinking methods involved in deducing opinions, so rather than teaching them what scholars have said, they analyse the reasons and sources behind their opinions and how they came to their point of views
6- And to develop the skills to evaluate complex issues using the five canons of Islamic legal thinking: Compulsory, Forbidden, Encouraged, Disliked and Optional; and the conditions under which actions or non-actions can be thus classified?

This list can be extended, but the aforementioned are the most basis skills we should focus upon when attempting to impart to our children an “Islamic Research Methodology.” If we missed this opportunity this academic year, there is always next year.

Malick Elias

Should We Challenge Student Beliefs? | Inside Higher Ed

Pedagogy Series 1

AA,
A very good question to consider for those teaching at Senior school plus level. I am often faced with the dilemma myself when I am teaching issues like the Hijab or Muslim head cover for instance. How far should I go in challenging students’ knowledge and understanding of what the Holy Quran’s commands are and their family’s notions of what is ‘Modesty.’ My approach is often to cite the verses and prophet traditions on the matter, and come up with ways to allow students to express their views about what is ‘Modest’ and what is not. This way I can ask leading questions, get them in debate mode and get them to explore all the contradictions and contrasts involved in the issues, without forcing anyone to accept the opinion of the other. I usually end the discussion with closing remarks pointing out to them the difference between a Muslim and Believer and that the ultimate aim of a Muslim is to strive towards the obedience of God in all their actions.
The below article inspired me to make mention of how I deal with sensitive topics. I say sensitive because, only after exploring what teenagers thoughts are on a range of issues that effect them, you realise the struggles that they face within and are likely to hear what you are saying but not agree in the least. What are your thoughts on the matter? What is your approach? Does the following article make any sense to you?

Should We Challenge Student Beliefs? | Inside Higher Ed

Peace be with you all

Malick Elias

Improve your Teaching of ‘I Love Islam’ series and your Children’s Learning Experiences

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

It is that time of the year when we begin planning for the next academic year. After a year of using the new Islamic Education Syllabus, I LOVE ISLAM for Grades 1-6 and having many afterthoughts about how best to deliver such a huge resource, I thought that putting it down on paper would be best.

If you are interested in improving your teaching and the learning experiences of your pupils please review my ideas and give me constructive feedback on how it can be improved and give it a rating between 1-5. 1 is low and 5 is high.


Coming Next: How to use Islamic Education to improve the English literacy of your pupils.

Malick Elias

20 Quick, Tried, Tested and Effective Practices for Teaching the Holy Quran to Children

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

1-    Read and point at the text of the Holy Quran (displayed on the whiteboard) matching symbol with sound, while pupils follow the reading along with you.

Rated: Good for linking text with sound and developing reading skills. This must be done in a slow rhythmic pace.
2-    Randomly point to verses in a Surah written on the board and pupils are required to read it out immediately without hesitation, as a group or individually.
Rated: Good for keeping pupils alert and getting them remember verses quickly if they know that they will be asked.
3-    Select the last ten Surahs, for example, read by a very good reciter and pupils read along miming his recitation as it is being read.
 Rated: Very good for improving and developing pupil’s reading style. They must however read with the same pace as the expert reciter.
4-    Read a verse alone and pupils then follow the reading after stopping.
Rated: Good for drilling the memorisation of the verse. Must be done in a clear voice paying attention to pronunciation rules (Makhaarij al-Huroof).
5-    Read a verse to the class and pupils read the next verse in sequence.
Rated:  Very good. This is done best when most pupils have learnt the Surah, with perfection.
6-    Read to the class and stop at words, which some pupils find difficult, they read that word and you then continue reading.
Rated: Good for checking pronunciation.
7-    Read a verse in a distinctive tone and pupils read the next verse in an alternate tone.
Rated: A good, but very specialist way for drawing pupils’ attention to the intonation and changes of tone and voice in the reading of a Surah. Before doing this pupils must be made aware of the meaning of the Surah and the story it tells.
8-    Select Surahs, which highlight a distinctive rhythmic style, especially those with the ending of verses which rhyme and read it with passion to the pupils.
Rated: Excellent for developing the pupils love for Quranic recitation and its stylistic features.
9-    Begin reading a Surah or random verse and then select a pupil to continue it.
 Rated: An excellent way of checking the depth of memorisation.

10- Read a Surah and pupils have to guess the name of it. This game can be extended to test their knowledge on other details of the Surah, for example, where it was revealed and in which chapter is it located in the Holy Quran …
Rated: Very good for developing pupils general knowledge of the Surahs, especially their names and where they were revealed.
11- Use images to link to verses if relevant. Best done on learning sheets.
Rated:  A good way of allowing visual learner to remember what the Surah is about.
12- Request from pupils the recitation of a specific Surah as they enter the class, standing behind their chairs before they sit.
 Rated:  Excellent technique for pupils to get into the habit. It helps them to consolidate the learning of particular Surahs. You could also develop this around gender lines. Boys begin reading and girls take over the reading at a certain point.
13- Group pupils who are at the same level and learning the same Surah to read the Surah in synchronised manner as one person in front of the class.
Rated: Very good for building the confidence of weaker pupils. But for this to be successful they must all read in chorus together.
14- Group pupils who are at the same level and learning the same Surah to read the Surah verse by verse. Each pupil in the group reads a verse and matches the pace and tone of the last reader.
Rated: Good. This is an advanced way of developing recitation skills of Tajweed and Tarteel.
15- Set a Quranic competition at the end of the lesson for pupils to compete.
Rated: Excellent for developing excitement and love for the learning of Quranic recitation. At a more advance level, give children the opportunity to choreograph their own presentations. Be creative! They love it. This is one of the most successful activities as it reflects popular culture that they can relate with.
16- Use transliterated Quran sheets, but only issue two verses at a time for individual pupils to learn. Let the pupils read to you after they learnt the verses and the teacher put a tick on the sheet and date it.
Rated: Excellent if used properly. It can build pupil confidence and memorisation skills. Pupils sense achievement quickly as they feel that they can learn the Surah. This is a good method for differentiating learning in Quran lessons.
17- Assign the copying of the short Surah or parts or selection from a long Surah in Calligraphic style, if the pupil is advanced. For the less advanced, but capable of reading the Holy Quran in Arabic, they should at least learn how to write Surah al-Fatihah from memory.
Rated:  An excellent way of developing pupils’ precision in reading, but useful also for visual learners.
18- Select pupils to read to the class, while others assess the level of their recitation. They are given levelling criteria: level 1 is recitation with some mistakes; level 2 is recitation without any mistakes but no tajweed and level 3 is recitation with tajweed.
Rated:  A excellent method for getting pupils to gauge the standard of recitation expected from them and to seek to excel in Quranic reading. It really works!
19- Assign a memorisation buddy for each pupil. They listen and check the memorisation of each other before letting you check their recitation and memorisation.
Rated: Excellent tool for classroom management and developing independent learning.
20- Assign the role of Memorisation Inspector to the most advance memorisers and or reciters of the Quran to go around and check the memorisation of others and issue them with a level; they then report back the levels of the pupil’s reading to you.
Rated: Very good method of engaging gifted and talented pupils in the learning process and classroom management aid.

Malick Elias