Reforming Islamic Education: Education for a Sustainable Future

Recommended viewing for Islamic Pedagogy

Islamic Educationists have to be at the cutting edge of Education theory and practice and should not be solely motivated by tick-boxing topics covered on the curriculum.

The following documentary is five star viewing for Islamic Educators. Put together by New Future Media, it highlights the argument that educational practices in today’s schools are socially unsustainable and explores a range of pedagogies and technologies, which can improve the way teachers teach and children learn. Some ideas covered are:

  • Freedom and Control in Teaching and Learning
  • Understanding How Behaviour is Shaped and Modified
  • Teaching for Change and Adaptation
  • The Dangers of Competition-Based Learning 
  • The Importance of Examining Values
  • The Promotion of Knowledge and Skills together
  • Critical Thinking
  • Empathic Collaborative Learning 
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Reification, Definition and Analysis
  • Reinforcement of Sustainable Classroom Behaviour and Values

Please note that these are only ideas for consideration and should not be taken in isolation from any of the other previous suggestions we have made, for example, in our earlier article: ‘Planning Research Methods into Curriculum Delivery.’

Malick Elias

No more homework!

Pedagogy Series 1


It is about time that schools got rid of the obsession with homework. Now, now, we all know that they focus upon issuing homework because parents complain that their children are not getting any- a move by most parents to keep their children busy at home or removing the guilt of not spending enough quality family learning time with their children. You know, like, teaching them social interaction skills through spending time talking with their children, engaging with them in sport and extracurricular activities or merely having dinner and a chat at the table with them. Now, I think that I will be looking up the idea behind ‘paralel learning’. Based upon what I read in this article, I think I will be including it into my planning. In fact, I was already thinking along these lines. Not so much the exclusion of homework, which I will build a case for and argue it with my colleagues; but the idea of delivering an introductory lecture at the start of a new theme or term or topic under study and drawing attention to the questions and issues therein and assign to students a range of collaborative and individual tasks which will involve them researching the material themselves and completing a project assignment. It is possible as in the case mentioned in this article, to include a range of questions related to the issues studied for pupils to answer, perhaps in a piece of report writing, rather than a tedious comprehension-type questionnaire.
However, I do think that homework is overrated unless it involves children working collaboratively on a project over a length of time, that way you know that they are involved in genuine extra curricular learning. On the condition that they can report back to the class on the learning process through an essay or video file.
For Islamic Education, it is time that schools encourage children to keep and manage their individual learning portfolios as evidence of them having learnt and this can be counted as part of their end of term assessment or examination. Homework and written examinations which seek from students to recall information are tools from the past and have little remaining justification in a highly socially connected and technological world. Don’t you agree?

School opening surprise: No more homework

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