British Curriculum Schools to Undergo UK DfE Inspections

Government Education Policy 1

As of the next Academic year 2012-13, British curriculum schools in Dubai will undergo inspections by BSO (British Schools Overseas) inspectors applying the same standards of the Department for Education (DfE) in the United Kingdom. For the core international curriculum (Maths, English and Science) this is great news. Parents who pay a lot for their children’s education will rest assured that the quality of education their children will receive meets the equivalent standards that they will one day reintegrate into after leaving life in the UAE.
I wonder, how will this pan out with the provision of Arabic and Islamic Education? Will the KHDA continue to oversee the teaching of Arabic and Islamic Education? Are they going to make sure that teaching and learning of these subjects also meet international quality standards?  Moreover, as the crisis in Arabic and Islamic Education continues who will finally underpin the importance of Arabic to ‘Islamic and or Arabic identity?’ Furthermore, will Islamic Education classes continue to be a ‘pointless lesson’ due to its lack of marketability or social value? These are important questions both for the UK and the UAE and in particular for learners of Arabic as a Second Language and the Muslim population of expat children undertaking Islamic Education.
The United Kingdom and Western democracies in particular since 9/11 have spent billions combatting terrorism and reinforcing the values of citizenship through encouraging closer integration between Islamic Studies and Citizenship Education. Will Islamic Education in the Middle East continue to bear the resemblance of some vague type of moral instruction or look more like Citizenship and PHSEE Education? Will Arabic and Islamic Education students and graduates see the economic value of their certificates and degrees as they are urged to take these subjects seriously by their teachers?
Lastly, as answers are being found to these questions, will Arabic and Islamic Education teachers – both core subjects in this part of the world – be entitled to the same professional recognition and continued professional development as their colleagues of the other core subjects? These questions are yet to be answered.

Malick Elias

Should We Challenge Student Beliefs? | Inside Higher Ed

Pedagogy Series 1

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

Follow up: What is Islamic Education?

Assalamu ‘Alaykum, now and always,

Going through the list of videos programmed to show up on this blog, I am recommending the best I have viewed so far, which highlights sentiments of my earlier article: What is and What is Not Islamic Education. 
Take the time and study this lecture and I recommend its showing to Senior school Islamic Education students at the start of the new academic year. 
Good viewing.

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

What is and What is Not Islamic Education

It makes sense to understand “Islamic Education” as an ever evolving phenomena not belonging exclusively to any period in time or moment of enlightenment. Much of what we now know Islamic Education to be began with the divine command ‘to read’. Now one can apply a range of epistemologies when deconstructing what that command may have meant or indeed means. We have the knowledge of the giver of the revelation, Allah (SWT) Himself and what was indeed intended by the command to His servant to read. There is also the receiver of the Revelation itself, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), and his understanding both at the point of first contact and at a later stage as to what that command may have meant; and at the same time not ignoring his pre-revelation state. That is, if we do value the notion that Allah is involved in the shaping of our lives before scriptural guidance. Then there are we, the timeless reader and the perspectives we acquire through received knowledge and personal understanding over time as to the meaning, purpose and significance of that command – to read. Now all of these perceptions combined: the inaction of necessarily knowing or act acquiring knowledge and or evolving understanding all encompasses the meaning of education itself. Won’t you agree?

I often wondered what Prophet Muhammad did think, knowing that he was illiterate at the point of being urged on by the Angel Gabriel, ‘to read.’ Did he think that he was being asked the impossible – to read – or did he assume that the reading of a text was involved? Did Gabriel appear with scrolls in hand that led him to believe that he had to read them? Or was he simply being asked to recite that which Gabriel was about to read to him? But why according to hadith reports was so much strain and tension placed upon the Prophet  ‘to read’ when it could have been much easier for Gabriel to state what he wanted him to recite and then command him to follow in recitation? This begs another question: what was the point of the command itself? What I did conclude from the many questions which were raised in attempting to understand the meaning and essence of education from within the bounds of the first utterances of revelation itself was much simpler; that the Prophet was being commanded to read the narrative of his life, past, the present and future from within a new discourse and way of viewing the world, one which was based upon Tawheed.
“Read in the name of your Lord who created. Created mankind from a clot of congealed blood. Read, for your Lord is most Generous. He is the one, who taught the use of the pen. Taught humans that which they knew not.” 1-5:96
This, in the broadest of senses underpins what was meant to be ‘Islamic’ about Education and what set into motion the evolution of Islamic Education as distinct from other forms of Education, ways of knowing and imagining the world and beyond. The correct understanding of this command enshrines the purpose and legacy of Islamic Education, which remains constant throughout the annuls of time, the linking of humans with their Creator. Islamic Education therefore espouses a unique approach towards reading the narrative of life on earth.

In a research paper by Douglas and Shaikh (2004) a typology of what the phrase ‘Islamic Education’ may mean, explored four angles: 

1- Education of Muslims, which they argued, accurately meant “Muslim Education.” (page 8) An activity which takes place in local mosques or community centres after school or at weekends to compensate for the lack of Islamic instruction in schools.
2- Education for Muslims, which though perceived by Muslims as “Islamic schools’ are better coined “Muslim schools.” (p.8) The education of Muslims within a Western education secular framework.
3- Education about Islam, which is usually an outsiders view of what others perceive Islam to be (ps.9-12), as in an orientalist view of Islam, but not exclusively so, for this too can entail a romanticised view of Islam by Muslims construed for Western or non-Muslim consumption. 
4- Lastly, education in an Islamic spirit and tradition, which Douglas and Shaikh identifies as ‘the first meaning readers attribute to the phrase, Islamic Education,’ and usually the target of negative speculation by outsiders. To believers on the other hand Islam is seen as ‘a universal ideal of human knowledge,’ and with ‘no barrier between the “religious” and “secular.’’’ 
So what constitutes Islamic knowledge or Islamic Education? As Muslims we are taught that all knowledge by its very nature emanates from Allah (God) and therefore is Islamic. The coinage ‘Islamic’ does not mean knowledge bounded to the views of the followers of Islam – as viewed by those who demarcate between the search for spiritual truths and scientific enquiry. Islamic Education is not a subject to be taught alongside other subjects in the school curriculum, instead it is a pedagogy of instruction, learning and enquiry about the world founded on the basis of ‘revealed’ truths and should be embedded into the whole school curriculum. The first principle of these truths is that all truth itself emanates from ‘Allah,’ the Omniscient, to whom all knowledge belongs. Therefore, the study of Mathematics is Islamic and so are the range of Arts (Funoon), Humanities (Aadaab) and Sciences (Uloom al-‘aqliyyah) when founded upon an Islamic pedagogy that educates the whole individual.
The Holy Prophet (saw) once said: ‘The best of you is he or she who learns (masters) the Holy Quran and teaches it to others.” It is then not possible for one who has mastered a field of learning, scientist or humanist to articulate through their learning the truths of the universe as revealed by Allah? Did not the Prophet (saw) achieve this in his gift of moral conduct, when his wife, Aisha, was asked as about his manner behind closed doors and she replied: ‘His conduct was that of the Holy Quran?’ You too, can be an Islamic Educator. You too, can be a master of the Quran.