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

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

Who says that there is no Freedom in Being a Muslim?

Who says that in Islam the concept of ‘Freedom’ does not exist? Let me break it down for you.

Being Muslim is just promising God that you would be good. That’s the general idea. Good to who?

Good to God, I guess in the first instance. In fact, finding Him is sort of finding yourself – being good to Him through being good to yourself and your fellowman. Thats it. Now that was not hard is it, to deduce was it? Yeah, yeah, I know many people don’t look at their calling to God that way.

Anyway, too often, people think, and this includes Muslims, that anyone that identifies with Islam is a ardent Believer. Wrong! Well, every Believer is a Muslim, but not every Muslim is a Believer. You see, being Muslim is the act of bearing witness to a set of truths and obligations, such as:

(1) testifying that there is only One, Unique God (Allah, in Arabic) and that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is this last Prophet and Messenger

(2) promising to establish prayer at proscribed times

(3) redistributing a proscribed amount of wealth to poor and needy Muslims

(4) abstaining from food, drink and copulation during the daytime hours of a proscribed month

(5) and making pilgrimage to the first house built for the worship of God, in your lifetime, if you can afford to.

And you know what? A Muslim is not obliged to do any of it, he or she can choose to adhere or break their promises, but – and there is a BIG BUT – that will be breaking a most solemn oath with God and with that comes consequences in this life and in the life to come. Well, one is not even obliged to believe in those consequences at all; because if you did, then you’d be a ‘Believer’ for that moment.

Now here is another aspect of believing. The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) promised that adherence to those five aforementioned acts is sufficient for anyone to be rewarded entry into Paradise. He once told one of his followers, Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘Whosoever, says ‘There is only One, Unique God, with sincerity, will enter Paradise.’ Bemused with the news, he said, ‘Shall I tell the people? The prophet then replied, ‘No, they will rely on that alone.’

Now you would have to believe that Prophets and Messengers once walked the earth and bring revealed books of guidance to many and that these men preached in the existence of a Unique God and a promise of a life after this world. Well if you could agree with that you’d be halfway there to earning the title of being a ‘Believer’.

Wait up, not so quick. There are three more articles of belief: to accept that all ones actions are accounted for by supernatural beings called angels and that they are only collecting evidence against you because Allah already knows all of the choices and non-choices you will make.

Aha! I know what you’r thinking now. If I am free why are all of my choices not really choices because they are already preordained by a God? Well, you don’t have to believe and then you’d already been preordained to be a non-believer. Not everyone can be a believer you know and today you maybe and tomorrow you are not. That’s why you got to keep living the good life in the hope that you please your creator and fulfilled your promises. Its a tough life, but don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes.

The Holy Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) on another occasion when the Prophet said that ‘anyone who acknowledged that there was only One Unique Creator, sincerely from his heart will enter Paradise, was asked by one of his companions, Abu Dhar al-Ghifaari (ra) thrice: ‘Even if he committed fornication, adultury or stole?’ The prophet (pbuh) replied, ‘even if he fornicated or did adultery and stole … The Prophet (pbuh) sensing Abu Dhar hesitations said, despite any objections you may have Oh Abi Dhar (raghima anfak).”

Don’t get excited. You will obtain Paradise after paying for the price for your transgressions against the rights of others. Now, if you ended up in prison, don’t ask, why are there laws that persecute me for my injustices – why there are laws that violate and dictate the extent of my freedoms. Lol.

Well, someone knew that you would violate the rights of others and that you’d have to be curtailed. Someone knew that someone had to set the example of evil and its consequences. That doesn’t have to be you? If you are already in such a position – role-playing evil that is. You must really be enjoying it, not to want to change what you are? If you feel that you have no power to change your situation, then you are a danger to you and me.

Now if you are not on the wrong end of justice, then you are making the right choices until now, aren’t you?

What if you didn’t get caught? What if someone is doing you injustice, did not get caught?

Look, the bottom line is, you don’t have to be a Muslim, if thats what you ORDAINED for yourself. You don’t have to be a Believer also. Be anything you want to be. You prefer hell over heaven, that is your choice. Just don’t break the laws that keep you and me safe.

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.

Can Transliterated Quranic Sheets Make a Difference to Children’s Quran Memorisation?

Islamic Pedagogy Series 1

A dilemma often faced by co-ordinators of Islamic Education when planning the delivery of Quranic memorisation is whether to begin teaching the children to read Quran first, before setting them on the path to memorisation, or to begin memorisation straight away. For classroom practitioners it all boils down to the time constraints within the curriculum and this often gives way to the use of transliterated Arabic texts. Transliterated sheets must be seen as only a temporary measure, because it does not make sense for children to memorise huge chunks of the Holy Quran and they cannot in the end read it, in Arabic.
Therefore, for those of us who will continue to use transliterated Quranic memorisation sheets a final word of warning: do not throw it at children as if to imply I have done my job to help you, but use it to gradually build the child’s memory and recalling skills, while slowly building their ability to read the Holy book in the language within which, it was revealed.

The following links contains a range of effective tried and tested resources to help you teach children to read the Holy Quran in Arabic. Use them both strategically and wisely.  Please review your success or failer after using them and send in your feedback in writing; it will be most welcomed.
Surah al-Faatiha and the last 10 Surahs transliterated Quranic monitoring sheets.
 Qaa’edah An-Nooraniyah: Nooraniyah Guide for learning to read the Holy Quran
Al-Baghdaadiya: Another great Quranic Reader Guide

Malick Elias