Thursday, 19 April 2007

home schooling

i've got a student this year who was home schooled (until now obviously) i have to admit i was a bit sceptical about how he would fit in with the rest of the class, but now i actually think he is a genius, i'm not kidding. his most recent homework is 15,000 words (are doctoral thesis even that long?) he casually handed it in with the words "i've got some bedtime reading for you" hhhmmm.

his level of maturity, social skills and general attitude far exceeds anyone else i teach.

what does this say about our education system?

I was talking to his parents yesterday, and they said the main reasons they had decided to home school him was because people don't understand their religion and can't accommodate it. they are jewish. (oops i was thinking back to when i interviewed him and tried to show him how to fill in the ethnicity part "correctly")

so what about our kids then, having to grow up in a society where there is so much ignorance and hatred for anything islamic?

i know there are plenty of people trying to understand, and plenty who do not believe everything they hear on the news. and i'm glad there are so many muslims working in state schools now. but despite that,i have seen too much that worries me during my time in state schools.

for all of the talk about integration, there is too much ignorance shown by staff, who don't seem willing to understand the difference between religion and culture, for example. or don't seem to understand that even though children might complain about the lack of freedom they have, they are not going to turn their back on their way of life, when it comes down to it. and there is too much that children are exposed to, which is condoned and even encouraged by teachers, their so called role models, that is against everything they believe in.

which is why my kids (inshAllah) are not stepping foot inside a state school.


Dan said...

"there is too much that children are exposed to, which is condoned and even encouraged by teachers, their so called role models, that is against everything they believe in."

What sort of things are you referring to here?

saudi stepford wife said...

I don't know if you remember me freaking out when I walked into my daughter's reception class and they were all running around and jumping in their underwear. I was floored! Someone would be arrested in America for that. That's a normal Phys. Ed class in England.

That, and my daughter's male teacher bringing pictures of his "husband" to show the kids made me storm out of the school and swear to the All Mighty God that my child was NEVER going to return to a British public school! She was at home for quite a while before we took her back to the Muslim school. We didn't have enough money which is why I had to juggle work and Post Grad studies our last year to pay for it.

hema said...

i have a muslim student with a boyfriend. just before parents evening, she asked all her teachers not to mention her boyfriend to her dad. her form tutor was outraged at how strict her dad was, and encouraged her to stand up to him, and move out for university next year to "get away from his possessiveness."

i talked to the teacher in question about this comment, and she actually wasn't willing to understand that she can't make judgements on other peoples' beliefs and values.

i don't impose my beliefs on my non muslim students, and try to understand where they are coming from. is it so wrong to expect staff to do that for their muslim students? the student in question is not going to turn her back on her family, and religion is an important part of her life.

people always seem surprised at how ardently i believe in faith schools, seen as i have chosen not to teach in one. i can see the arguments against faith schools, and i can see the importance of iteraction and dialogue to aid understanding. but islam is an important part of my life and i'm comfortable in my own identity. i can proudly say i'm british and muslim at the same time. children may not always be able to do that. so, i don't know if i would want to expose my own children to the kind of islamophobia out there while they are still at an influential age.
i don't even have children, why am i talking about this! but there you go, i just think that parents should have the right to choose.

mishy said...

Wow definitely one of your most controversial posts so far! I'm surprised you believe so strongly in faith schools. You say you can proudly say you're British and a Muslim at the same time however you never went to an Islamic school, what makes you think your (hypothetical) child wouldn't be able to make the same choice?

I don't know if i would want to expose my own children to the kind of islamophobia out there while they are still at an influential age.

You can only protect people for so long, sooner or later they'll realize how the world is. However I will say the use of the term "islamophobia" annoys me a bit. Soon its going to become meaningless like "racist" now is in high schools. I remember whenever a teacher said something to a non-white student that they didn't like, they would respond by saying racist. No you little div, I don't think the reason they're telling you not to jump from that third floor window is because they're racist, its because you'll break your leg and sue the school *slap* (I wish!)

hema said...

usually i hate playing the racist card too. and if i look at the situation objectively, i can even see why there is so much fear of islam. muslims have to take a bit of responsibility here too, because if people are ignorant about our faith, it's our job to show them what true islam is about. but what seems to be happening with SOME people, is that they are not willing to understand, and it's more comfortable for them to see islam as the enemy. i think some people were disappointed that the recent shootings in virginia were not done by a muslim, for example.

i'm glad i went to the school i went to, but that was a world before 9/11. and if you’re doubting that islamophobia exists, read this:

(how do I hyperlink in the comments section??)

Or read as much as you can, because i couldn’t read much of it, without feeling very depressed.

on the other hand, i can see your point about the kids having to interact with the outside world eventually. but as i said, my home schooled student is doing just fine.

even if you wouldn't send your own (hypothetical) kids to a faith school, can you at least see the arguments for why they should exist, and should be funded so that people don't have to make the kind of sacrifices that ssw is referring to?

Dan said...

I find Saudi Stepford Wife's comments bizarre. What's wrong with reception kids doing PE?!

And gay people exist, so why not just deal with that fact and not try to "protect" your little one from them?

Obviously I'm coming at this from an atheist position as that's what I am. I'm in an ironic reverse of Hema's position in that I teach in a kind of "faith school" in so far as it's a catholic college, but am not religious and don't believe faith schools should be publicly funded.

Personally, and as life-long anti-racist and anti-fascist activist, I find them socially divisive and failing in a fundamental aspect of education: to educate children for the real world, with all its variety and contradictions.

I don't try to impose my atheistic views on my students, and I wouldn't feel comfortable urging a student to break family ties because of my own social views, but on a more academic level, if someone is prepared to argue a creationist view against language acquisition and the language instinct (i.e. refusing to believe that evolution has happened and therefore that the "language" of chimps has anything to do with the language of humans) I have to put a scientific case forward. If belief is just another form of blinkered vision then it's standing in the way of education, isn't it?

hema said...

i don't think ssw has an issue with reception kids doing PE- obviously physical education is important. the issue was that they had stripped down to their underwear instead of changing into gym clothes. i don't know if that's normal practice to be honest. ymiss where have you gone?

and yes, gay people exist and we encourage our children to be tolerant and understanding of other belief systems. but in islam, homosexuality is wrong, and we don't apologise for that because islam is what it is, which brings me back to my original issue of teachers condoning what is against their belief system. at sixteen a child can make up their own mind about this issue, but not at five! we don't change what we believe because of current trends and what is politically correct.

but anyway, ssw has political correctness issues to contend with on her own blog:) (you really shouldn't allow some of those comments!)

as for the rest, i think we will just have to agree to disagree. but i will leave you with this to look at, if you have the time:

anyway, i hope you find some of my teaching ideas as useful as i have found yours.