The Islamic Post Blog


School Approaches: Designing a Curriculum for Muslim Students by Khalida

Tips for New Educators:
Preparing a Standard School Curriculum

-Research and plan properly.

By Zahidah Faruq, Islamic Post Staff Writer

“Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” This maxim is a tradition of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his family. It applies to men and women, boys and girls.
“If the actions of a teacher are contrary to what he preaches, it does not help toward guidance, but it is like poison. A teacher is like a stamp to clay and a student is the clay.  If the stamp has no character, there is no impression on the clay,” wrote Hazrat Imam Ghazzali, may Allah have mercy upon him, said in his famous book  Iyha Ulumiddin under  the section on knowledge.
What is curriculum development?  The term curriculum is used in different ways by parents, the education community and the business world. A standard definition of curriculum is defined as what is taught, its scope, and sequence. Instruction covers how, where and by whom the curriculum is taught.  Education philosophies, attitudes, values and appreciations may be informal or hidden aspects of a curriculum. Most curricula are sequential, meaning  they build on the previous lessons and subjects.  The development of a standard curriculum is a lengthy task normally done by an entire curriculum team.
Simplified version.
A home school curriculum can be simplified, however. The key to every curriculum is for the educator to know what the student is expected to know –and what the student should be able to do– at each grade level and in each subject.
The simplest way is to break down reliable textbooks into unit studies,  and form the broken down form into a curriculum. (Continues below…)

(Fuschia Foot Photo

A lLesson plan book from 1979. For newer educators, the process takes more initial planning, but can also be an exciting experience. (Fuschia Foot Photo, Creative Commons License)

A seasoned educator may omit textbooks entirely, or use them only as resource books, adding a variety of sources such as the internet, libraries, museums, and field trips to places like farms, zoos and observatories, to develop their curriculum.
Islamic Cultural View
For Islamic schools, or home schools, an Islamic view is the best to establish. This curriculum; and uses Islamic cultural resources, books, and videos, as the backbone to all lessons, in all content areas. This is similar to the approach in parochial schools, and gives a firm grounding in understanding of Islamic heritage.
Standard K-12 curriculums are broken into various categories such as primary, elementary, intermediate, and high school. Each category is broken into content areas; these are detailed below.
Standard Primary Level
The standard primary level curriculum concentrates on language development, phonics, sight words, phonemic awareness, spelling rules, reading fluency and comprehension; beginning mathematics, introduction to science and social studies; introduction to the Arabic language, teaching the stories from Holy Qur’an, stories about the life of the Holy Last Messenger, Muhammad, peace be upon him, known as seerah, and stories of other Holy Messengers (Joseph, Noah, Moses and Jesus, among others, peace be upon them all) and Islamic etiquette, among other things.
Standard Elementary Level
The standard elementary school curriculum concentrates on  subjects such as: Quranic studies, memorization or hifz; the Islamic belief system, termed aqidah; the life story of the Holy Last Messenger, peace be upon him, which is known as seerah; Islamic history and law; calligraphy, Arabic reading and writing; mathematics, science, social studies, and English language arts with emphasis on writing development.
Intermediary Level
The Intermediate level continues to concentrate on the same subjects, but at a more technical level: Quranic studies and commentary, hifz of longer ahaadith, which are the traditions of the Holy Last Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) as well as Holy Qur’an; more detailed classes in aqidah, seerah, Islamic law and history; calligraphy, and Arabic reading and writing. Then there is pre-algebra and algebra, literature analysis,  life science, physical and earth science; history (global and American), and English language arts with  an emphasis on writing skills.
At this level students begin to choose electives.
High School Level
At the High school level, all of the core subjects are still taught. However the curriculum becomes specialized and technical. Advanced science, math and English are taught for a year at a time. Islamic law, science of ahaadith, in depth study of Holy Quranic commentary and commentary of ahaadith are introduced.  Electives are now a part of high school credit-earning. Advanced courses prepare the student for entrance into college, trade school or employment.
Possible Resources
The sources given below are just a sampling of some of the options available for curriculum development or enhancement.
School District Curriculums
Curriculums developed by local school districts are aligned with the state’s educational standards and tied to federal education mandates and high stakes testing. Student competence is tested at various grade levels. If you are a parent or community member, you are able to access these curriculums or curriculum maps from your local school district free of charge.
Online Virtual Schools
Virtual schools refer to online schools that offer student services and courses that are conducted through Internet technology. Some virtual schools offer a full K-12 curriculum. The virtual school may use different types of media in the implementation of the curriculum. DVD’s, video segments, animation and graphics are usually infused throughout the lessons. A teacher or tutor may be assigned to monitor the student’s progress,  intervening when he, or she, needs help understanding a lesson.
Correspondence Curriculums.
Many correspondence curriculums span the grades K-12, and cover the core curriculum areas and/or electives in the higher grades. Textbooks, workbooks and other teaching aids are included with some of the more expensive systems. These curriculums normally have the lessons scripted out, month by month, for the entire year.  The process is simple; the educator reads the material, and follows the script.  Student progress is tracked by way of tests and quizzes.
A Final Word.
Remember, you do not have to reinvent the wheel. The internet, the library, and your local community all offer a wide array of materials and resources for educators, home school parents and students. Take the time to do the research and properly plan. Your curriculum, and the result it produces, will be enhanced tenfold.

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Muslim Youths

Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim
culture–the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
Iftikhar Ahmad

Comment by Iftikhar




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