Presentation on theme: "An exploration of the viability of partnership between dar al-ulum and Higher Education Institutions in North West England focusing upon pedagogy and relevance."— Presentation transcript:
An exploration of the viability of partnership between dar al-ulum and Higher Education Institutions in North West England focusing upon pedagogy and relevance. Ron Geaves Islamic Studies Network Funding
Introduction and Background The project explores possibilities of collaboration between Muslim providers of traditional education (dar al-ulums) and HE/FE institutions in close geographical proximity in North West England.
Participants Two prominent dar al-ulums located in Lancashire and Greater Manchester and affiliated with the Deobandi network were identified as possible partners, along with two Christian colleges involved in the delivery of undergraduate degrees validated by major North West England universities.
Rationale The Christian foundations were selected as they already recruited substantial numbers of Muslims students from their local catchment areas; they were in proximity to several major dar al-ulums and would be interested in collaboration as a result of interest in faith education, interfaith dialogue and issues of local/national integration. Deobandi dar al-ulums were selected as they are the principal providers of Islamic traditional education in Britain. The dar al-ulums and HE/FE colleges identified, benefit from geographical proximity to each other and are therefore ideal for the project.
The focus on pedagogy and relevance arise out of common critiques of traditional dar al-ulum curriculum (dars-i nizami). Pedagogy (over-emphasis on non-discursive rote learning). Relevance (the content of the dars-i-nizami is not relevant to the demands of the contemporary world)
Pedagogy A number of classes were attended during the morning sessions when the traditional curriculum is taught. Each class lasts for thirty minutes and I was able to attend sessions on Advanced Jurisprudence, Intermediate Arabic, Tafsir/Translation of Quran (senior), Quran translation (junior), Hadith ( three age groups), and Modern Arabic Grammar.
Pedagogy 1.The teaching ranged from the didactic to interactive. 2.There were signs of some tutors being more interactive and encouraging students to go behind the specific to seek universal and applicable ethics. 3.Students were expected to maintain a high level of participation, whether memorising, calculating, conversing or translating.
Pedagogy Conclusions: 1.A level of individual student engagement and interactive participation that compared very favourably with the higher level cognitive skills expected in a British university. 2.There was certainly more memorisation going on but it would be a misnomer to state that the pedagogic skills were based upon rote learning. 3.The facilities of the school are good and demonstrate a style that borrows from both east and west. 4.Respect for teachers is high and classroom discipline exceptional. 5.IT facilities are good. 6.The general impression was that of highly motivated, intelligent and reflexive young men whose ability to undertake degree level study was apparent (final two years).
Relevance The intense level of memorisation demanded was a useful transferable skill (law, for example). The students in the dar al-ulum are faced with a variety of teaching methods, some of which develop memorisation and others which develop higher level critical skills.
Sample – final year curriculum
RE should enable pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own promote discernment and enable pupils to combat prejudice (non-statutory guidance QCDA, 2007)
The aims of RE: religious education and competing expectations Of the intended curriculum (ref: Everington (2000). Acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding of Christianity and the other principal religions represented in Great Britain; Developing the ability to make reasoned and informed judgements about religious and moral issues; Enhancing pupils spiritual, moral, cultural and social development by: developing awareness of the fundamental questions of life raised by human experiences, responding to such questions with reference to the teachings and practices of religions to their own understanding and experience; reflecting on their own beliefs, values and experiences in the light of their study; Developing a positive attitude towards other people, respecting their right to hold different beliefs from their own and towards living in a society of diverse religions.
The purposes of RE? The purpose of religious education is to enable pupils to gain knowledge and understanding of religion(s). The purpose of religious education is to promote understanding of and respect for people whose cultures and beliefs are different from ones own and to promote a positive attitude towards living in a plural society. The purpose of religious education is to promote the personal, moral and spiritual development of pupils.
The purpose of RE is to promote the personal, moral and spiritual development of pupils (main aim); The purpose of RE is onto enable pupils to gain knowledge and understanding of religion(s) (instrumental aim); The purpose of RE is to promote understanding of and respect for people whose cultures and beliefs are different from one's own and to promote a positive attitude towards living in a plural society (consequential aim). Geoff Treece, 2011
Relevance It is clear that in the context of religious education, the dar al-ulum curriculum achieves the main and instrumental aims to a high degree. It could be argued that it does not meet the consequential aim. This is a challenge for perceptions of Dar al-ulum education as both policy makers and media tend to place the emphasis on the CONSEQUENTIAL aim of RE as being the MAIN aim, thus distorting understandings of relevance.