to an Allah Centred
By C. R. Sulaiman
There is a growing movement in the
United States called Home Schooling. It is an answer to the growing
dissatisfaction and disaffection with the American public school
system. It is not hard to understand why. Recently ABC's newsmagazine
20/20 and the Muslim magazine, "The Message," (November
1995) exposed many of the problems.
The public school is now used as
a laboratory for social and educational experimentation. These theories
by in large have shown to be dismal failures in educating children.
Even so these models are not removed, changed or replaced. One of
these new theories is called "Outcome Based Education".
In this system students are taught and graded as a group. If only
one child of the group works hard and completes the assignment,
while the rest do nothing but sign their name, all will profit from
the work of the one. The student who did all the work on project
becomes disheartened and in future will do less work. Those who
depended on the hard work an effort of the responsible student have
no sense of accomplishment or their own worth. The system rewards
Another educational theory is called
Whole Language. In this learning technique instead of teaching reading,
spelling and the rules of writing, children are read to. Eventually,
it is hoped that they will learn to read and write well through
osmosis. Parental concerns are considered unimportant, as the Professionals
"know better". Old techniques that have actually taught
children reading, writing and Arithmetic, are not revived.
A school administrator in California
told the interviewer from 20/20 that the old techniques that focus
on rote memorization and drill, stifle creativity and should not
be returned to. To counter this idea others have suggested the creativity
is actually enhance and increased when matters of rules and form
are already learned. Students are not bogged down with questions
of spelling, looking up every word to come up with a readable sentence.
The purpose of writing is to transmit thoughts and ideas to another
person. That process is thwarted when much of the sentence is not
spelled correctly with no phonetically base. Children with this
knowledge start a step or two ahead.
Muslims might ask themselves how
the Prophet (saws) taught. They might also remember how ayat are
learned. They are learned by the very techniques, rote memorization
and drill, that the teaching "professionals" malign. Children
also learn many ideas in the classroom that are destructive to Islamic
values and parental authority. One
health education textbook informs; "Testing your ability to
function sexually and to give pleasure to another person may be
less threatening in early teens with people of your own sex."
Also, "You may come to the conclusion that growing up means
rejecting the values of your parents." Students were told not
to take the text home, but to keep it in their lockers. One might
think that parents can remove their children from these offending
classes and remove these offending texts, but it has become increasingly
difficult. School officials feel that these topics are too important
for students to be excused from (The Message, November 1995). There
are many other reasons that Muslims, like other families choose
to home school.
Six common reasons:
1. Public and/or private school are
not as thorough as a parent wishes. The schools may have turned
children away from being interested, self-motivated learners into
the exact opposite. Taking the joy of learning away from them.
2. No Muslim full time school close
to home or too expensive.
3. Removing children from an environment
unfriendly to religion, especially Islam. In these environments'
teachers and administrators actually work against the parents authority,
shifting it to themselves. Other children can pick up on the hostilities
and mirror them back to Muslim children. Girls seem to receive the
most abuse, especially if they wear hijab. Children experiencing
this dual message often become confused and rebellious.
4. The wish to remove children from
an environment of drugs, violence, alcohol, sexual experimentation,
gangs and peer pressure. To give them back an education in a healthy,
safe, secure, Allah centred environment. Thus adding the benefit
of directing them to healthy associations.
5. A desire to set a school schedule
more friendly to the demands of an Islamic life. When home schooling
a parent need not worry about conflict arising from a desire to
have the children attend Jummah prayer, or going to Hajj, even travelling
during the cool months to other parts of the world. A home schooling
family sets its own schedule. Classes can be held on Saturday and
Christian holidays, while being light
during Ramadan and stop for Eid.
6. Continuity in education. When
a family moves often disruption between differing systems and teachers
can cause serious problems with resulting gaps in education. With
homeschooling continuity is always maintained.
Sadly, many Muslim parents don't
know about the home schooling alternative exists and others have
many questions regarding home schooling.
In fact, home schooling is legal
in all 50 states! A child may begin home schooling at any time during
the school year, however Alabama and Tennessee have certain rules
regarding mid-year changes. It is important to remember that education
is compulsory for the ages of 6-16 yrs in the United States.
Simply removing your child from the
public and some private school systems without demonstrating the
alternative educational form you've chosen, will expose you and
your family to legal trouble.
Parents don't need to know everything
either. In many cases parents learn right along with their children.
Sometimes even choosing topics they themselves wish to explore,
but did not when they were in school.
Parents who home school can find
great latitude in the curriculum used for their endeavors. There
are many choices of curriculum and Muslims are working hard to provide
more choices. A parent can also choose to use curriculum from another
country. However, problems with imported curriculum can come from
school administrators who are not familiar with the texts. This
can be avoided by mixing in various American texts, for subjects
like English, phonics, reading and spelling.
Muslim parents who wish to home school
sometimes decide not to because of the issue of the language barrier.
When English is not spoken in the home, or spoken very little, parents
appropriately question whether their children will receive enough
"language exposure". They wonder if their children will
be able to function well in American society if education is primarily
in another language.
Learning English is important for
Muslim children to function in the United States, and several alternatives
are available. "English as a Second Language" programs
are being developed by the Muslim community. It is also possible
to hire an English tutor. Other possibilities include English classes
at the masjid for many home schooling families.
Fear of school, local and state officials
is another reason some families who wish to home school but do not.
Many feel handicapped in effectively dealing with this possible
threat when the language barrier is very much present. This is a
very valid reason when one considers that native born citizens are
harassed and bullied for home schooling.
School, local and state officials
are often very much against home schooling.. When a parents chooses
to home school and removes a child from the classroom many districts
loose money. The federal government gives schools money based on
head count, by removing their children, a parent lowers the amount
of money a school system will receive.
Choosing to home school also means
rejecting the idea of centralized state schools and authority. Many
teachers and administrators believe that they are the only persons
qualified to teach children Homeschoolers challenge this notion
and actively fight any proposal that they be required to take certification
programs or tests.
Finally choosing to home schooling
might simply be saying to the teacher, principal, administrator
that the schools aren't good enough or that they are doing a lousy
job at educating. School, local and state officials often count
on families not knowing their rights, when they bully and intimidate.
It is for this reason and the bigotry that Muslims in the United
States face that Muslim Home School Network and
Resource encourages Muslim home schooler's
to secure legal representation before beginning to home school.
There are two national organizations
that represent home schooler's.
Home School Legal Defense Association
P.O. Box 159
Paeonian Springs, Virginia 22129
(540) 338-5600 (9-5 EST, M-F)
John W. Whitehead
The Rutherford Institute
P.O. Box 7482
Charlottesville, VA 22906-7482 United
800-225-1791 (9-5 EST, M-F)804-978-3888
Both these organizations are Christian
lead legal firms, but they represent all home schooler's. They strongly
believe that the threat to one family's right to home school is
a threat to all. Please contact one of these organizations BEFORE
contacting your state and local officials about your wish to home
school. Also ask for a copy of the laws of your state regarding
home schooling and study them carefully. Please do this so that
you have the most reliable information possible. There are also
lawyers on the local level who represent homeschoolers.
Another issue the homeschoolers grapple
with is that of "socialization". Society tends to believe
as a whole that the only socialization a child receives is at school.
One must ask, "To what are children being socialized to in
the public school system? Drug use, gangs, disrespect, crime?"
In his study titled, Comparison of
Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students,
L. Edward Shyers, Ph.D. of the University of Florida, (1992) came
to the conclusion that "appropriate social skills can develop
apart from the formal contact with children other than siblings.
This supports the belief held by
There is research that shows that
home schooled children are in fact exposed to the same number of
social contacts as publicly schooled children. Home schooler's believe
however that it is not the number of contacts that is important
but the quality of those contacts that matter. "Parents should
be considered the best social mentors for their children. Children
who are involved with the family in their daily lives on a loving
basis continually until the child is eight to ten years will feel
a stronger tie into the family. This feeling of belonging gives
them a sense of self-worth, which is an important factor in positive
sociability. These children are friendlier as well as less dependent
on peer values as they reach adolescence. In general they are happier,
better adjusted, more thoughtful, competent, and sociable children."(
Moore, R., (1986). Research on Sociability. The Parent Educator
A study by B. Henderson, (1989).
Home School: Taking The First Step. Kooskia, Id: Mountain Meadow)
showed that children's self esteem in an environment of public schools
lose their sense of self-worth dramatically as they progress through
the grades. One the other hand in another study home schooled children
were found to have high self esteem.
After reading all the research home
schooler Jay Sutton concluded that, " We tend to become like
those whom we associate with." The Prophet Mohammed (saws)
said this same thing over 1400 years ago. Home schooling parents
can direct their children to healthy associations more easily than
parents whose children are in the public school.
Many home schoolers' enrol their
children in the YMCA to satisfy Physical Education requirements
and serve the dual purpose of social time. Other social avenues
Muslim parents have adopted are clubs such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts,
4H, children's craft and sewing classes offered by local stores,
and separate social organizations for boys and girls with in the
masjid, to name a few.
Lastly, parents considering home
schooling also wonder about their children being accepted to university/college.
More and more universities and colleges are accepting and even searching
out homeschoolers. Home schooler's are typically very self-motivated,
have extremely good study habits, and do better in the autonomous
Colleges and universities all expect
preparation equivalent to what students receive in public or private
Two books on the subject of home
schooler's and college admissions are; College Admissions -- A Guide
For Homeschoolers, by Judy Gelner is about her son's admission to
Rice University, Homeschooling for Excellence, tells about the Colfax
family who sent three of their sons to Harvard.