I’m about to confess a rather controversial opinion. No, it doesn’t concern hijab, but something almost as beloved as a solution-to-all-problems-ever:
I do not think, homeschooling is a viable, or indeed the most beneficial option for Muslim families.
1) Most families do not have the resources or the ability to homeschool their children and they never will. Economic realities mean both parents are increasingly having to work to support their families. Also, and I think it shows how little we value teachers that I have to state this, but not everyone can teach. It’s more then just going through textbooks.
This means that homeschooling remains an Utopian ideal, something to sigh and say “if only” over, rather then work towards something tangible and achievable, things like Islamic schools, better Islamic afterschool clubs/madrassas and social events.
2)”But mainstream education will indoctrinate my child with anti-Islamic values!”
Well, we do live as a religious minority. You cannot isolate your child from society for ever and I think by doing so with the concept that non-Muslims are “bad” and to be kept away from, you are causing your child more harm then good, because they are going to have to mix with non-Muslims
…Unless you make hijrah and move to one of those magical Muslim lands where you can hear the athan five times a day so everyone is very, very good. I don’t actually know of a single Muslim country that is actually like this though.
Most Muslim children will attend a mainstream school. Instead of having hypothetical arguments about homeschooling, why don’t we discuss strategies of ensuring our children get the maximum out of their education. We could actually talk to our children and young people and get their opinions, if that’s not too radical.
3) We need to raise our children with the desire to benefit society, not to live apart from it. Islam is meant to be a shining light to all humanity. How can a cloistered generation reach out to people when they have no experience of the society they live in?
4)Another argument for homeschooling is that it enables learning to be tailored to the needs of the child. Again, I argue that this is poor preparation for life, because in the grown up world it’s not about you and ensuring that you are always stimulated. In working and academic life, you have to fit around other people’s routines. In one of the the best known Islamic universities, if you are more then five minutes late for a class, you are denied entry.
5)There is a fear that children who are schooled in the mainstream system will “lose” their Islam. I’ve used quote marks because I believe that if you have Islam in your heart, you will never truly lose it. Maybe people make mistakes, aren’t always so practicing, but if you truly know and love the deen, insha Allah you will return to it.
There is lots of Chicken Little style doom and gloom about the future of Islam in the West, despite the fact that all the evidence shows that it is becoming more popular and not just through conversions, but people from culturally Muslim families are choosing to become more practicing. Possibly this is because if you know what non-Muslim society has to offer and you also learn what life has a Muslim involves, then to choose Islam is a choice made with knowledge and sincerity.
Just because I don’t feel homeschooling is practical for most Muslims, does not mean that I feel parents cannot teach their children anything at all. On the contrary, I think parents should be both teachers and exemplers for their children in terms of an Islamic lifestyle. To me, this is a large enough task without adding the burden of being solely responsible for a child’s secular education too.
Filed under: Uncategorized |