Challenges Of Weekend Schools And Some Solutions
By SoundVision.com Staff Writer
Sound Vision is working on a solution to one of the most important challenges
of being Muslim in America: educating our young.
Despite the best intentions, our present Weekend School (Sunday
School) classes are inadequate for a variety of reasons and our
biggest problems remain- what do we teach and how do we go about it?
We want our next generation to be well-balanced, knowledgeable Muslim
adults, who can positively connect with society at large.
HERE ARE THE FACTS OF OUR PRESENT SITUATION
- Ninty-nine percent of Muslim children attend public school. They are
not receiving an Islamic education (though they do have a golden opportunity
to convey Islam to other children through their exemplary conduct).
- Weekend Islamic schooling is usually only three hours, at the most.
Since these children do not attend any other Islamic school, these three
weekend hours are crucial to their Islamic education.
- Weekend teachers are usually well-meaning and highly motivated volunteers,
though they usually lack:
1. A formal education in Islam
2. Experience teaching children and young adults.
3. Clear lesson-plans, resources and support materials to follow.
4. A proper commitment to the task. As volunteers, some of them fail
to take the task seriously enough regarding punctuality and class preparation.
5. Proper facilities. The Weekend School environment is vastly inferior
to the environment provided at weekday schools, showing a conspicuous
lack of adequate space, good books and state-of-the-art learning tools.
- Our children's reactions, therefore, to weekend schools are often
1. Often forced by their parents to attend, many children see weekend
school as a punishment rather than the privilege that it is.
2. Most children, when old and bold enough, say "No!" to their
parents whenever Islamic Weekend School is mentioned.
- Problem points in the classes:
1. Teachers repeat topics unnecessarily, or fail to bring the subject
2. Teachers may not respect or acknowledge the intelligence of the students
3. The class atmosphere is negative and overemphasis is placed on moralizing–-more
"Don'ts!" than "Do's!"
4. Culturally formed, the teaching style may be old-fashioned rather
than effective in a modern American situation.
RECOGNIZING THE PROBLEM…
Vision is working on a solution! Certified Muslim educators and thinkers
have begun to develop Weekend Muslim School Lesson Plan which will be
made available for free on the Internet for immediate use AND for the
Muslim Community's input.
Sound Vision's Weekend Muslim School Lesson Plans will provide clear
and engaging guides to follow over a teaching span of five to ten years,
suitable for all age groups. They will provide easy-to-use tools for classroom
They will present ways to make classes interactive, through cooperative
projects, and questions and answers. Testing plans will be included. And
all of this will be made relevant to here and now-–American Muslim
life in the 21st Century.
The lesson plan will help prepare a busy volunteer teacher to do a better
job in class by investing as little as 20 minutes before class by including:
- All the points that should be covered.
- Tips on how to make classes interactive.
- Discussion topics.
- Appropriate questions, with quizzes and other methods to ensure class
- Tips for class control (class psychology, rewards & punishments,
- Tips for obtaining additional resources from websites or source books.
- Teaching tips for preparation to teach a unit before entering the
classroom ? to help focus the teacher, and provide complete and accurate
information to give a teacher full confidence in teaching.
- The basic foundation teachings of Islam will be divided into units
rather than "grades"or "levels"of teaching. This
will allow students, parents, and teachers to choose subject units that
are needed, and will avoid the tedium of repeating material unnecessarily
- The units will be divided into three areas:
1. Quran, Sunnah, Aqida (core beliefs), Fiqh (jurisprudence) and History.
2. Our world, our time, and tools to deal with them. A Muslim perspective
on modern society. How to live Islam today.
3. Our personal relationship with Allah and all human beings.
These exciting new Lesson Plans will be responsive to change and fine-tuning,
through a website invitation for comments and suggestions.
We are not creating a fixed model. The lesson plans will be dynamically
responsive to the input of its users. Once we write a series of units,
we will first share them with cooperating weekend school teachers who
will try them out, and also put them on the Internet as an Open Forum
responsive to your suggestions for additions or changes. And we will continue
this Open Forum even after it has begun to be used… (Sound Vision
is simply an expeditor of this very collaborative educational project!)
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
These Weekend Muslim School Lesson Plans are in the early stages of their
development. We need your participation to ensure its success!
- If you have Islamic Weekend School experience, please share it with
- If you are a current Islamic Weekend School teacher would you be
willing to participate in an exploratory survey of your students and
return it to us?
- If you have a Teacher's Certificate and writing skills, can you volunteer
time to help us write some of the Lesson Plans?
- As a Weekend School teacher, would you be willing to use these plans
on a trial/experimental basis?
The Weekend Muslim School Lesson Plan project is one more example of
Sound Vision's commitment to the community… and our answer to an
tomorrow's Muslims today!
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