E-mails and comments welcome from teachers and learners of all ages.  
December 30, 2002
Muslim homeschooling

Michael Peach, a strong supporter of home education, links to a report that there has been an increase in the number of Muslims in the USA who are choosing to homeschool their children. (Daryl Cobranchi also alludes to a similar story.) Sets alarm bells ringing, doesn't it? Says Mike:

Now just as I don't agree with the state being involved in education I don't agree with religion being involved in it either. Sure, educate about the various religions of the world if you choose to but to base your whole education system on religious principle. .... Sorry, I find it all kind of scary.

I believe in home education and I think parents are responsible for their children's education so should I be for this or against it? I just don't know.

I'm not certain either, but my inclination is to say: let it happen, and worry about any damage it does when it does it and not before. (Incidentally, does Mike also worry about all those homeschooling Christians in the USA?)

I suppose there are two fears about Muslim homeschooling. First, it will result in an irrevocably divided community, divided along religious lines, similar to the divided community we Brits already have in Northern Ireland. Second, it will (maybe) breed (just a tiny few) terrorists.

But look at it this way. If Muslims don't get - or are somehow not allowed to exercise the right to home education, then they are more than ever likely to insist on having Muslim schools. And what is more likely to be taken over by Wahahbi maniacs? Muslim families or Muslim schools? I'd say Muslim schools. And I'd especially say publicly funded Muslim schools, in which consumers (i.e. parents) can be kept at arm's length and lorded over by the externally-funded producers, the people running the place.

Also, if the only way to get a Muslim education is to send your kids to a Muslim school, that might reinforce the tendency of Muslims to live in separate communities, in order to get into the right school catchment area. But if they are the masters of their own houses, no need for them to move house to get the sort of lives they want for themselves and their children.

None of which is certain. But if you are uncertain, go with freedom.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:03 PM
Category: Home education
[0]
Comments

Yes, agreed, Brian, go with the freedom.

Any family with a strong religious belief is going to attempt to inculcate their children with those beliefs,homeschooling or not, whatever persuasion they prefer.

It is scary when fundamentalists of any stripe have unalleviated control over their children. There is a polygamous community in the US that, last year, pulled their children out of the government schools in their town, by order of their patriarch, to homeschool them. Overnight, the schools lost 90% of thier customers/pupils, and the schools closed. This is the kind of oppresive religious cult that marries the young girls off to the old men, that hunt down girls who run away and bring them back. The children in that community don't have recourse to the outside world. That's scary.

I live in a homeschooling famiy without religious persuasion, and it is hard to find another non-religious homeschooling famiy within hundreds of miles (not being in a large population center). We see Christian homeschoolers being quite exclusive, some not allowing their children to be friends with anyone outside of their religious circles.

Any religion can be oppresive. I am all for the freedom to homeschool, and I share the concern for children of fundamentalist religious homeschooling families. I doubt that US Muslim families are homeschooling in order to produce terrorists, but there is always the possibility that a few are. Taking away the freedom to autonomously educate, though, is not a good solution to that problem. Freedom is important for the creativity and knowledge creation necessary for finding good solutions. The risks are worth it, imo.

Comment by: lars on December 30, 2002 05:34 PM

The vast majority of homeschoolers in the US are fundamentalist Christians, no doubt about it. I really don't think however, that public, secular education can 'undo' fundamentalist values & beliefs anyway. As a teacher, almost every child I've known has pretty much followed the values learned in the home. A related issue is that of school vouchers, and here, the problem is, I think more acute. I certainly don't want to PAY for fundamentalist education.

Comment by: ellie on December 30, 2002 10:46 PM

"The vast majority of homeschoolers in the US are fundamentalist Christians, no doubt about it."

I wouldn't go so far as to say that a vast majority of homeschoolers are fundie christians. The homeschooling community has changed in the last few years. Homeschooling has become more "mainstream". In my particular area, there are equal fundie christian homeschoolers as there are secular ones.

Comment by: Camille on December 31, 2002 06:13 AM

Hi Everyone,

I think this is a good discussion. I like the freedoms involved in homeschooling my kids. I really support everyones freedoms to do this. I happen to be a Muslim and even though I wear the headscarf, I am by no stretch an extremist. I have quite liberal views about human rights and social justice and as a Muslim I plan to give my kids more than just a religious education. In fact we'll focus on secular materials most of the time. (The nice thing about homeschooling is that we can still observe our 5 daily prayers together) and I'll be able to teach them some history that wouldn't be available as curriculum in public school. Our public schools over here are very overcrowded and riddled with gangs, drugs and the like. I think, as an educated woman I can find many resources to enrich my children more so than the public school. Even though I'll be homeschooling, I will especially teach my children respect for other people's beleif systems and cultures. I feel very committed to that. I think that most people, no matter what religion they are or what culture they come from, try to teach cooperation and acceptance. Lately, there has been a lot of post September 11 backlash against the Muslim community. These hate-crimes and incidents have targetted many school children. Parents really appreciate the option to homeschool, especially if they feel that their child is in danger.

Comment by: Corey on June 23, 2004 08:31 AM

check out this guy's funny muslim website at

http://www.jackshiles.com/Muslim_Humor/muslim_humor.html

Comment by: king ralph jones on August 8, 2004 02:03 AM
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