Now that we are almost near the end of the school year perhaps it’s time we took a closer look at the problems involved with schooling, parenting & teaching. Syed Neaz Ahmad reviews the shortage of teachers, abundance of courses, large number of books, the economic slump, and an uncompromising weather doesn’t help either. Well, teachers, parents and students face the same problems everywhere.
“My son has hidden or misplaced all his school reports and exam results since he was eleven. The school authorities put him in a lower class; and I didn’t know about it until it was too late. I only found out when he left the school with no qualifications.”
This can be anywhere – Asia, Africa, Europe or the Americas. Boys will be boys - but what about parents? This is one of the many cases that have been discussed in a study, The Muslim Parents’ Handbook. The canvas is Britain and the plight is that of the Muslim working class. Yes, despite what we read in the newspapers of Asians doing well in all walks of life – there is an underclass of less educated Muslim Asians. Their parents – majority of them – have little or no education and hence have the least understanding of their children’s progress at school.
A few years ago, many people were shocked to hear about the case of a Birmingham father who killed his daughter when she left Islam to become a Jehovah’s Witness – a Christian sect. “My teenage son and daughter have only non-Muslim friends. Neither my son nor my daughter has any respect for our values. They come and go as they please,” complains a distressed father.
These cases highlight a need for proper Islamic counseling made available to children as well parents. Considering the importance of the issue I think teachers, parents and administrators everywhere need to concentrate on what goes on in the young minds. This is a global phenomenon. Here in this country too we have had problems at some schools: teasing, bullying, lady teachers being manhandled – or was it ‘girl-handled’ – stabbings and shootings. We can’t afford to be apathetic and merely take a detached look about the problem – not against the background of the current situation.
Debate about education in multicultural Britain is generally about the problem of maintaining the identity of children in accordance with the parental wishes. Some groups have succeeded in educating their children in their own preferred ethos; others including Muslims, have only partly succeeded.
It is never too late to rectify a problematic situation. “Islamic education in the home and the mosque, a commitment to establishing proper Muslim schools and influencing the State system in their favor hold the key to the success of Muslim pupils,” is the observation of a Muslim community leader.
No book, no analysis and no report can be a do-it-yourself manual on obtaining the best of education for your children or how to become a more responsible parent but the guidelines have been provided. In Britain and some other countries Muslims may raise an argument or two about the curriculum in schools, but most Muslim countries find nothing wrong with their curriculum – and most probably it is so.
So what is the problem? The problem, dear Brutus lies not in our stars but in the handling of young minds. It is said that once a mother went to Aristotle to find out how best to educate her young son. Aristotle, it is reported, asked the mother about the age of the child. She said: “He’s five.” Aristotle implored the mother to rush home – she was already too late!
Now how many mothers and fathers have really tried to comprehend the tug-of-war in the young minds: what is good and what is bad, should I roam around with the gang or drive aimlessly around the shopping malls.
If you do not know where your teenager is and what he’s up to then social scientists are right to ask about the quality of parent-child relationship within your four-walls. We owe it to our children, our society and our culture to be caring parents.
If ignored social problems have a bad habit of spilling out on the streets. We simply can’t get away by blaming the television, the Internet, ‘bad’ schools and ‘bad’ teachers!