Friday, December 15, 2006

'Thinking Skills' in Islamic Education

[12 December 2006 - The American Muslim - By Jeremy Henzell-Thomas] Increasing emphasis is being placed on ‘Thinking Skills’ in Western education systems, either as a specific program or as a strand ideally woven into all subject areas. In the UK, for example, one of the factors behind this development is the justifiable concern that the national curriculum has progressively abandoned the philosophy and practice of holistic education and is now dominated by a narrow concept of ‘schooling’ (and its associated testing regime) geared disproportionately to uninspiring utilitarian objectives. Tony Blair has made it clear on more than one occasion that it is the provision of a 'workforce’ to drive forward national economic performance which is the top priority in his vision of 'education’. The negative effect of this target-driven schooling regime on the morale of schoolchildren has been well documented. Disaffection and truancy are rife, and self-harm, depression and even suicide are increasing alarmingly amongst young people. In his challenging book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, New York State Teacher of the Year John Taylor Gatto makes a powerful indictment of the assumptions and structures which underlie modern state schooling in the USA and exposes the same deadening utilitarian agenda which informs British educational policy - an agenda geared to turning children into cogs in an economic machine, children who are dependent, conforming, materialistic, and lacking in curiosity, creativity, imagination, self-knowledge, and powers of intellectual inquiry and reflection. The thrust for Thinking Skills education has largely focused on the development within schools of a teaching and learning culture which promotes 'Critical and Creative Thinking’. This is a welcome development in many ways, and it has to be said that there is a particularly pressing need to revive such a teaching and learning culture in the Muslim world. More

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