Paper accepted for the BRAIS Inaugural Conference

The Student-Centred Classroom & the Self-Centred Student

On the subject of cooperative learning in the Muslim context, we just received confirmation that the British Association for Islamic Studies has accepted my proposal submitted for their inaugural conference in Scotland this Spring:

Abstract of

The Student-Centred Classroom & the Self-Centred Student

– challenges and opportunities of cooperative learning

for Muslim learners

by Jakob Werdelin

This paper will confront the question of the uncritical adoption by Muslim governments and Muslim minority schools in the West of dominant trends in Western education; in particular, the student-centred classroom and its fundamental re-framing of the concept of authority, truth and the role of the individual per se.

The paper will explore the potential conflicts and opportunities presented by cooperative and student-centred learning and will focus on peer learning, critical assessment, discovery and higher level thinking skills, set against the traditional Islamic educational ethos of teacher-centred classrooms delivering ‘closed-source’, pre-vetted information. It also examines the Muslim response to the discourse of critical thinking.

Key issues will include: Islamic perspectives on the child ego; the nature of knowledge; the role of teachers in ‘truth’ discovery exercises; setting limits to ‘open source’ learning; the relevance of logic and rhetoric; the application of cooperative learning to fostering adab and its potential empowerment of local communities.

The paper finally recommends the use of an increased confidence and expertise amongst Muslim academics and practitioners to revise current educational discourses to re-direct the open mindset and self-confidence afforded by the student-centred classroom towards the active reconstruction by Muslim students themselves of dominant narratives.

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