Seminar at IEC2014: Opening Minds, Closing Achievement Gaps

– Empowering Identity and Community Building through Cooperative Learning

I am very honored to be invited to present a seminar entitled “Opening Minds, Closing Achievement Gaps – Empowering Identity and Community Building through Cooperative Learning” at the Islamic Education Conference at Queen Elizabeth II in London on June 2. The conference looks to be the largest gathering of educationists from the Muslim faith sector in the UK during 2014.

The IEC2014 is organized by the Association of Muslim Schools (UK), who “recognizes that the means for effectively meeting the needs of all students is through effective partnerships and collaboration and, by building bridges of understanding between the Muslim faith school sector and mainstream education”.

As members of the biggest and most conspicuous religious/ethnic group in this country, we all recognise that Muslim educators need to pick up the gauntlet and take part in addressing cohesion issues of multicultural society.

As I have pointed out in several previous posts, the business-driven global drive towards Student-Centred Learning presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

One of the most promising aspects of Student-Centred Learning has been the structural approach to Cooperative Learning, whose basis in social constructivism works especially well with multicultural students in relation to not only learning outcomes and social skills, but to formulation of authentic identities and narratives which provide rooting in the local community.

On that wider scale of community building, this shift towards effective student-centredness has the potential to empower students by making them responsible for their own learning, their identity, their narratives and, per extension, their lives.

Acquiring the tools to positively operationalize the Islamic heritage in a modern context will not only help solve internal community problems, but provide an authentic sense of inclusion, thus rolling back the current culture of disenfranchisement and unacceptable disengagement in relation to wider society. 

This could potentially provide input to problems confronting Britain by trailblazing a way for other minority communities to find a footing in their own unique values and histories.This is especially relevant as all sectors are invited to attend the IEC2014, including the HE sector and, local authorities.

This talk is both a gloss to and an extension of the presentation “The Student/Centred Classroom & the Self-Centred Student” at the British Association for Islamic Studies at Edinburgh University in April.

The seminar aims to include a discussion on the current crisis as presented by non-Muslims alternative educators and thinkers, paradigm shifts in education in relation to business needs and 21c skills, current trends in criticism of modernity and the scientific project over and above the successful human being and the overarching purpose of education under Capitaism. It also aims to discuss the issue of enquiry-based learning and the opening of controversial topics in the safe zone of true intellectual debate, building bridges to British, and European, education throughout history – most notably the Trivium.

I’ll be dropping of some more hints and quotes along the way as the talk is fleshed out to give readers a taste and perhaps encourage them to attend – working together across the board on successful integration is absolutely vital: if the research described in my posts on April’s Edinburgh conference paints an accurate picture, there is a long way to go, and yet much hope ahead. 

Here’s a taster:

“…generated communication and collaboration skills will be transferable to community building, infused with democratic values of debating, while facilitating the character building which has been the aim Muslim education since time immemorial – and is – amazingly – now on the list of of business driven 21c skills. It cannot be done under the current attainment driven school ethos … and here Cooperative Learning comes in to provide exactly that full integration of these soft AND those quantifiable hard skills that Ofsted wants to see.”

Get notifications of related posts on twitter.

IEC2014 homepage.

Short original presentation on the other site.


5 thoughts on “Seminar at IEC2014: Opening Minds, Closing Achievement Gaps

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: