Good learning, good food and the meaning of secular materialism
A brief summary of our first run of Enquiry & Immersion Field Trip to Ihsan Mosque, November 13, 2014.
Morning session – “not like a classroom at all”
Undaunted by materials more suited for Phds, mostly Gifted&Talented Year 10 and a couple of year 9s set to it with a vengeance.
As always, watching children work is a learning curve for the teacher, too. I have to admit that as I was observing and scaffolding individual teams, I knew I had set the bar too high.
It says very little about my savvy as a teacher and a lot about the the students and Cooperative Learning as a method that the feedback was so positive all round. It was interesting to hear their subjective learning experiences afterwards over lunch; especially they pointed out the focus created by not wanting to let the team down, and getting allocated both space to focus and the space to discuss and get help as key factors.
“…needed to apply yourself, but materials not too hard”
– Max, Year 10, Acle Academy
When reading the above comment, one should bear in mind one of the Year 9s got an extract from Craig’s presentation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument and felt “it was alright.” The ability to legally “get what you get” gives every student a chance, even if it is just a few key points, or a single new concept. “Secular materialism” springs to mind; a special thank you to the “sects” team!
That being said, I am looking to create a wider scope in relation to levels for the next session of Enquiry & Immersion. I am also considering having RE teachers “bring their own,” as it would facilitate the exact teaching they would need in relation to lesson plans, yet the learning would fuse directly with the very open personal meeting in the mosque, where questions could be asked directly. (RE teachers interested in this model should contact me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org).
Some other very interesting comments include that the session felt “a lot more relaxed than in normal school” in spite of the rigorous timing on interaction, yet expressing a feeling of “not being in a classroom” and that one “didn’t feel pressured to not misbehave.” There is simply too much engagement and subtle peer pressure for real off-task behavior. I’ll try to find time to get in more on this later. Get notifications of related posts on twitter.
Note that the Enquiry & Immersion Field Trip incorporates key elements of Islam in RE: Religious Literacy and Controversy through Enquiry, being presented at the Institute of Education in London Friday 21 November.
An afternoon at the mosque
After my session, Hajj Tariq Amin of the Ihsan Mosque took over, and we all sat down for lunch. The ladies siphoned off upstairs and had a long chat on gender roles in Islam and whatnot, out of earshot of any present males, while the boys stayed down, talking to the rest of us as people dropped by, sitting to eat a bite or even just see what was going on.
Paraphrasing our chef, Hajj Rashid of Jamoroc catering, “Eating is meeting”. With both noon and afternoon prayers close together, the students got to see both live and ask questions, integrated with some personal stories and the mosque tour by Hajj Tariq Amin.
“Enjoyed everyone eating from just one plate.”
-Billy, Year 9, Acle Academy
Hajj Tariq narrates how he was stood up by his mate the day he was to become Muslim. “And I thought ‘What’s this?!’ If it had been a church, they would have been all over me”
For me personally, the best thing was the comment that there was a real sense of community in the mosque, as people came and went between prayers, chatting, shaking hands, or just sitting quietly reciting Qur’an in the other end of the room. Space for everyone.