Critical thinking & community empowerment: coming soon to a staff room near you?

An MTA training event “Muslim Teachers of the Future” yesterday raised the level, urgency and sheer importance of investigative sessions such as Healing Fractures II.

Odd thing to write under a heading which includes the word “Critical thinking”, but if Sunday’s event is anything to go by, I want to start by quite uncritically recommending  Muslim Teacher’s Association‘s training days at the Institute of Education:

Where else do £10 normally let you listen to, and discuss directly with, a leader of an global interfaith charity, several international educational consultants in school and B2B curriculum development, seasoned innovators in diversity and minority issues, a politician, innovative curriculum developers, heads, teachers, researchers from a variety of ethnic, religious and professional backgrounds? In many ways, everyone present was of a level, experience and heartfelt engagement that made me wish they had all been present at Healing Fractures last Monday – and did I mention all tables had flowers and that lunch was included?

Rosemary Campbell Stephens: “Colour blind or just plain blind?”

Rosemary Campbell-Stevens needs no further introduction: She did not refer to any “minorities” in her presentation; it actually took me a while to work out who she was referring to by “global majority.” White European, are you? You constitute a microscopic minority, mate. It’s just a question of the frame.

Speaking of frames: First Ms Campbell-Stephens had a go at the concept of “colour blindness”, normally seen as a positive. Key points here: “What sense does it make for Government to be colour blind in Birmingham? Didn’t the various authors of various reports notice those people were Asians? Or did they just feel who these people were was irrelevant?”

Begs the questions posed by Hallaq’s seminal work “Islamic State” about the benefits of localised versions of the Sharia in traditional Islamic societies – which reflected the culture and temperament of the environment, whether Andalusia or China – over and above a one-size-fits all remote-controlled State law-machinery of the Enlightenment programme: Especially now that dismantling of Local Authority has effectively removed one of the final key areas where various local groups could challenge state narratives about issues such as race, culture, poverty.

“Colour blindness” is the tip of the iceberg. The latest media gags of “racism no longer being an issue in Britain” by a certain politician covers a more subtle issue raised by Ms Campbell-Stephens: What does it even matter that blacks, or Asians, or any other UK minority group breaks the glass ceiling, if they are unable to renovate the roof? What power do you wield if you can occupy a space, but not change it? The phrase she used was to “exhale in the workplace.” That means not feeling compelled to get rid of dreadlocks, or “ethnic” earrings, or the scarf in the office, but to come in and make a meaningful change with what and who you are, exactly as a “white British” person would, for the benefit of everyone. These examples came out in the discussion, by the way.

Yet here are the teachers, duly teaching the British value of democracy…

Ed Walsh: “Need words in science, too”
You’d think that a model outstanding science lesson by Ed Walsh would be a break from the endless negotiations of meaning;  finally something solid,  tangible,  indisputable!  Not so.
In two rounds we were presented with tightly managed social construction to facilitate thinking,  reflection and precise, concise scientific thinking through language!
These sessions warrant their own posts. In relation to my previous posts on Mr Peal’s lunges at student-centred learning, given Mr Walsh has 15+ years in teaching, it seems less clear why we should pay any attention to a book written by a thirty-years-old w. 2 years of experience, published by a right-wing think tank.
When it all comes together
In the above, we have driven home the point that reality is up for grabs, and posited that creating reality, not “getting” it from someone else, is not only a vital skill in any democratic society, but is also the best way to teach outstanding lessons. In relation to the comment on Peal’s book above, I stand by his point that poor, undirected “lazy teacher” social constructivism is not an option. My claim is simply that using classroom management tools such as Cooperative Learning will put this type of high-powered, outstanding teaching into the hands of even unqualified teachers.
Question: may politics and science conceivably be taught using the same lesson plan? Just a question.
More on this event and its connection to the themes of Healing Fractures II in following posts. Other topics presentations by Mr Amjal Masroor, Maimonides Interfaith Foundation and Connect2Colour (which, incidentally, is NOT about race) and the proposition that Sir Michael is actually an alright guy (I apologise in advance for poking fun at him in a previous article). Follow on @werdelin_CL.
MTA: More information at their revamped site.

An interesting related example is Matthew Vince’s research on Muslim teachers navigating Islam in RE state-school curriculum, found here.
 is the business end of

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