The following Quotes are taken from a book I have been reading called Educating the Muslims of America. It is a compilation of essays written by Muslims on various topics ranging from homeschooling, private schools and public schools to Islamic Media and Muslim Women in college. It was a great read and an eye-opener to say the least to the many issues facing not only Islamic Education in America but to the issues and struggles of parents as well as muslim students who are in alternative schools and public schools.
from an essay entitled Safe Havens or Religous Ghettos?
" ...self definition and identity maintenance pose one of the primary challenges facing Muslim communities in North America...."
"Many Muslim parents fear that the assimilative forces within public schools threaten to de-islamize their children. For example, negative peer pressure, drugs, alcohol use, dating, and violence in schools pose many challenges for Mulsim students attempting to maintain an Islamic Lifestyle and identity while at school."
"Yet Islamic schools, like other independant religious schools are also accused of "ghettozing" students and not providing socialization within a scoiety at large and are considered inadequate arenas for civic engagement in a racially and religously plural society due to their "particularist" orientation."
As you can see there are alot of issues surrounding the education of our children and I believe that every parent should give fair attention. The article links above go hand in hand with these quotes as the families begin to defend their choices for public, islamic and homeschooling.
Identity issues is also playing a strong role in my decision making process. Because while I do not agree that Islamic schools are ghettos, I do feel that they are safe havens and I have actually heard many many friends and family members use the term "bubble" when describing islamic schooling. One friend mentioned to me that once she entered college it was hard for her to associate with members of the opposite sex becasuse she didnt know how to act around them. Another mentioned that she didnt know how to interact with non-muslims until she moved and had to start a new life in a new place. Other incidents include praying, fasting and wearing hijab in the work place.
I feel that if a child is surrounded by diversity then they will be exposed to difficult situations that question their religion but they will learn at an early age how to cope with them and how to respond to non-muslims and this in turn will build their identity and make it strong. Of course the home environment has to be strong Islamically and the parents have to engage in daily discourse to maintain open communications with their children. As you can see there is alot to reflect on when considering schools which leads me to my next topic.
In an essay by Priscilla Martinez called Muslim Homeschooling she says, "Muslim families are considered to be the fastest growing demographic of homeschoolers in the country." Why do Muslim parents choose to take responsibility of educating their children at home?
"Muslim homeschoolers understand that it is their responsibilty to teach their children how to achieve God-consciousness and strengthen their Islamic identity through their own example in every aspect of their lives.This can only be instilled in an environment that fosters God-consciouness, not through the social and educational environments of public school settings."
A friend of mine emailed me the following links from a great site called growmama.com. I had never heard of the site but found it to be a great community of muslim mom bloggers. The following are great articles that explore families who have selected different types of schooling for their children and why: