In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Muslims and the Hidden Purpose of Schooling

In this day and age,it is important that Muslims take a greater role in the debates about the education of our children and how best they should spend their hours in the quest for knowledge. No doubt, all knowledge is essential whether some choose to use terms such as secular or religious, or whether they see education in a more holistic fashion. There are some pertinent questions that require reflection especially for Muslims who live in the west, such as:

1) What quality education is available?
2) Are we satisfied with the way kids are turning out by grade 12? Specifically, at the end of that grade, will they be men and women that we can be proud of?
3) Is there a better way to educate our children?
4) A serious question to ponder over is whether our quest for a comfortable dunya has been at the expense of our children's akhirah?

There is a saying in home school circles that states, "if you want little Romans send your kids to Caesar's schools!” This is food for thought to say the least.

Regarding the purpose of public schools in the West, H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924,

"The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever pretensions of politicians, pedagogues other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else."

The truth that Mencken has stated above has been verified by the scores found in the 2011 Scholastic aptitude test. Unfortunately, they are the lowest to date. It appears that many of the children who come out of most schools have gone through some type of cookie cutter machine and one would be hard pressed to find an original thought or even the attempt at thinking critically or creatively about the world. If they cannot think about the information they are processing, then are they really thinking at all? Is it not necessary that we all verify or ask questions about the textbooks or articles we come to contact with? It seems that unless you go to elite schools you will not have the luxury of debating or writing critically about important subjects. This leaves the rest of the students attending mediocre schools many times with the inability to defend themselves either through written work or through debate or argument. The ramifications, especially for Muslim children are enormous. Author John Taylor Gatto puts forth the idea that children are no longer equipped to deal with highly intellectual written work, nor have the intellectual fortitude to weigh ideas that are put forth.

"We're talking about a contest here between the active literacies and the inactive literacies. So inactive literacy would be a reading ability equal to reading instructions or lists, but not to deal with difficult ideas. Active literacies would involve the higher levels of reading, where you're actually entering someone else's mind and feeling the way it moves around an idea, but mainly writing and speaking, because writing and speaking gives access to people, whereas reading's a solitary thing."

Students today require the ability to assess ideas that are being indoctrinated in them at schools that have largely slipped in their standards of teaching Math, English and Science. Schools appear more interested in inculcating ideas regarding safe sex, sexual orientation and the environment among other topics. These latter topics are more often taught in a manner that is at odds with Islamic stances to these issues. Unfortunately, however time at home is usually wasted away on frivolous pursuits and one wonders when these topics will be addressed beyond that which is given quickly in their weekend Muslim schools, if it is given at all. Most parents do not understand the dimensions of what they are up against, since many grew up overseas and believe that the school system is simply about reading, writing and arithmetic. They do not process the fact that there is a massive indoctrination campaign going on and that this indoctrination is generally antagonistic to their cultures, families and religion. The results are what we see today, children alienated from their roots and unfortunately their religion. Moreover, many become hostile to any criticism of the information they have received, believing it to be the ultimate verifiable truth or truths. What is required are community based talks that address these issues in a coherent manner;a manner that will give them the strength of conviction to assess and withstand the deviant ideas that are constantly being presented to them. Insha'Allah,given the proper perspectives and explanations our Muslim children can and will have a criterion whereby they can judge and consider all issues using our beloved sources the Quran and Sunnah.

This topic of indoctrination was widely researched By John Taylor Gatto in his book, "The Underground History of American Education," where he details the journey from an America that was literate with 98% literacy in some states to what we have today a system that is populated with those who have minimal to low literacy. The adoption of Skinnerian behavioral techniques that espouse the necessity of using whistles and bells as the children are dogs in training is eye opening information.
Gatto highlights a hidden curriculum that teaches children something deemed more important than the usual subjects we normally think of. This hidden curriculum teaches kids their place in society their attitudes towards consumer items an attitude that is characterized by an obsession for the latest gadgetry, and of always needing more. In addition, the hidden curriculum makes children envious of what others have, whether it is an, "A" report card or the latest Nike shoes. Islamic schools that promote prophetic values do counter these values,however the predominant majority of Muslim children go to regular public schools. Islamic values could be taught that promote the belief that importance should be attached to ideas such as doing ones best without comparison with others or values such as thrift for charitable purposes. One of the ugliest and woeful stories one may occasionally hear about on the news, deals with department stores having super sales and shoppers trampling over each other at times resulting in death in order that someone obtains these items.

The hidden curriculum also teaches students to only think about how to get good jobs not about how to be entrepreneurs who will make the good jobs. This is because these schools get much funding from entrenched business interests that wish to maintain their monopolies in the market. The full details on how schools implement this social engineering program and what steps they take to do it is explained both in his books and many of his articles. One of his main points refers to the fact that being constantly interrupted leads to massive indifference. This apathy is reflected in attitudes towards others including animals and the environment, and has led to children that are narcissistic;children who have excessive self-love. They put their needs and desires above those of others to the point that it had become detrimental to the healthy functioning of society. Thankfully,the remedy for apathy is not difficult,it entails leading a meaningful life in the pursuit of Allah's pleasure and a goal of seeking nearness to him. This is the quest that our beloved prophet, Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, directed us towards and it is an exciting endeavor if it is understood and contemplated properly. Without a doubt, the catch to this quest is that we observe our existence through the lenses of deep thought and speculation.

Following are some of his articles explaining these issues:

http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs37-gattointerview.html

http://www.cantrip.org/gatto.html

Gatto on elite schools in comparison to ordinary ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11g9Tnmvo3Q

By MJ

Vision Without Glasses

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