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Camping for knowledge

Scholars and educationists gather to discuss the challenges of Islamic education for children in the UK

Muslim School Education Network (MSEN) held its 2nd Annual Educational & Spiritual Camp on 6th-8th April 2018 at Devere Harwood Estate in Milton Keynes. The programme was an exciting and unique opportunity to develop teaching methodology and techniques as well as work on spiritual enhancement and connection to God.  The teachers’ camp aims to familiarise teachers with recent advancements in moral development and character education of the children.

The focus of MSEN is to train teachers and community members, especially those who work in the evening and weekend Islamic schools, in the interactive teaching methods of various Islamic subjects in order to educate children of different ages and with differing levels of Islamic knowledge.

The annual camp provides a platform to exchange teaching experiences, discuss practical and interactive teaching methods such as storytelling, games, quiz, organise workshops, model lesson presentations and arrange scholarly led discussions.

MSEN was established in 2014 with the aim of helping both new and experienced teachers manage their schools and classrooms effectively and achieve educational objectives through quality advice from experts and scholars who understand the Islamic education system and the challenges faced Muslims living in the West.

Among the scholars and professionals present at the camp were Ayatullah Ramezani, Dr Shomali, Dr Jahangir (MSEN’s president), Sheikh Bahmanpour, Sayed Makki, Sheikh Mohammadian, Sheikh Abbas, Sheikh Rashid, Dr Naqvi, Sister Naqvi, Syed Masoomi and Mr Khaleeli. They took turns in introducing the best teaching methods and Islamic academic tools which make teaching more relevant and impactful.

In this year’s MSEN teachers’ training camp, chosen subjects covered content, curriculum, techniques of delivering Islamic education, classroom management and working with pupils who have challenging behaviour. Lessons covered included ‘Challenges of teaching akhlaq (ethics)’, ‘Spiritual enhancement and awakening’, ‘Ahkam (Islamic rules) for children living in the West’, ‘Challenges of teaching Qur’an to children’, ‘Questions about God’, ‘Motivational interviewing and structured problem solving skills’, ‘Relevant Quranic concepts for children (age 11-15) and creative methodologies for teaching them’, ‘Holistic approach to Islamic education need, challenges and implementation’ and finally  ‘The best practice model lessons on holistic approach’.

The organisers also allocated time for spiritual considerations and reflection as well as private consultations with scholars at different times during the course of the three days.One of the original aims of MSEN was to promote networking. It started out with the objective of bringing weekend and evening Islamic schools together in order to support children’s Islamic education and build a strong network of teachers under one banner. Therefore, joint effort and collaboration between scholars and professionals was other objective of the camp. Participants had the chance to discover how to build relationships, work together to improve partnerships, improve teachers’ and community alliances, and learn to navigate educational and parental challenges in today’s environment.

 

At its inception, MSEN was established as an alliance of six Sunday schools from London and Luton. This has now expanded to 17 Sunday schools throughout Britain and Scotland. Membership and attendance of MSEN’s events is open to any individual who is keen to teach, involved in community projects or Islamic schools even though their schools or community might not be MSEN members. Participants for the 2018 training camp came from as far afield as the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden.

One of the main concerns of MSEN’s trustees has always been the issue of children losing their interest in learning about their religion, especially when they reach the age of 11-12. They found that the curricula and syllabuses which were used in Islamic schools were repetitive, direct, tedious, lacking interactivity and in some cases not very suitable and practical for children living in Europe.

MSEN has started to create motivational lessons and activity plans for a wide range of Islamic subjects. It has completed the first set of Islamic curricula and interactive syllabuses in the hope of enabling Muslim schools to achieve the highest possible levels of knowledge and productivity.

Report by Fatima Muhammed

Videos of the lectures are available on the MSEN YouTube Chanel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiDaYbhgmJAbT1svuHubO-g

 

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