Monday, 10 November 2014

Dr M. Kabir az-Zubair's View

Firstly, I'm not an RE teacher. My interest in participating in this discourse is driven mainly by my concern, on one hand, as a parent, and an educationist with interests in religious and moral education of children in British schools, on the other.

I made the argument that, replacing the standard RE curriculum with, or in combination, philosophy is a good thing; given the wider scope of philosophical ideas and concepts. However, I added a caveat, that the philosophical materials to be used in this regard must recognise some key issues: the diversity of our society, with attendant differences in moral and ethical norms; the need to educate our children to understand the complexity of the society of which they are part, but most importantly, imbibing them with sufficiently broad moral framework with which to engage the interdependent world they live in. 

The world is faced with rising violence, some of which are based on misunderstanding of religion, or promoted by historical religious grievances, or ethnic/faith identity conflicts and so on. It's necessary, therefore, that the philosophy is a combination of the Western and Eastern variety, including Islamic philosophy. This will actually attenuate the virulence of the hate mongers and radical religious preachers brainwashing the youths with a death wish. A balanced philosophy training will enable the children maintain a dignified differences of views where the prevailing norm does not agree with their respective faiths. A better understanding of where each group, believing and non-believing alike, is coming from will go far in promoting tolerance and mutual respect. Naturally, each component should be taught by those competent within the faith, as opposed to having someone with an entirely different worldview teaching materials which s/he doesn't fully understand.

Dr M. Kabir az-Zubair

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