Issues in Weekend Schooling
There are a number of important issues when addressing the topic of
weekend schools. They will each be listed and commented on in no particular order.
Other elements will be added to this list as they are studied.
|Does your Weekend School have specific objectives? I have seen some
programs in which it seemed that there were no definite objectives for behavior or
education. Indeed, merely "trapping" a group of children on a beautiful
Saturday or Sunday morning, in which they would rather be sleeping, and herding them from class to
class aimlessly serves little purpose. Clear objectives must be decided upon and
worked towards. |
A Statement of
1) We want the children to be believing and practicing Muslims.
2) We want them to believe in Allah in their hearts and recognize that He is
3) We want the children to be aware of their duty to Allah and to be motivated to
4) We want the children to have knowledge of the teaching and practices of Islam.
5) The children must know why Islam is a better way of life than everything they
see around them.
6) We want the children to develop character, better manners and a respectful
7) We want the children to be able to relate Islamic beliefs and teachings to
non-Muslims in a coherent and compelling way.
|Does your Weekend School have adequate learning materials? I have seen
Weekend schools with such a haphazard hodge-podge of books and other items as to make no sense at
all either in grade-appropriate material or sequential learning. Many
teach the same subjects year after year, no matter what age level the students are.
The children grow bored of learning only about the seven beliefs and five pillars.
Learning materials selected are often boring, devoid of creativity and dry. |
children start believing Islam is boring, then you will lose them to pro-wrestling,
the latest pop singer and the
kufr lifestyle in a heart-beat. Books chosen and topics
taught per grade must be varied, meaningful and sequential. See the Syllabi section
|How do we get people motivated, specifically, our
"volunteers"? Some seem to be more dead weight on the school
than a help! I have worked in a Weekend School myself and have
numerous friends involved in such activities and can assert that the single
biggest complaint, after disorganization and 'bad' kids is the lack of truly
committed volunteer teachers. How do we rectify this situation?|
Dealing with this specific issue, that of getting
sincere and committed volunteer teachers in the Weekend school, opens up
another issue that must be dealt with first. If you have a well-thought
out program, then it should be easy for people to fall into line and do as
they need to do. If the administration of the school is lackluster or
disorganized, then that is what will be imitated by most of the staff.
It may sound strange, we may protest that a committed Muslim will rise to the
challenge no matter what difficulties are around, but such sentiments don't
take into account that we are only human. Few of us are super-e-man types.
In the military, it is well-known that a competent and
motivated commander can motivate his men. In the business world, an
effective manager employing a well-thought out plan can motivate his or her
workers to achieve new heights of success, etc... So why should we think
the weekend school will just be successful by itself, simply because everyone
is "doing it for Allah"?
Without a well-defined program and sincere dedication
from the top, the program will continue to be lop-sided. Here are some
suggestions to bring the program, and the volunteers into greater efficiency:
|Put the entire plan for the Weekend school on paper. Your plan
should be at least 20 pages long with all variables covered from
procedures, syllabi and curriculum to timings, volunteers and even
|The administrators of the Weekend school must be the most competent
people in the community, even if they are not doctors, the Imam or wealthy
businessmen. If a twenty year old college student is the most
efficient, put him or her in charge, for Allah's sake!|
|Everyone in the Weekend school should be paid at least $50 a day.
Volunteers are great but paid people have a greater sense of
|Never, never, never hire only teachers of your same ethnic group.|
|Do not hire people who know nothing about Islam. Too many weekend
schools hire the "have nothing better to do" set. Just
because the person has a Muslim name, was born in a Muslim country, and is
well-known in the community doesn't mean he or she knows a whit about
|Require your teachers to pass an oral and written exam before being
allowed to teach.|
|Explain to the teachers in writing and in a meeting what is expected of
them as far as timing, example, dress and instruction is concerned.|
|Have several teacher seminars in the summer to prepare the
teachers. Give them the books they will be teaching, explain in
writing the objectives of each class. Show them how to teach if
necessary. Bring in experienced Muslim teachers to give this
training. Do all of this at least a month before your school opens.|
|Have more teachers hired than what you think you will need. If you
think you need only six teachers, hire seven. This is because you
will always have at least one teacher absent. |
|Don't be afraid to hire college aged Muslims for teachers in the lower
|Realize that few of the students will know anything about Islam, let
alone practice it. Don't get frustrated over what is not your
fault. Explain to the teachers that they must have great Sabr and
that their job is almost like a da'i. They will literally have to
"convert" most of their students to Islam.|
More to come...