Mohammad Aburumman

The War of Curriculums .. Highlights (1)

تم نشره في Wed 17 February / Feb 2016. 10:04 PM

The third issue, I had mentioned in my article yesterday (on the topic of the education and school curriculums), entails that the real dilemma of educational curriculums in Jordan lies in the weakness of critical, realistic and logical reasoning among students.

Claims of the sort are not new, but now require more serious considerations with much deeper conceptualisation, to compare our educational systems with what the world has achieved in their multitude of educational disciplines. Education worldwide evokes more investigative and relational approaches in students, builds independence, cognitive abilities, decision making and group work skills; issues I am personally facing with my own children!

ISIS-like mind-sets do not only reside in ancient books of religious heritage, but grows nourish in the uncritical cognitions of the minds that accept givens without investigation or verification. You see, in the absence of critical thinking, when sentiment takes over the mind, and emotion overtakes reason —even in some of the material taught in schools, the suitable components for extremism assemble.

And perhaps one of the most crucial epidemics of our societies, one that is responsible for the ease of “brainwashing” of our youth, is what is called the “fabricated ideal”. We have them cling on to a perfect ideal past that exists only in their imagination —contrary to truth, leading to the construction of unrealistic and incorrect anticipated models of reality.

Knowing that some will object to that brief statement; it does not mean a generalisation or passage of judgement or evaluation inclusive of the historic Islamic literature and expertise, nor does it mean a ready conclusion of its totality in positive or negative. It simply means that there is a necessity arising to review our history with more realistic, reasonable, objective approaches and instruments, dispatched from the sentiment that has been involved in the production of knowledge (epistemological production) around the Arab World.

This summons another concrete concern —in my opinion; about culture. Our culture has reflected on school material in more ways than one. Most importantly, the shrinking of realistic philosophies in educational disciplines! Students are drowned in poetry and mostly ancient Arabic literature, which isn’t really bad in terms of knowledge —to an extent. But beyond a certain point, it becomes a negative aspect of our curriculum. Especially when there is a general lacking of realistic instrumentality in regards to training students to think critically about different epistemological and scientific discourses, and while there abilities to do so are not being built.

One of Mohammed Jaber Al-Ansari’s most beautiful phrases, I think, possibly would be: If I were an Arab official, I would mandate teaching Ibn Khaldoun’s Introduction to Sociology in all schools, because it summons critical tendencies among students.

Accordingly, students go by their books on history, geography, and national education, studying various topics including civilisations and the history of the Nabataeans (for example), without there ever being an attempt to interpolate the lot of dry cumulative information in history books of the seven grade, for instance, with research, documentaries, or efforts to explore these civilisations.

While in international discourses of education, and in early stages, students are introduced to the world’s cultures, religions, geography, and politics, constituting a relatively more realistic comparative approach to topics they digest over other stages.

It isn’t very different when it comes to Maths and other sciences (physics, biology, geology). For even though these discourses discuss practical and experimental aspects of the sciences, teaching these class books is far from it.

I still remember once asking my maths teacher in high school about the benefits of me studying logarithms; he had laughed as other students found it strange. Only a few years ago did I figure out how to calculate logarithms and the benefits of doing so, and they were actual and physical. Compared to —and I apologise again for making the comparison, students of international schools and education systems; they were given a comprehensive picture of their material and of its practical and realistic use.

 There are tens of marvellous documentaries about physics, maths, and chemistry. So there is no need to insist on the standing methods and material of education that isolate these sciences from their realistic scopes.