^This has actually happened lol
Some of you know that I started teaching weekend Islamic school again this year. It’s been amazingly comical, frustrating, heartbreaking and humbling. First I ended up teaching at two different Mosques!! Yeah, I can’t even figure out how this happened lol but since I gave both my word I couldn’t back out!
One school is very very new, in an inner city neighborhood run by brothers (it’s a bit chaotic though because no one’s in charge). The girls are completely separate from the boy’s school. We’re basically just on our own. There’s no printer, no photocopier, no books, broken whiteboards, not enough teachers or resources, the classrooms are pretty small themselves. We can’t leave anything in the rooms because somehow ppl get in during the week and make a mess or plain just take stuff and the men use the rooms for Jumah. There’s construction going on all over. The heat is OFF most of the time. Sometimes I tell the girls to keep their jackets on and when you ask the brother’s side to turn it on no one knows how to/where the key is. Every time I go into the classroom I find weird things, paint chips, wood, old doors, old sinks, huge bags of old clothes all spread out?! Seriously!
And I honestly don’t understand how they expect the school to function without books. They bought a wonderful series called “I love Islam’, however there’s only 1 textbook per teacher. We’re supposed to read from that and the kids are somehow supposed to learn everything we say. This is also the Mosque where we have teachers meetings that are separated in DIFFERENT rooms WITH a curtain. Yeah dudes. Frustrating.
The other Mosque is very well established and has a lot of resources, the trump card being an extremely experienced principal. The school may be stricter and conservative in what they want taught, but they are more willing and open to do anything it takes to teach the kids. But my biggest problem here is the parents. They sometimes bring their kids, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the kids do their homework and sometimes they don’t. Many don’t even bring basic things like a pencil, notebook, their books, etc. And If I hear “Teacher, I left my homework in the car” one more time I may have to call a parent up and tell them to turn around! It just seems so odd to me that some parents believe Islamic school is optional and bring their kids only whenever they feel like.
This brings us to the philosophical question, are kids better off in Muslim countries? Are critics of western Muslims right to think that people come over here and just start thinking about making money and forget about keeping their kids Muslim? I think it’s more that some parents think only culturally, that as long as their child knows how to pray, say a few surahs and has read the Quran once (Ameen parties!) their duty is done.
There are definitely a lot of frustrations but I do love teaching. (part time! lol) The most important thing to me is that these kids develop a love of Islam, and see it as a beautiful, fun thing, instead of ritualistic. Sometimes there are just moments that make it all worth it like when the boys compete with each other begging to show me they know how to pray 2 rakats. Or that they’re so excited to show me that they did their homework. I love that they’re in school mode when they come, ready to learn (most of the time), even as a parent you’ll never be able to have 20 eager faces looking up to you just waiting for you to teach them something about Islam. And then after a few hours you can send them home and relax & recover the rest of the week!!
Sometimes just the questions they ask are amazing, about Jannah, about the Day of Judgment, about praying, about their pets!! One girl, whose mother passed away, asked me that if she makes Dua would Allah choose a good mother for her. <heart breaks> Or one boy who told me defiantly that he would go hide and pray downstairs if his parents wouldn’t let him pray! Lol Or when the girls come early, walking to the masjid from their homes, and ask me “if we’re going to do something fun today”. Or when someone’s mother comes to you ten years later and says ‘oh my son said you were the best islam teacher he ever had!’ and now he’s going to college –scary But priceless. Absolutely priceless.
Update: Alhamdulillah since I wrote the above things have really improved tenfold. Alhamdulillah!!! now on to teaching… I started a thread on our forum with different resources for islamic school teachers so check it out!: http://jannah.org/madina/index.php?topic=5963.0