All Things in Moderation

In the waning days of his premiership, Tony Blair has decided that there aren’t enough moderate Muslims out there. He’s decided to help make more.

British universities are getting a small cash injection to help train moderate, British-born imams. Blair believes mosques are too reliant on foreign imams who may not understand British society or speak good English. They are partly to blame for the radicalisation of some British Muslims.

It’s not that there aren’t already university courses (degree programs) in Islamic Studies. Rather the problem appears to be that the courses only teach certain views of Islamic theology and focus particularly on the Middle East. Thus students on these courses who are energized by what they learn tend to violent radicalism. The money spent would broaden the content of these courses. With more exposure to less militant views, it is hoped that students will be influenced by them.

I think it is a bit of a long shot.

Hands Down

Reading the Mail on Sunday while traversing the English Channel yesterday, I was lead to believe that Education Secretary Alan Johnson said I shouldn’t have students raise their hands to answer questions any more. I looked at the DfES website tonight and – whew! – what a relief – it appears this only applies to primary schools. It appears that the omniscient apparatchiks who feed Johnson the wisdom he’s supposed to share with us still find it okay have pupils raise their hands once they reach age 11.

However, before they arrive at big school, letting children raise their hand and give an answer to a question is damaging. Not so much to the hand-raiser, but to the “invisible children”. This does not refer to a belief in some sort of incorporeal presence of multiple learners – though there are loonies at DfES who might believe in such things – but rather to those who are not as eager to participate in the didactic process.

What the DfESians must not realise that a classroom teacher knows best what works for their groups. Most teachers do spend some of class discussion time calling on those who are less willing to volunteer. However, they shouldn’t take away from those who are more actively involved in the lesson. Otherwise you will just end up with lowest common denominator lessons. But I suppose that is the point of socialism: if you can’t pull everyone up, then drag everyone down. Equality is all that matters.

But it gets worse.

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