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Rita Verma

This book presents yet another compelling argument about the lives and struggles of new immigrant youth in public schools and demands the attention of educators, policy- makers and academics. In the post September 11th political, economic and social climate there are silenced and forgotten young immigrants in our schools. Racist nativism, Islamophobia and hegemonic discourse have in many ways legitimized the false information and emerging stereotypes that are disseminated by popular culture and the media. From the perspective of working class Sikh youth, who have unduly borne the brunt of such hostility and racial profiling, we learn about their daily lives both in their communities and schools. The youth engaged in identity politics and occupied contradictory hybrid spaces of being neither here nor there. Attempts to transplant religious identities led to personal battles of self definition and transformation. In contrast to the available literature on the Asian American “model minority”, Verma explores the working class experience of South Asian families who face downward economic mobility, limited opportunities, low academic achievement, racism and marginalization from both their communities and the mainstream public. Hidden under the umbrella of the model minority stereotype, the needs of working class South Asian youth are largely compromised as their engagement from school plummets. In the midst of shifting politics of belonging, citizenship and nation-building, the reader is drawn to listen to the personal stories, hopes and dreams of youth who face uncertain realities and doubts about the grandeur of the “American dream”.

Citizenship Education

The British Muslim Perspective

Nader Al-Refai and Christopher Adam Bagley

This important book draws together and integrates several strands in educational policy. It offers a perspective on the role of Britain’s increasing Muslim population, and the need for Citizenship Education for all school pupils which can allow young Muslims to integrate in ways which meet their legitimate needs for expression of religious values, and which fosters tolerance in both Muslim pupils and in their peers, as well as responsible participation in the wider democracy.
The book explains clearly the meaning of education and citizenship in Islam, and argues that the practice of Islam encourages its adherents both to tolerate other religions, and the societies in which Islamic minorities have settled. In this account, there is no logic, morality or theological support for violent acts against the state. However, increasing Islamophobia, misdirected against Muslim youth in Britain, has forced a reappraisal of identity. This combined with increasing dissatisfaction of Muslim parents on the failure of mainstream schools to tolerate the religious aspirations of their children, has led to the setting up of a number of Muslim schools in Britain.
Recent government actions to introduce Citizenship Education in all schools as a means of fostering tolerance and countering political apathy are evaluated in a study of five “best practice” Muslim schools, and five similar schools serving a wider religious population. Results show the general success of Citizenship Education in the Muslim schools studied, and support the argument that Islamic education can support Citizenship Education in socially productive ways.
While focussed on Britain, this book is an important comparative study of education, sociology and social policy, and deserves to be read by trainee teachers, undergraduates, and policy makers in the fields of education and social planning.