Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Way to Turn Kids Off Learning 

| 3 Comments

Reading Time: 2 minutes

So my kid is walking evidence of the importance of affect in learning. She’ll learn better if she likes the teacher. I’ve always been strongly like that, too. But there’s more.

Two incidents this past week. The second is more extreme so I’ll start with it. Remember she’s 6.

The religion curriculum has in it parts related to learning verses from the Quran (which she is mostly comfortable with) and parts that are other stuff.

Among the other stuff, for some odd reason, one of the first things they teach kids about prophet Muhammad is

  • His dad died before he was born
  • His mom died when he was 6 (note: my child is 6. You see where this is going?) after which he went to live with his granddad
  • His grandfather died when he was 8, after which he went to live with his uncle (who thankfully lived a long time) 
  • …and one or two more tidbits about how he grew up to be known for his honesty and trustworthiness in Mecca

Why on earth would you create an entire lesson where 90% of the info relates to death of loved ones? My kid is already obsessed with death even though no one close to her has died yet (thankfully) and it freaks me out. But this lesson?  I mean…WHY WHY WHY? 

When trying to do homework about this, she seemed not to remember any information from class, to solve the questions – and as I started to explain it, my heart sank. I could feel her shrinking away from me as she heard about death after death after death. So I just closed the book and left a note to the teacher.

The earlier incident related to her Arabic homework. The exercise was a jumbled up sentence she needed to put in order. The ordered sentence would have been “the bird is in the cage”. When she realized that, she got really distressed and said “why? Why would they put the bird in a cage? That’s like jail! Why would they do that?”. And that was the end of that. Could not convince her to do any more of that homework that day. We moved on to maths instead which she did ok.

Who makes these weird curriculum choices and how could they be so insensitive? 

3 Comments

  1. Don’t get me started.

  2. #speechless*
    And a little one from my past: One of my A’level literature exam questions required us to do a literary appreciation of a letter Walter Raleigh wrote to his beloved whilst awaiting execution in the Tower of London!

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