Book Review: Project-Based Homeschooling Mentoring Self-directed Learners by Lori Pickert
The nondescript cover of the book almost made me skip from looking through it. However, I was searching for a new way to teach my tween and since she is more independent now, I was looking at her doing her own projects, that is how I ended up picking up this book despite its plain cover.
The book is alhamdulillah, surprisingly very informative and practical for me as a homeschooling mum and provides a good explanation of how project-based learning should really be like for both elementary and middle school children or even older teens. While your child may be assigned projects in schools, it is likely to receive a lot of direction from teachers and does not allow the child to choose something that comes out of his own interest.
"Real project work is work that is chosen by children and done by children with the help of attentive adults who are there to mentor, facilitate and support."
In the book, Pickert outlines what should be provided for the child to actually carry out project-based homeschooling, physically and spiritually. This comes in the form of providing the child the space and tools to carry out what he wants and allowing him the freedom to pursue his own interest without the adult pushing his ideas and opinions on the child while providing support and encouragement at the same time.
After providing the framework that parents can work with, Pickert includes practical suggestions on how to carry out the different stages of project-work, extending them and making them a part of your family culture. For example, when your child is doing field work; bring a clipboard to facilitate sketching and notetaking and have pre and post-visit discussions with your child to focus the visit and review if his goals for the visit were met.
I absolutely love how Pickert puts forward the need for the values in project-based homeschooling to be part of your own life as a parent and that of the family. For example, as adults, we should mirror putting in effort to sit down and work out a problem instead of, for example, getting frustrated and giving up. When it comes to the children, Pickert encourages parents to allow them to try to solve the problems themselves and for parents to point the children in the right directions instead of jumping in to solve the problem for their children. This is certainly a book I would recommend to all parents. It is always relevant in that it stresses on allowing the child to study something out of his own interest and working out the means to achieve his goals in a positive and encouraging environment. These are values very close to my own (although I still find them challenging) and I am always inspired by other mothers who have managed to put them into practice in real life.
Book Review: Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash
I was over the moon when I found this book at the library. "How apt!" I thought, just the thing I needed for my teenage boys in this confusing world where their identities are being put down due to their beliefs. However, after the first few chapters, I wanted to return the book to the library and forget about it. Not because it was poorly written, in fact, it was quite a novel idea of a father writing to his son letters about being Muslim in this post-modern world.
When I read about the author's experience growing up in the Middle East and England, I also felt that we came from different worlds and that this book is not relevant to us here. A case in point, the majority of Muslims here are of the same ethnicity and we are all Sunnis, as far as I knew, growing up. There were no questions then of belonging to different sects, having alternative interpretations of Islamic law (even among respected imams, what more interpreting laws yourself!) and even my non-Muslim schoolmates shared traditional values with me.
I wanted to forget about it because it made me feel uncomfortable.
I thought that maybe if I kept quiet about it and moved on, I would soon forget it; like many other things I wish I could sweep under the sofa. How uncanny that towards the end, the writer spoke about religious silence, where you don't question or speak of something because it is unheard of .
The reality is, however, incidents that reflect negatively on Muslims seem to now occur over regular periods of time that makes Islam and in turn, Muslims, look bad, no thanks to certain biased media. Despite the fact that there are more than a billion Muslims in the world, the media chooses to put us all together regardless of nationality and culture for the actions of a group of people we don't even know of. The reality is, we are more connected now than we have ever been that issues that were remote or taboo in the past, turns up on our front door. If I don't reach out to my sons and in future, my daughters, about the crisis Muslims are in now, someone else or the internet will.
I do not agree with some of the author's opinions, but who says you need to agree with everything an author says to read his book? Certain issues that he spoke about needs to be urgently addressed; such as the need for our young to have their own opinions so they won't be empty drums anyone can fill, the education of women and the need to stop being busy with waging a war of isms and taking responsibility for ourselves. To quote the author, "The only way we can raise the status of the Muslim world is by doing what all other peoples in the world do: educate ourselves, work hard, and find the answers to life's difficult questions." I would like to add, make dua.
I give this book a 3.5/5 rating and recommend it for teens 16 or older who have grounding in Islamic knowledge and someone qualified to ask questions about.