UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Muslim educators’ perspectives on human learning and development in a Sunni Muslim mosque school in Canada Alkouatli, Claire


This study addressed a gap in the literature regarding Muslim educators’ perspectives on learning and development, and the practices they utilize and create with their students. Participant observation and active interviewing at a Sunni Muslim mosque school in Canada were the methods used to examine four educators’ perspectives on learning and development and how those perspectives were enacted in social practices. Sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1987, 1994) framed the study, defining learning and development as socially, culturally, and historically situated and mediated by social practices. Observations and interviews were analyzed using reflexive, ongoing thematic analysis that aimed to balance the analysis between the etic perspective provided by theory and the emic perspective of the researcher as a practicing Muslim. Three main themes were identified. First, for these educators, learning and development was interwoven with the Islamic system of principles and practices and contained unique developmental goals. Second, these educators used distinct Islamic social practices to mediate the Islamic system. Third, the pedagogies educators used in the classrooms, as integral components of the social practices, included some that were intrinsic to the Islamic social practices, some that the educators developed themselves, and some that emerged from the secular cultural context. The ways in which the educators used pedagogies to mediate the Islamic system had the potential to facilitate learning and development. Further research is required to examine how these pedagogies serve to expand and/or constrain learning and the cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual development of Muslim children. Limitations of this study included a small sample size, researcher biases against less-creative pedagogical approaches, like close-ended questioning, and partiality toward Islamic practices. As the learning and development of Muslim children is linked to the Islamic system of principles and practices, attention needs to be paid to enhancing developmental potential within this system, enriching intrinsic pedagogies and incorporating and Islamizing select extrinsic pedagogies. As mediators of both the Islamic system and secular cultural contexts, educators have the potential to enhance children’s development as Muslims, as agentic members of multiple cultural contexts, and as active participants in the re-interpretation of Islamic principles for the current age.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada