Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Prevent Does Not Protect out Students and "Others" Muslims Teachers'

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

'Prevent Does Not Protect out Students and "Others" Muslims Teachers'

Article excerpt

For this special issue, TES asked a broad selection of teachers to describe their experience of working under the duty. In this article, an RE teacher shares his story

As a Muslim teacher of Pakistani heritage born and raised in the UK, I knew that I would have to show and prove my ability as a teacher more than my non-Muslim colleagues, as well as my white British colleagues.

In my school, I was not the only Muslim Pakistani teacher - indeed, the majority of the student population came from the Muslim Pakistani community. Despite this, Muslim and/or Pakistani teachers were rarely, if at all, championed as potential role models, or valued as pioneers for the student community.

Also, having been employed as an RE teacher, I was frequently quizzed by other teachers in the department about my opinions on other religions. I responded by discussing curriculum content to demonstrate a breadth and depth of knowledge on my teaching subject.

I couldn't help but feel, however, that these questions were intended to be more probing than just a superfluous query about my subject knowledge.

And now, the introduction of Prevent has made the situation worse. It has given more credence to such queries and legitimised interrogations into Muslim teachers' suitability for the profession.

Viewed with suspicion

For almost all Muslim teachers, students and parents, this perceived threat of radicalisation has become a reason for Islam to often be demonised and the expression of "Islamic" belief and practice to be specifically viewed with suspicion.

As a Muslim teacher, Prevent is very tricky indeed. I actually understand Islam, both as a faith and life practice, and as a civilisation with a long history, with its own political, economic, social and cultural systems and forms.

But I daren't acknowledge a knowledge of this publicly, let alone confidently teach my predominantly Muslim students about the history of Islamic civilisation and its contribution to the world of human endeavours in science, philosophy, medicine, and so on, from which modern society generally - and western civilisation particularly - have benefited immensely. Why is this? Because I fear Prevent - and so do my students.

Islam is targeted

I share the frustrations of my students who see Islam being targeted when Muslims are still trying to negotiate and traverse structures and systems of class, education and business, and to find their place of expression from the fabric of this country - a fabric and a country that my parents' generation worked in the mills of Yorkshire to weave, and in the foundries of the steel industry, along with the factories of the machine industries, to build. …

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