Friday, October 19, 2012

Educational Transformation Holistically


Holistic Leisure Learning (HLL) – a needed methodology and practice for the 21st Century
Mogamat Faadiel Arnold(PTD;B.A; Ph.D:HC)


This chapter explores the integrative and holistic value The Qur'an offers researchers in finding solutions to inherent philosophical, structural and leadership problems in education. It explores a new didactic pedagogy through the Holistic Leisure Learning (HLL) Methodology,  which brings the love for God, through the appreciation of His Creations, as the focal point of the learning practice. HLL sees the child as the central “Knowledgeable” (Fitrah) of the learning experience, who needs stimulating guidance and a self-motivating discipline to discover the unity of knowledge and practice, through 7 Qur'an-inspired learning activity areas: Nature, People, Languages, Trade, Calculations, Construction, Micro-& Telescopic. HLL focuses on training learners' reflective powers (Tafakkur) (Q30:21) to arrive at a hidden appreciation of the holistic value of everything in and around them. The chapter challenges conventional school period structures/timetables, seeing it as the core drawback, which disturbs the flow of learning and teaching, as well as hampering the achievement levels of learners. HLL, as a Qur'an-based  methodology, invites all Monotheistic faiths to join efforts in finding commonalities that make children of different cultures feel safe, intellectually stimulated and informed to tackle the world on a daily basis – with an open mind to help wherever possible with whatever is available. ICRA Comprehensive School, established in July 2009, aims at providing quality, learning experiences through HLL for children, teachers, managers and parents in an affordable way. Its resources are self-teaching, integrative and economically designed – to counteract the notion that quality education needs financial muscle. HLL trains the learner's mind to research, question, integrate and create lasting memories for life-long learning. This possibility rests in the awareness of the multiplicity in unity and unity in multiplicity – a concept clearly driven by The Holy Qur'an. The chapter purports that the 21st century should make children co-managers of their learning.

Islamic Principal Sources as A Guide for Educational Transformation

Muslims present The Qur’an as the religious text for all mankind and the Prophet Mughammad (Pbuh) as the human perfection of The Qur’an. It is in this light that I decided to use the Qur’an and The Ahadeeth ( sayings of the Prophet Pbuh) to structure a new paradigm for education. The integrated, holistic value of the Holy Qur’an presents a core framework to unite the  numerous disciplines of education into an integrated whole. The aim of this  endeavour would be to motivate the role-players in education to appreciate the holistic value of each subject or discipline in the educational arena, which in turn will translate in progress for all in the country.

Changing the Western Educational paradigm needs an understanding of its structures and purpose. When majoring in Arabic, I chose to major in Economics simultaneously, because I believed that a solid Islamic guidance can only happen with a good understanding of the economic dynamics of the Western World. The integrated, holistic meaning patterns of Arabic words in the Qur’an and AGhaadeeth, led me to focus on the semantics inherent in the words used in Western Educational infrastructure.
The common western educational terms: manage, policy, system, procedure, discipline, monitor, authority, delegate, director-general, drill, govern, prescriptions, obedience, mission, demarcate, base-line are military terms. The British military terms and practices had infiltrated into “schooling”. It became clear to me that children felt the pressures at state schools and retaliated through crime, drugs and various forms of disengagements with school education. This immediately disqualifies any attempt to Islamize the Western Educational system. A new paradigm is needed,

Islamic sources relating to acquiring learning encapsulate terms like Ra’in (Carers), transmitters (Qaa-sim), correlate relationship (Qaa-sa) Negotiate experience (Gub-ran), Ease, facilitate (Yas-sir), liberation support, (‘A-wa-na). ‘A-wa-na places a new dimension to school management style. When looking at the Islamic Faith principles and ethics the following juxtaposed comparison surfaced between Ta’aa-wun and conventional western management systems

Management Presupposes
Ta'aawun (Liberation-support) presupposes
Service assistance
Social benevolence
Mutual upliftment
Position via externals (degree/elections
Position from sworn allegiance out of trust
Meetings crucial
Product/service development crucial
Many theories/ policies
Many practices little theory/policy
Profit motivated
Liberation motivated for peace of mind to worship and praise God
Loyalty synonymous with productivity and remuneration
Loyalty synonymous with love, care, support, trust and upliftment of all
High expectation of others
High expectations of the self

(Adapted and improved on; Arnold 2001, 70)

From the above one can deduce that Western Management Styles in schools can, and often lead to manipulation of learners and teachers. It seems that “management” may be a real cause of conscious/ unconscious disruptive behaviour or disengagement of strong willed learners and teachers. A reduction of personal value could be a result of a western management that pegs itself on the above characteristics.

Ta’aawun presents the value of all participants in a learning culture and presents the leader as a servant of the people he/she serves. It encourages interactive co-operation of everyone with the aim of freeing one another from restrictive factors that enslave individuals and society. It is through Ta’aa-wun that society can reach the characteristics of BIRR (honesty, piety, kindness) and TAQ-WA (God consciouness)

The Islamic learning culture, referenced from Qur'an, is based in the Omnipresence and Power of Allah, The One and Only God, Who Guides through One Book, The Qur'an, accepts that God is the only Educator and Giver/Granter of Knowledge (ILM), Wisdom(GHIKMA), Guidance(HIDAAYAH) and Intelligence ('AQL) (Q2:269; Q96:1; Q20:114). This  moves thought away from “education” towards trusting in God for personal learning. The Prophet Mughammad (Pbuh) set the stage for believers in God, to a “servant’s” position in the learning culture through his words “Allah is the Giver(Yu'ti) and I am the transmitter (Qaasim) . The duty of all Muslims is to impart their granted knowledge and insight to others in a manner that will also allow others to be open to the distinguished awareness of the magnificence of life and the universe ('ILM). It is for this reason I prefer the term “learning” to “education”, because within Islam learning is a continuous process until death. “Educate/ educated” tends to encourage a sense of human authority over others and “completeness of knowledge”, which can, and has lead to oppression, manipulation and arrogance – negative energies that are probably the cause of the failure of non-faith-based educational and economic systems and infrastructures.

This raises the question : What should learners be exposed to, to arrive at the distinguished awareness of the magnificence of creation, human potential and gratefulness to God. The following integrated table based on core Qur’anic Ayaat (Signs/Symbols) reveals a holistic integration of various disciplines into a motivating whole:

HLL: Necessary Integrated Knowledge Exposures (NIKE) (Arnold 2001, p146)
Endangered species and Resources
Observation & Research
Raw Material Supply
Cultures, Beliefs, Rites, Arts
Humans & Family
Business sense
Mutual Respect, Tolerance and benefit
Literature, Film, Song Theatre
Symbolism in the arts
International diplomacy
Free enterprise
Movement of goods & services
Correct answers/predictions
Ease, Comfort
Safety & purpose
Chemical equations
Energy transfers
Research, thought analysis
Environmental awareness
Teamwork, self-reliance, cultural sensitivity
Learn how to learn, data analysis and predictions
Well organised
Holistic  reflection, and new discoveries

At any point of this matrix above, the focus of the various subjects can be identified.
The 7 activity areas; Nature(Q57:1-4), People(Q49:13), Languages(Q30:22), Trade(Q4:29), Calculations(Q54:49), Construction(Q16:81) and Micro- & Telescopic(Q13:2-4), forms the basis for Holistic Leisure Learning(HLL). HLL reflects on the Arabic word HAL-LA (to begin, to appear, to rejoice, to say the words: There is No god except Allah”). HLL also reflects on the Unity of God and the Qur’anic  information that Allah SWT wishes us ease not difficulty (Q2:185).

Educational infrastructures often create enormous difficulty, because it often focuses on monitoring and policing the educational process. It therefore dissects whole knowledge concepts into fragments and also straight-jackets teachers to curricula, which is often reactionary to the social and economic atmosphere. This causes constant restructuring of curricula which impacts on quality education. HLL presents a lasting curriculum, based on the central features of the automatically integrative 7 activity areas. The 7 activity areas connect in that People are part of Nature, Languages are part of people, Trade is the Languages of Economics, Calculations are necessary for Trade, Construction is a result of calculations and everything on the Earth and in the Universe are mathematically constructed.

Core Needs to Implement HLL

1. A Breakaway from rigid School Period Timetables that do not have a natural holistic flow, but are often randomly structured to accommodate availability of teachers and subject hour requirements as set by the departments of education. The period structures rarely, if not at all, consider the readiness and interest of the learners.
2. One integrated textbook that connects the basics of all subjects through HLL
3. Multi-skilled teachers and principals that have a basic integrative knowledge of all subjects
4. Self-teaching Resources with which children can interact and learn. Often textbooks are written within a language that children do not understand.
5. Preparedness of school officials consider the needs and  advice of children
6. New didactic pedagogical principles
7. A new focus of schools away from curriculum delivery to learning motivation and integration.

When looking at the Qur’anic Guidelines, we can offer our children a Holistic learning experience. The following marvel/sign (AA-YAH) of the Qur'an capture the holistic value of all features of life, knowledge, learning, faith, motivation, research and practice:

and He has made to serve you, what is in the heavens and earth, all of it, from Him(as a Gift), verily/surely in that are signs/marvels for a people who stand firm on the need to reflect (Q45:13)

The above Ayah creates a basis for the new HLL didactic pedagogical principles as opposed to the current acceptable didactics:
Old Didactic ,,Pedagogical Principles
HLL Didactic, Pedagogical Principles
Closed Triangular connection between Educant, Educator and Subject Matter – the parents, community and business are not part of the didactic principles. There is also no clear goal in the learning process that benefits the learner, school, teacher, parent and community, but a clear assessment criteria the department of education expects teachers to achieve in a given time-frame
The Love for God is the focal point of all learning endeavours.  The examples of the prophets (AS) are the guiding lights to this Path/Journey. The Qur'an is the Principal Textbook. The Child's duty is to achieve this love through knowing and interacting with a holistic environment adults create for them (state, facilitators, business, community, parents)-pentapod-didactic-base (Holistic Leisure Learning:Knol). These adults would have already accepted themselves as unselfish adorers and hence workers of God who readily serves their children as a form of worship IBAADAH.

(Adapted from the diagram “New Pedagogical Principles” Arnold 2001 p121)

The Appreciation of the above can possibly be extracted from the following comparisons in the practice of conventional schooling and HLL:
Focal issues
Relaxed, Reflective
Grade, Subject specific Term theory Exams
Grade, Subject, Term Exam (practical and theory)
Combining 3 Grades, and levels of difficulty in the Integrated Exams, allowing learners to transcend their grade requirements, with an inbuilt intervention opportunity. Experimentation and Holistic Project for all learners – identifying the 7 HLL activities in each project.
Effect on individuals
Fearful, subjected individual
Free spirited, self-centred, irresponsible, competitive individual
Unselfish, constructive, holistically aware spiritual, communal  individual ready to help others
Teacher driven
Outcome  Driven
Qur'an/ Spiritually driven
Desired Result
Accept Subjugation
Critical, non-conformist
Holistic, Creative, Motivated change agent
Internal self
Dependent on mass votes
Trust in God, fearless Q2:38

(Adapted and upgraded from Arnold 2001:16-19)
Classroom /Centre Practice
Existent State-schools
Period structured
Single grades
2/3 grades work together
Teacher-centred and driven
Learner-centred and driven
Passive Child
Active child
Teacher takes responsibility for learning of children
Learner takes responsibility for own progress with invention of teacher where needed – individually/ group needs
Lessons prepared on a daily basis. Learners have no power over delivery
Research Questions and resources for answers are supplied for the whole year. Each learner has the examples plus boardwork answers available for all Subjects for 4 years in advance. Learners have access to One Holistic Integrated Text (gr 4-10) available on internet & accessible from their cell-phones
Different Teachers set different exam papers and memo's
Learners are trained, from the Resource File, Exam Guideline and Maths Appreciation Text, how to set exams and draw up memo's, how to mark and assess progress on a daily basis. Teacher draws from their exposed exams, tests, resources and interventions the final quarter exams. Phase teachers set increasing leveled exams. Learners are encouraged to go beyond their grades for bonus points
Parents have no access to term's needed knowledge the child has to complete. Only teacher has access to it.
The Exam Guide indicates to learners and parents what will be tested very term
Class-based, teacher-centred education limits learning scope
Holistic Integrated Text, Exam Guide, Maths Appreciation learner guides and internet access allows for a broader scope in daily learning experiences, holistic integrated projects turns classes into resource centres – teacher being the principal researchers and consultants of the learners' learning process.
Often frustrated, de-motivated learners with decreasing academic ability. Even the bright learners are affected because they are restricted from progressing
Self-motivated, self-evaluative learners that increase their academic and behavioural performance. Bright learners continue to soar in academic progress and perform beyond their grade level. The presence of younger learner while older learners receive focused tuition allows them to understand and even tackle 3-4 grade above their grade level. This is often an encouragement to non-performing senior students when younger ones understand and cope with their grade work. Under no circumstances will a learner be examed beyond his/her grade level, but his/her presence is enough to create the necessary motivation.

The focus on quality service and resource richness is based on the reality that God Granted us all the needed resources to sustain and progress ourselves and made the universe to serve us if we serve Him and His creations sincerely . HLL is a considerate, practical learning paradigm that gives body to Q45:13 above.

HLL is also a practical, structural and philosophical attempt to move ‘education” away from stifling bureaucracy and prescription towards care . Large euro-centric unemployment,  the crash of capitalistic banking and the unrest all over the world puts to question the educational culture of the western world. The Qur’an reminds mankind of the results of their folly:

Whatever hardship people suffer on land and sea has been created by their own hands, but the suffering is a mercy from God that they may return to His Advice, remembrance, praise and thankfulness  (Q30:41)

The Qur’an’s timelessness, as a Guide for a new learning culture, can seen in what Sidney Herman and Klaus Schwab stated in The 2011 News Week Special Edition. Their statement strengthens the resolve for us change what we have been doing and reflect on the Qur’anic Wisdom:

As the world enters 2011, we are adapting to the new reality of post-crisis era. At its root, the crisis was a symptom of a broader dysfunction in our global political, econmic and social order. We are now paying and continue to pay for the sins of the past”

At the core of political, economic and social problems is the educational paradigm that feeds the children of the future. If an educational fraternity teaches and drives children towards individualism and capitalistic, interest-related exploitation, then societies have planned their downfall.

What is Available from HLL

It has become essential to create a learning philosophy and practice that encourages MA’RUUF (Universally Accepted Good which benefits all). HLL poises itself to serve all and thus made its Holistic Integrated Text (HIT) for HLL available on Bo-Kaap;Helper Blogspot. This allows any person to download the text and find the core examinable knowledge on all subjects in a single 41 page book. It is not only aimed at learners but also at single subject teachers who want to inform themselves on the integrationed value of all subjects and to empower parents to help their children. I am now busy with the FET(Further Education and Training) HIT which will integrated all the senior subject choices of ICRA Comprehensive School(ICS)( the first South African state registered Holistic Integrated Qur’an-based school). The Western Cape Education Department’s Cape Teacher and Leadership Institute regularly invites me to deliver workshops and training to teachers, principals and advisers on HLL and its impact on learner achievements.

HLL is dynamic. It listen to learners opinions and suggestions and implements strategies to ensure that they enjoy learning. Motivational learning is a core aspect of HLL’s presentations. Lessons are presented on the highest grade level, with the simplest of language then tested on each grade level. It is often experienced that learners of a lower grade understands and employ the learnt skill more accurately than the higher grade learners. Integrating grades 1-3, 4 & 5 and 6 - 12, accelerates learning and gives higher grade learners an opportunity to brush-up on basics. These opportunities are not possible in single grade schools. Peer group classes reduces respectful integration of different ages which happens in Multi-grade classes. Peer group classes stimulate “territorialism” (an animal instinct), which in-turn could possibly be the beginning of gangsterism and selfishness - considering that educators have knowledge of  fights between different grade groups and grades and experience a constant battle for “my seat”.  ICS encourages movement, non-territorialism and free access between grades so that learning can takes place beyond barriers.

HLL aims at creating an appreciative, integrative and divine experience for learners so that their future specialist studies reflect the qualitative holistic effect in society. This was a common feature of classical Islamic scholars. One scholar would be proficient in Arabic, Ghafith (complete memorisation), science and maths. HLL wishes to recapture the glory of old scholarship that benefit all.

Why HLL and not "Islamisation of Education" is clear from the extracts below:

‘what purpose is served by breathing Islamic spirit into disciplines that are shaped by other people’s perceptions, concepts, ideologies, languages and paradigms? Does that constitute Islamization of knowledge or the westernization of Islam? ...
it is also not possible to accept the disciplinary divisions of knowledge as they exist in western epistemology(Sardar 1988)

Helen May (1986), National Organiser of Early Childhood Education for Bophuthatswana stated
“ Children from third world families are socially, emotionally and physically extremely well co-ordinated...then something dreadful happens when the formal system takes over and subjects are broken up into pieces. Third world children are whole-brained, their culture is whole-brained. So when the Western System, which has forgotten what learning is about cannot teach them, they, in a sense, fail”(May 1986). A system that does not trust the unconscious (Piaget 1972: Hall: Conversation with Jean Piaget and barkel Inholder Psychology Today 1972:174),??? This is very confusing – what is the author saying?ignoring the intuitive half of the brain (Ornstein 1977: Samples, RE Learning with the whole brain, psychology for Our times pp 123,125)

HLL  leads to a sincere look at what children need and are interested in
Learning exposure development is dependent on acute understanding of children. Gleaned from psychological knowledge , practical experience, fatherhood and Qur'anic deeper Wisdom expressed in Sufism, the following table relating to the needs of children at various ages serves to guide schools:

Gr 1-3
Gr 7-9
Gr 10-12
Sub A-Std 1
Std 2-4
Std 5-7
Std 8-10
Self -beginning
Imaginal Self
Wordly Self
Social Self
Spiritual World
Possible Worlds
Outer Worlds
Social Worlds
Inner Worlds
Reflect & Create
Limited Motor, Active spirit
Complete Motor. Latent Spirit
Complete Physical, Expressive spirit
Physical Peak, Contemplative Spirit
Mind, emotional movement
Physical Movement
Emotional & physical movement
Intellectual & Spiritual movement
Visions of Skills
Acquire skills
Test Skills
Creative and Contemplative Skills
Stories, Role Play, Models, Fantasies, Play, Imagination
Explore Peoples, Nature, Places
Problem solving techniques for physical, social, emotional crisis
Emotional and spiritual problem solving

(Arnold 2001, p157)

Finally One has to compare HLL with what basically still exists in the Educational Arena
Euro-centric Education
Qur'an-Based HLL
Subject orientation (breaking the whole of knowledge)
Holistic integration of all sciences and humanities
Rigid -little choice
Choice integral, flexible
Consultative, Supportive
Freedom with appropriate Guidance
Ruled-based, theoretical
Life skills-based, practical
Left-lobe centred (analytical, ignoring artistic/intuitive right lobe)
Whole-brained and total body learning
Linear thinking
Holistic thinking
Narrow mindedness, needy
Broad minded, appreciative
Critical thinking
Reflective thinking
Destructive energy build-up
Progressive energy build-up
Prescribed Content-centred
Demarcate boundaries
Removes boundaries

(adapted and updated from Arnold 2001 p.27)

HLL as Ma’ruf (Universally Accepted Good)

There is always a need  for Muslims to fulfil the expectations of The Qur’an - as the best of nations who establish universally accepted good and who stand firm against evil (Q3:110). After the fall of the Islamic Golden era, Muslims have frantically tried to regain supremacy. Imitating the conqueror’s every mode of governance including their Educational system. There exists a belief in the conquered to imitate the conqueror. The modern Muslims and other western influenced faiths were no exception in imitation . The fall of the Free Market system (2008/9) calls into question the educational infrastructure that propped it up. This is now a perfect opportunity for all believers in One God (People of the Book and Muslims to unite as the Qur’an (Q3:64) encourages.  HLL create a new world of possibilities - from ‘education’, holistic learning to socio-economic progress. The computer and internet has liberated learning and made it freely accessible. Salman Khan, through his Khan Academy.Org is reaching the world, empowering learners and teachers freely - an intention Khan had initially - to provide quality education freely to the world. Google and Bill Gates are presently sponsoring Khan’s wholesome work. Some academics are criticising his work in that they believe that it only entrenches the existing educational systems - though Khan has as an intention the acceptance of self-learning by the formal sector. ICS uses some of his videos  to enhance the quality of the  HLL experiences.  HLL gives body and integration to all qualitative works done by individuals around the world. To achieve the necessary unity of purpose we need to accept new criteria for teachers, rather, Mediators of learning.

Characteristics of The HLL Mediator  can be extracted from the 99 Attributes of God, because man is the Ghaliefah (envoy of God). HLL mediators can thus work towards actualising compassion, mercy, peace, sincere love for learner happiness, gentleness, awareness of possibilities, forgiving, grateful, generous, truthful, responds well, trustworthy, friendly, courteous, innovative(creative), resourceful, driven, noble, fair, beneficent/caring, patient, enriching, enduring, has distinguished awareness of phenomena. With the aforementioned quality of mediators, and a learning environment that is flexible, qualitative and integrative, the new HLL paradigm can assist all in reaching holistic human potentials. HLL mediators have to be more free to continue doing research and create newer learning, teaching resources and observe learner development . HLL learners must be empowered to self-evaluate - a central feature of Qur’anic motivation towards personal success- worldly and in the hereafter. HLL, in view of the aforementioned pitches, itself against conventional external assessments of individuals in the following manner :

External Assessments                                                      Self-Assessment
control over another’s destiny                                    control over ones own destiny
bureaucratic control of individual                               reduction of bureaucratic control
belief that people cannot be trusted                          trust in people

Results                                                                           Results
Reduction in self-esteem                                                          Improved self-esteem

Type of Society it Builds                                             Type of Society it Builds
Self-centred for competition                                                      Self-centred for character improvement
Negative energies prevalent                                                  Positive energies through self-motivation
Little mutual support for success of another                        Increasing support of each other to succeed

The above indicates a necessity to develop in learners the skills for self-assessment to enhance self-evaluation and improve inter-personal relationships. Self-esteem development in school achievements grows when learners have well structured resources available and opportunities to evaluate themselves under the guidance of HLL Mediators.  HLL supplies the texts and models questions and answers to parents as well as learners. This is a Holistic service to improve qualitative parent-child relationship around school content and assessment skills development. Conventional schools see parents as homework-helpers with no guidelines to or actual model answers. Parents, in response, to conventional school homework pressures and lack of learner  personal assistance at school, reach out to private tutors. HLL create a school atmosphere for personal tuition by mediator and peer tutors - the sense of charity extended to school work and skills achievement. At ICS, we motivate learner to achieve good results with the purpose of helping each other to achieve and not achievement for individual personal greatness as often encouraged in conventional schools. ICS takes the responsibility of skills development, tutorship and intervention for progress of each learner on themselves as mediators. Parents are not expected to tutor their children or find tutors for them - when all attempts to help a learner at ICS fails, parents are called in to deal with the specifics which were identified during our attempt to help learners. Our experience at ICS was that this only happened when the home environment is stifling and the child shows retardation of skills every time he returns to school. Parents are highly valued in HLL and treated as a core participant in creating a safe and comfortable environment for their children. Homework is not given, only holistic projects that involve parents over 3months for end of Term Holistic Integrated Project presentation and mark. This is to create a holistic parent-child bonding opportunity around a school event. The following questionnaire will help institutions to improve their sense of value for parents. The questionnaire also identifies whether the the school is learner & family centred, proactive school or whether it is a school that waits on state, business and parents for hand-out, placing blame on others for their lack of progress. The table is based on the thought of respecting another individual - a religious duty of all - irrespective of one’s professional qualification of officialdom.

State Yes or No (if the school scores 20-26 = Blame-centred School; 27-34 = School on Progress; 40-35 = Proactive School)
Scoring: Q1,2,4, Q7-15,Q17,  Q19,20 = Yes 2/ No 1; Q3,5,6,9,16,18 = Yes 1/ No 2

1. Parents can give educational advice
2. There is a lovely, welcoming reception are for parents
3. Parents sit on bare chairs/ benches in a cold corridor
4. Home visits were done to assess the child’s family circumstances
5. Homework is constantly given even though there is evidence that a greater percentage of children’s parents are working and often ill-equipped to help their children
6. Parent meeting are called for learner and or school problems
7. Children and parents are encouraged to bring their own educational projects to school for evaluation
8. parents are invited to social gatherings to get to know their strengths
9. Parents are called when children have problems
10. Parents are visited when children have problems
11. Parents are called to meetings to congratulate them for their children’s outstanding performance or quality behaviour
12. Every parents skills, talents, likes, dislikes, needs etc. are confidentially known
13. Parents and children are actively involved with the planning of quality educational curricula and resource needs
14. Parents and children can choose specific educational research topics for their children and themselves to add to the school environment
15. Parents with special skills are invited to share their knowledge with the school community
16. Parents are often addressed by principals/ governing body members on lack of support, discipline etc.
17. Tea is always served to parents when they visit the school
18. Tea is always served to department/ business reps.
19. Phone calls are returned to parents who phoned re: educational or learner issues
20. There are specific parking areas for parents when they visit the school

The Implementation of HLL at ICS

Holistic education does not only relate to combining subjects and grades, but also presenting lessons in a holistic, cross-graded manner. In conventional schools, under state department polices, periods are used to dissect whole concepts into fragments over a year. This retards the understanding of children of the subject, because when the holistic, integrated skill of the subject is required, the fragments of lessons are too widely spaced in time for learners to put it all together in a coherent manner. Textbooks are also written in this fragmented way. When different teachers for the various subjects all do the same thing with their subject and learners are bombarded with homework from each teacher, the educational process becomes unmanageable for most children. Achievement under these circumstances is only for the bright one who has good home support and a good retentive memory. The majority of children are lost. The Qur’an holistically deals with diverse issues simultaneously - in one ayah or even one Arabic word -which is so rich in meaning that a volume can be written on one word.

Using the Qur’anic approach to Guidance HLL encourages the presentation of core integrated lessons in one hour sessions, through question and answer, discussion and interactive holistic teaching method. during this lesson presentation all learners of the various grades have an opportunity to listen to the input of different age children. After one hour the learners are tested immediately for term assessment mark. ICS often complete the whole year’s curriculum needs of school work for that subject for the year. The learner then sees the holistic value of all the components of the topic in one day’s presentation. This allows ICS to retest the whole curriculum many times over.

This holistic presentation allows for many reflective and insightful additions to the lessons. What adds to the lessons is that specific Qur’anic ayaat (marvels) are recited, memorised, translated and discussed in the morning assembly. These Ayaat are related to Science, Maths, Social Studies and motivation. After break recital and translation of Athkaar (Remembrance of God, commonly known in the community) are done with all learners. After school selected hadeeth (Qoutes from the Prophet Mughammad (Pbuh)) are recited memorised and discussed. This spiritual stimulation and understanding of the principal text allows learners the opportunity to see spirituality in every learning experience.

In HLL and at ICS, Mathematics is the central academic skill through which all school subjects are viewed. This is because the Qur’an relates that God created everything with Qadr (measure, proportion, scale, ratio, number). Muslims have also left a legacy behind in that Arabic Numerals are used in Maths, Algebra is of Arabic origin and Logarithms is the work of a famous Muslim scholar Al-Khwarizmi. The skill of plotting graphs with two variables are central to dealing with data in all subjects. The x/y axes also relates to the duality The Qur’an presents life as. It is only in seeing the value of opposites is one able to appreciate life and move beyond the obvious. HLL allows for the reflection of the Divine Qualities in each phenomenon. It is thus an appropriate learning methodology for the new Global village where the appreciation of interconnectedness of all phenomena is a requirement. HLL can further be valued as the 21st century learning methodology from an extract from Shaykh Fadhlala Haeri book “The Essential Message of The Qur’an” in which he sums up the link between the physical and spiritual world;

“ Allah (SWT) is The Essence and Source of all that exists. Human beings are guided to truth and light according to the extent of their individual readiness and ability to be transformed. The path of enlightenment begins with the intellectual search for the relationship between cause and effect, actions and events and their meanings and ultimate purpose. The Real One Source behind all actions and attributes, both seen and unseen, will be realised only by transcending all dualities and causalities. To see the One essence at the root of every situation implies seeing total perfection in the moment. This happens when all “otherness” fades away under the light of “Oneness”.

HLL aims at stimulating the inner FITRAH (Natural innate purity of informed Divine Spirit within each child and adult involved in learning) through flexible, holistic integration al, all subjects and grades to give the educational fraternity a new lease on life at a time when all structures that were needed to bolster Capitalism, are crashing and people are reaching out for solutions. It is interesting that when the material world fails people turn to spirituality for the rescue. This is just one proof of mankind’s real spiritual nature and need for God. By providing learners with the needs, guiding them to see the integrations and allowing them to explore, while giving them the dignity to ad on to the learning environment through their specific interests, HLL truly respects the learner as a whole and not as a subject to fit into an existing economic market. What education departments often lose sight of is that their curricula ad methodologies are often designed and based on their own experience, which becomes outdated by the second. The curricula for the youth will thus be outdated when the learners complete school. Curricula and teaching methodologies must have foresight and foresight is an unseen, thus spiritual phenomenon. So if education deny Spiritually and basis its planning on the evident without its inherent spiritual value, then it is doomed for failure. Again I wish to qoute from Haeri:

Every human being is driven along the path of unity by the original primal desire for happiness. The Qur’an declares that only by the remembrance of Allah (SWT) does the heart become content and thus truly happy. Our real or perceived wordly needs will eventually drive us towards that direction and goal. For example, our need for health drives us to call upon “The Healer”. Our need for guidance causes us to evoke “The Guide”. We are inconstant need of calling upon one or more of Allah’s Names, but not always with sufficient faith and focus. The Prophet (Pbuh) is the best earthly guide who consistently reflect The Universal Guide. The sincere seeker is constantly focused on a Divine Names or Attribute that is needed to bring about equilibrium and harmony in life. Human life can only reach completeness by appropriate intention, timely action and constant trust in Allah’s ever-present Brace and Mercy”

The transformation of education needs the holistic search for the spirituality in learning. It is with this focus that mankind has been instructed by God to Read (IQRA). ICRA in the name of the first school to implement HLL, stands for Islamic ‘Centre for Research and Activity’ and hence serves a reminder to IQRA.   

The core focus of HLL is reflection on the Divine Attributes in every learning phenomenon. Everything in and around us reflect the divine attributes and Grace. I remember one of my grade 5 learners remarking while watching a documentary on crocodiles. As she saw the crocodile picking up her young with her powerful jaw, she said “look at the Mercy of Allah (SWT) ‘’. That was a successful moment when a child can see the Mercy of Allah (SWT) in the strength and mercy of an animal. It is in this spirit that HLL must function.

A core consideration of HLL is the children’s natural inclination to compete. This is used to structure at least three assessments for a particular subject after three well integrated lesson presentations. This allows learners to see their progress and get a complete understanding of the subject’s flow - instead of breaking it into periods, with other subjects in between for a specific day.  In HLL, one subject’s core features are presented for the whole day and all needed assessments for the term is completed in one day. The next day the next subject is dealt with and a link is found with the previous day’s presentations and assessments. Learners retain much more and become more skilled in the subject because it was presented as a whole. The needed assessment requirements are also achieved as well as the intervention for struggling learners.

Future Potential for HLL

Without finance HLL schools can function from any venue, because it is resource-based, research oriented, computer and cell-phone friendly. The core features are the 7 activity areas that are Qur’anicly based - allowing any syllabus, curriculum to find an integrated place in HLL. But with finance it can transform into a real Research centre of learning. Arts in Islam’s architecture would allow for a central courtyard and fountain for wudu(ablution) and rooms leading into the courtyard. Each room will, in sequence house a Nature-, People-, Language-, Trade- Calculation-, Construction, Micro-& Telescopic Activity Areas. Each HLL mediator, who has thereafter specialised in a specific Activity area, will serve as the consultant/ mediator for the learners’ help and to plan their specific assessments for their specific activity area. Learners will choose their research topics from the chosen curricula available, knowing the year plan for each Activity Area.

The following is an example of an integrated year plan for HLL to satisfy the needs of state assessment standards through the Holistic integration of HLL used to prepare all the resources in a HLL School

Natural Science
Energies, Health
Dangers, Remedies
Nature’s Communication
Resources, Conservation
Pollution, Sustainability
Materials, Engineering
Scientific Evaluation
People/Life Orient
Communication, Decisions
Interests, talents
Medicine, Healing
Problem Solving
Beliefs, Cultures
Aptitude, Goal Setting
Careers, Health
Critical Reflection
Decision Making
Personal Potential
Human Rights
People/ Soc.Sc
Cause & Effects
Inequalities, Precautions
Limited Resources, Wars
Culture & Artefacts
Interpretations, Conclusion
Critical Choices, Constructs
Disputes, Laws
Maps, Environment
Eng, Afr, Arab
Sentence, Speech
Spelling, Diction,
Essay, drama
Idiom, Rhyme
Essays, Poems
Letters, Plays
Styles, Themes
Irony, Film
Writing, Review
Business Ideas
Business Administration
Economic Cycles
Demand & Supply
National Budget
Economic Cycle
Number & Shapes
Estimations, Conversions
Banking, Data Tables
Pricing, Discounts
Algebra & Geometry
Data & Graphs
Unit Costs, Exchange Rates
Savings, Profits, Commission
Patterns & Algebra
Data Skills
Construction/ Art & Culture
Song, Dance, Art
Materials, Balance
Composition, Events
Production, Change
Culture, Design
Stylists, Choreography
Context, Appreciation
Influence, Critique
Contextual Use
Cultural arts
Materials, Techniques
Plan, Process, Execution
Promotions, Precuations
Rights, Environment
Design, Communication
Biases, Modifications
Exchange, Research
Protection, Usefulness

The above allows learners to see the correct place-value of topics dealt within resources and mediator presentations in a HLL school.

The Leisure of HLL
An extremely effective part of the HLL methodology, based on children’s affinity, is the 52 educational songs I wrote and sang which capture junior science and language needs and the writing of short, crisp and qualitative poems that capture the essence of a subject, while presenting the Islamic Values and contributions. The Learners love it and often use it to jog their memory to access knowledge from their memory.

Example of One Song I composed that captures the essence of the Subject

The Air Pressure by M.F.Arnold

The Higher we go-oo,
The colder it gets x2
And its this which causes water to condense into rain x2

Example of a Crisp yet Comprehensive ICS Poem

The Power of Language by M.F.Arnold

Read, Peruse, Study and Teach
Thsi is the first Instruction for Each.
Poetry, Prose
Stood for a while,
Was totally Deposed
By Qur’anic Style.
Arabic, The Language to Reflect,
Develops Acute Intellect.
English sentence broadens Deep,
Through Qur’anic Roots,
Interchanging Leaps.
Word, Phrase, Sentence, Feat,
Bring Messages from Many a Seat.
Learn to Earn
And do not Spurn,
The Reading Power of constant Churn.
Language Builds a People’s Pride,
Who stand Firm and do not Hide

Number Sense by M.F.Arnold

Everything is in Number,
Used by Everyone, even The Plumber.
Multiply, Divide, Add and Subtract,
Create a Science that is very Exact.
Arabic Numerals we all use,
for Qur’an and Science are Holistically Fused.
Shape Volume, Depth and Height,
Bring Capacity into Sight.
Algebra and Logarithms, The Arabs Brought,
Allowing Balance, Harmony and Critical Thought.

The Orbit by M.F.Arnold

Centred, The Nucleus,
Electrons around,
With Energy Levels, Absolutely Profound.
The Octet Rule for Electron Share,
Makes New Substances for Those Who Dare.
Elements so Pure,
Molecules a Mix,
Give New Materials a Constant Fix.
The Atomic Orbits,
Like Heavenly Bodies -
In Total Service from The One Who Loves,
The Needy Humans and The Doves.
Flight, a Miracle,
To Observe,
For those who want to serve,
The One Who Gave all Nerves.

The Above 3 from 13 poems I wrote to capture the essence of each subject. It is available as part of the ICS Holistic Integrated Text (HIT) for HLL, published on-line on Bo-Kaap:Helper Blogspot. The poems are loaded with qualitative, integrative information that teachers and learners can engage with, expand and develop to ensure quality holistic education.

What is proven above is that HLL has created a ‘framework’, rather guidelines for quality “education”, rather LEARNING, through crisp summaries and simplifications and yet enhancing the delivery of quality learning on various levels for all subjects in an integrated manner, added with spirituality. The presentations of HLL, above truly enhances holistic REFLECTION (Ta-fak-kur) of learners, teachers, parents and educational official - a quality The Qur’an urges its readers to own, in order to experience His Presence. Tafakkur brings everything together, holistically, for all role-players in learning - a process towards towards success - transformation from the seen to the Unseen:

a truly religious person is able to convert physical events into spiritual lessons. He derives spiritual nourishment from material things. The Quran has described how godly people continuously derive such sustenance from their environment, thus maintaining their intellectual and spiritual well-being. This is elaborated upon in the Quran as follows:
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the succession of night and day, there are signs for men of understanding; those that remember God when standing, sitting, and lying down, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying): ‘Lord, You have not created these in vain. Glory be to You! Save us from the torment of the fire, Lord.” (3:191)
Meditation is essential for developing our spirituality. Meditation in Islam is a high kind of contemplation. It is not a state of silence, but a deep kind of thinking process. It takes us from the seen world to the unseen, from darkness to light, from chaos to conviction, from limitation to limitlessness, from word to meaning. It is like a door through which one enters another world. In short, from the human world we reach the divine world.(6)

It is the duty of the mediator to open the doors of total success, worldly and the next, for his/her learners.  The Aim of HLL is the Love for God through reflection on His Creations. If that aim is reached and HLL can be a path, then the learning process HLL offers, would be successful.

To develop change-agent qualities in ICS students, students are furnished with the following 10-Point Guidelines , to re-direct students away from conventional schooling that is teacher-curriculum-centred and disempowering in its infrastructure that fits new minds into old boxes (with new labels).

ICS Student 10-Point Guidelines to Live By: (Inshaa Allah)
1. Be Proactive - Do not wait for others
2. Have a Research Attitude - find knowledge and develop skills
3. Infuse a Personal Drive - be self-motivated
4. Analyse What is Delivered to you or found by you - be Acutely / very Aware of what goes on around you - do not just accept things as is.
5. Be Creative - go beyond the common expectations and traditional thought - don't be boxed in . Think out of the box.
6. Show Commitment - have evidence of your constant involvement with learning, study, research, self-test and achievement
7. Turn Work-into-Play and Relaxation - re-design content into Fun-Loving Creative Activities that Motivate you and others
8. Do not Fall for Fads - Don't imitate others or be Trapped in what's fashionable 
9. Never Waste Time - use Time Efficiently 
10. Be Grateful to Allah (SWT) - Thank Allah (SWT) every day for the health, sustenance and opportunities He ( The Almighty) Gives you.


Holistic Leisure Learning (HLL) questions the majority of conventional thinking regarding education, Islamisation of Education, management practice and the concept of “Educator” including the over-loaded textbooks. It presents a more contemporary answer to the problems that exist in education. Often society is so comfortable in what  educational structures that exist, that they refuse to critically engage with it. They often do not realise that systems and structures they support, perpetuate the educational and social problems. Boxing learning content into separate compartments and units and the hierarchical positioning to find an identity and recognition in education, has lots to do with the lack of unity and care in educational delivery. While conventional schooling focus on careers (yet only 0.1% of the formally qualified students find jobs), HLL offers an active learning process that connects the learner on a path to experience the “Face/ Presence of Allah (SWT)”, through reflecting and studying his marvels (AAYAAT) with a clear and trusting mind and heart and openness to work sincerely(Q3:191-195). This 21st century HLL methodology finds its practical origin in the  Ghadeeth of the Prophet Mughammad (Pbuh), that believers must not oppress one another or hand a believer over to an oppressor, but supply one another with their needs and Allah (SWT) will supply such a serving believer to others, with whatever he/she needs (Bukh 46:3). When adults create structures to control and monitor children while forcing them into a path to satisfy adult needs politically, economically or socially, then they will suffer discipline problems in their schools of a harsh natures. It seems that the undisciplined schools  is the punishment from God for oppressing the young. There are few incidences at ICRA Comprehensive of misbehaviour, but the learner soon transform into the flow of work ethic. The progress that ICRA Learners and students are experiencing, through the HLL methodology is remarkable within the short period of time – 3 years - due to the open and creative methods employed by the facilitators, who are also prepared to learn from pupils and students. It is in this relaxed service-oriented learning and demand-teaching environment, that the new technologically adept children find a successful home for the future. The success seems due to the single aim of those who drive the HLL process – The Love for Allah SWT(God).

The result of the Love for God is expressed in this Ghadeeth Qudsi (a Holy Statement declared by God to the Prophet Mughammad (Pbuh) which is not Qur'an).
Narrated Abu Huraira (RA). Allah's Apostle (pbuh) said: “Allah said, 'I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshiper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave(adorer) comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him:\; and my slave(adorer) keeps on coming closer to me through performing Nawafil ( prayer or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks: and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My Protection(Refuge), I will protect him;(give him My Refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and hate to disappoint him”.
(Bukhari Vol 8,Hadeerth 509, p 336)

Any school thus which embarks on guiding learners to love God through the reflection of His aayaat (marvels/ signs/ miracles) is thus offering the learner true freedom and power to receive (achieve by the Grace of God) anything. This is because he can see, hear, go and create anything he/she wills, because his/her Will, will be the guided Will of the Creator, Lord of the Universe. It is thus always the duty of the learning facilitators to expose learners to as much as possible and not to restrict the learner within the confines of his/her grade, state, business or society's preoccupations. The world and the universe is as vast as what we expose ourselves to, thus, allow the child to venture into the universes the Qur'an motivates man towards. This is freedom in the submission to the Power of God and no-one else, to attain His Nearness and Love. That is perfect learning - introducing the appreciation of God through Holistic (unitary/Tauheed) Leisure ( Qur'an Advice is to ease people's life Q2:185) Learning (HLL) endeavours. The core function of mediators at HLL school is to integrate and accelerate the learning process and in so doing motivate learners into life-long learning - the Prophetic Advice to learn from the Cradle to the Grave.

1. Ali, Y(1946), The Holy Qur’an - Translation and Commentary, Islamic Propagation Centre International, Durban, South Africa

2. Arnold, M.F (2001), Transformation of Education towards Distinguished Awareness:’ILM, Islamic Educational Services (IES), Cape Town

3. Arnold, M.F. (2012); Bo-Kaap: Helper, Blogspot, Holistic Integrated Text for HLL

4. Ansari, F.R. (1977),The Qur’anic Foundations and Structure of Muslim Society
World Federation of Islamic Missions, Pakistan

5. Haeri, F. (2011); The Essential Message of The Qur’an, O-Books, UK


7. Khan.M (1976) Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol 8, hadeeth 509, p336, Islamic University, Al-Medina Al-Munnauwara

8. Sardar, Z(1988) Rediscovery of Islamic Epistemology; Islamic Feature: The Shape of Ideas to come, Pelanduk Publication, Kuala Lumpur

9. May, H (1986); Trialblazer, Argus, Dec, 1990

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