The Story Behind the Open Doors

Ustadh Firas AlKhateeb
Teachers Get a Different Take on Teaching

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Everyone always wonders what goes on in a classroom, behind closed doors. There are so many messages floating around, verbally transmitted by the teacher, and you wonder how much reaches the students and if anything is retained.

It is only at those unassuming moments that you know that something stuck. It is when the doors open and student speaks to student, and teacher converses with teacher, and then everyone reconvenes, that you realize that everyone has been chugging along on the same tracks, grasping for more.

As an educator, it’s easy to fall into a static routine. When you teach the same material year after year, there’s always a danger of apathy creeping into daily practice. One of the things that makes Darul Qasim so unique is the dynamic learning environment created by its teachers and students.

Darul Qasim is a place where:

  • Students are Critical Thinkers & Researchers

Here, students aren’t taught to be mechanical learners, memorizing material then restating it for exams. They’re taught to be critical thinkers, to question, and to research. Our students bring together diverse fields of study, such as logic, theology, law, history, and the sciences to represent and re-present issues within the Islamic intellectual tradition in new and challenging ways. When students have a command of such diverse academic fields, classroom discussions naturally become much more engaging and beneficial for both the students and teachers.

  • Teachers are Constantly Inspired to Learn More

It’s cliché for teachers to say that they learn just as much from their students as the students learn from them. But that has been the honest reality for me in my teaching experience at Darul Qasim. My students have expanded my own academic horizons, not only through challenging questions that require me to go find an answer, but through discussions and suggestions that inspire me to do more research, so I have a more complete understanding of the topic at hand.

And, I know I’m not alone in this. Come to the teacher’s lounge and you’ll always find educators discussing issues among themselves that have come up in their classes. Everyone is willing to learn from everyone else, which is something I haven’t seen in any other teaching environment I’ve been a part of.

  • The Rich Environment Nurtures More Knowledge

On one occasion, a discussion with a student about a journal article on early Islamic legal theory led to conversations between the two of us and a few other teachers on the nature of early Hanafi legal and theological trends and how Muslim historiography developed over the early centuries of Islam. This directly affected my understanding of the Islamic intellectual tradition and was a great help a few months later as I worked on a paper on 16th century conceptions of early Muslim theology. At the end of the day, all of this leads to an environment where teachers aren’t content to just teach a text then go home. Everyone from first years to advanced students to teachers is here to learn. That makes Darul Qasim a uniquely rich and beneficial academic environment.

Darul Qasim is truly a place where teachers come to learn to learn to teach. Your contribution will make a difference in this interconnected ecosystem of knowledge, and I encourage you to consider giving.

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