Muslim Mothers and their Children’s Schooling at The Norwegian Study Centre, University of York

31st October 2017

I was delighted to accept an invitation to address a diverse audience of trainee and experienced teachers from three institutions in Norway, along with undergraduate students at York, taking a Race Relations in Britain module. My lecture started with the rationale for the empirical research about Muslim mothers with children in British state schools and explored their narratives around identity. Touching on some of the interview data, the audience heard a range of views in relation to the mothers’ own education, in the first instance, followed by thoughts about their children’s schooling.

‘We have to show who we are because of the wrong ideas.’ (Hodan)

‘I’d say a sound education is one where my daughters are pushed, challenged and supported. Their experiences should be wide, with opportunities and a chance of good integration.’ (Rizwana)

(photo credit: B. Sinar)

The lecture laid the foundation for the following three seminars  which expanded on themes from the book, of relevance to each cohort. The trainee teachers engaged with data about the ways in which the mothers   participated in school life. Invariably, this included discussing the barriers to participation both from the interviews and the students’ experiences. This led to insightful analysis of interview extracts, raising further questions about the local context and parent community. Some students had experience of migrant parents during their school observations and related this to the examples we discussed.

For senior educators, the themes presented were on: curriculum challenges, securitization and supplementary education. Delving into parents’ dilemmas about SRE (Sex and Relationship Education) and digesting their views and fears around the culture of surveillance, are not the easiest subjects to discuss, especially after lunch! However, the comments made helped to get the wheels of discussion moving along.

While no one seminar can do justice to these subjects, the discussions had, will hopefully serve as a springboard to many more with colleagues. I certainly found the participation from those attending left me with much to think over on the train ride home. While the day flew by all too quickly, the warmth and hospitality of staff at the Norwegian Study Centre stayed with me, as I look forward to further collaborations.

 

Some feedback from students and teachers:

‘Your lecture put a light on awareness around Muslim Moms. This is so very important these days. Thanks.’

‘It’s an interesting topic and it’s surprisingly a lot I didn’t know even though I’m a part of a minority too.’

‘Very interesting. Provided very useful insight. I liked reading extracts and discussing.’

‘Wonderful seminar and such an important topic. It’s good to raise awareness for us soon-to-be educators. Thank you.’

‘Very interesting and well structured, would ideally have liked to be able to contribute more to the discussions with own experiences of teaching but I’m not a teacher yet and going to become one. Interesting though.’

‘Interesting to learn about securitization from a British Muslim’s point of view, and not only from the media.’

‘Thank you for a relaxed talk on a serious topic. Appreciate the magnitude of the issues and very personal style of discussions.’

‘Thank you for the enlightenment. This is so important both in the UK and Norway.’

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