What an AFA education looks like
AFA focuses on:
AFA is about relationships:
- Relationship with yourself - your skills, emotions, hopes, strengths, challenges
- Relationship with knowledge
- Learning, growing, academics
- Relationship with others/creation
- Service, caretaking
- Relationship with Allah
American Muslim Identity
Islam in America must become wenyējï, "something belonging here." It must be indigenous-not in the sense of losing identity through total assimilation or of being the exclusive property of the native-born-but in the word's original sense, namely, being natural, envisioned, and born from within. Regardless of birthplace, Muslim Americans become indigenous once they truly belong. Islam in America becomes indigenous by fashioning an integrated cultural identity that is comfortable with itself and functions naturally in the world around it. - Dr. Umar Faruq Abd Allah, The Cultural Imperative 2004
According to the Pew Forum Survey 2017 Muslim Americans overwhelmingly embrace both the “Muslim” and “American” parts of their identity and a vast majority of U.S. Muslims say they are proud to be American (92%), while nearly all say they are proud to be Muslim (97%). Nine-in-ten (89%) say they are proud to be both Muslim and American.
A thriving American Muslim identity cannot be limited to individuals merely as “identifying” as either or both. This identity, as Dr. Abd Allah writes, need to be one that is nuanced, textured and fully expressible as belonging to both. In other words, identity in this case needs to be understood in context of a life lived knowingly within a culture.
At Al Fatih Academy, we embrace this understanding and help students in their development of dual identities in a way that is true to their cultural and religious foundations.
Integrated/Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching
At AFA we believe that integration in learning means to consciously bring parts of a whole together so the result is greater than these parts.
An integrated, or thematic based curriculum is when a teacher presents a unified or integrated knowledge to the student in many forms. This curriculum is created by defining each grade’s learning objectives, forming these into essential questions, then plugging the adopted standards of learning across subject areas while these standards are usually stand alones.
Teachers plan via a web where the topic is in the center (e.g. plants) and the strands coming out are each of the subjects (math, science, language, history etc) to be filled in with corresponding lessons. The scope and sequence of each lesson or unit is based on how much is introduced by the teacher but even more importantly how much the students take the lead on their own learning.
Students write poetry about plants while sowing a variety of seeds either in their classroom or school garden, measuring their own plant’s progress and understanding what plants need to grow while learning the names of the plants living around their building while researching what plants have been eradicated or introduced in the surrounding neighborhoods over time while also learning why people have allergies to certain pollen and plants.
At AFA we believe the most lasting learning happens when it is connected to and pulled from actual surroundings where a student lives or learns.
Place-based education (PBE) emphasizes and actively connects about what is around the student as well as the historical, environmental, social and political elements of these surroundings. It can be as simple as knowing the classification of trees on the playground, cleaning the street, to understanding how the school’s neighborhood was created and changed over time through various impacts.
Students pick up trash monthly as part of the Adopt a Street program in front of the school. Practicing stewardship and classifying trash found, creating a campaign to end littering, learning about animals in the area that might be affected and furthering recycling efforts.
Cultural Literacy means to understand and know a culture’s basic values, ideals, critiques of, and problematic considerations. Beyond just “must knows”, we believe at AFA that knowledge must be connected to student realities through history, trends, politics of our American culture and experiences. So when we are aware and involved in our country’s fabric and pulse, this helps us be a catalyst for social justice now and in the future.