August 16, 2006

Boys subjected to 9 hours of rote memorization a day in NYC.

The NYT has what seems meant to read as a charming human interest piece about "children" -- really, boys -- who are sent to school in New York City for 9 hours a day to work exclusively on the task of memorizing the Koran.
But this level of devotion to Islam has a way of causing suspicion these days. While parents whose children are in the schools said they were proud of them, they also worry about how they will be perceived.
How they will be perceived? This isn't a matter of stimulating the supposed ethnic prejudice of Americans, it's blatantly violating the laws of compulsory schooling!

The young boys are taught that if they memorize the entire Koran, they will gain admittance to heaven and the right to choose 10 persons to bring along with them. If believed, this is a powerful incentive. There is a sense that the entire family is relying on him. Meanwhile, these boys -- who must be quite smart to have a shot at memorizing the 6,200 verses -- are deprived of all other education, including instruction in Arabic, the language of the text they are memorizing phonetically. (Nor are they provided with a translation: they are learning only to pronounce sounds.)
By not offering instruction in other subjects, the school may be inadvertently running afoul of state law, according to city and state education officials. Private religious schools like the Muslim Center’s program are required to provide “substantially equivalent” instruction to that offered in public schools, they said. But tracking every school-age child who leaves the public school system can be difficult.
Inadvertently? Inadvertently?! And how "difficult" can it be to detect schools that are completely out of line?
Several parents said they were not worried about their children falling behind because they are smart enough to make up the academic work. Some students from the class have, in fact, gone on to the city’s best high schools, parents and school officials said.

Nevertheless, next year, the school plans to introduce two hours of instruction in math, science, English and social studies, said Mohammad Tariq Sherwani, director of the Muslim Center. The additional classes mean it will take longer for students to finish memorizing. “But it is worth it,” he said.
I love that "nevertheless," as if it is just fine to subject a young child to 9 hours of rote memorization a day as long as "some" of them can make it to the best high schools. Presumably, those who do are unusually intelligent and have also spent their evenings doing remedial work in language and math.

At what point do you stop romanticizing another culture and start to see child abuse and plain violations of compulsory schooling laws? Surely, a Christian private school that dispensed with academic study (or threw in two hours) would catch hell.
[The mother of one of the students] confessed that she sometimes questioned whether she was doing the right thing with her son, fretting that Thaha, who would have been entering the sixth grade this year if he had stayed in regular school, does not know his multiplication tables, for example.

But the beauty of this country, Mrs. Sherwani said, is that her son is free to have it both ways, to be steeped in Islam and be whatever he wants.
No. The beauty and freedom of this country does not include the right to deprive children of schooling.

165 comments:

paulfrommpls said...

First impression: the battle is joined - the one that England's already lost. It seems the NYT is opting for CO status.

Dawn said...

Mom is worried that her sixth grade (well, would have been in sixth grade) son doesn't know his multiplication tables? I'm more worried now that not only her son, but the rest of the boys in this school will one day strap explosives to themselves and murder hundreds of innocents in a subway station during morning rush hour.

This is exactly how terrorists are made - grab them when they're children, and fill their heads with the ideology of hatred.

Balfegor said...

This is exactly how terrorists are made - grab them when they're children, and fill their heads with the ideology of hatred.

I dunno. Out of the myriads of people who spend their lives rote-memorising a religious text in a language they do not understand, I expect few actually move on to terror. It seems to be converts (e.g. J. Walker Lindh, Richard Reid, that Australlian fellow), and Western or secularly educated Muslims (e.g. Osama Bin Laden, Mohammed Atta) who are or should be our main worry.

On the other hand, I guess the Palestinians have been pretty effective in turning successive generations into suicide bombers with their educational system, but again, I think that's a secular kind of education that just happens to be laced with fervent Judenhass.

Joe said...

Celebrate Diversity!

The Drill SGT said...

Ann,

In your discussion of Mrs. Sherwani, you missed the fact that she is a government lawyer... Or did you? :)

Unlike many of the parents with children in the class, Hina Sherwani, Thaha’s mother, was born and raised in the United States. She is an assistant corporation counsel for the city of Mount Vernon.

Palladian said...

And, I would add, make sure they learn nothing else so that they do not have the chance to develop the critical faculties that might one day keep them from blowing themselves up over those 6200 verses that they learned phonetically when they were children.

The only things I was ever required to memorize in school were the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I used to memorize things on my own, for my own amusement, like Shakespeare's Sonnets (I made it to 43). Later, in high school, I had to memorize (and recite) a poem of my own choosing; I picked TS Eliot's "The Waste Land", which does not gain me admittance to heaven, nor anywhere else that I've yet discovered.

tjl said...

If you are looking for the root causes of their anger (that well-worn theme of the left) then this is it. Take young boys, fill their heads with nothing but Islamic texts, and make them unfit to support themselves or play any productive role in Western society. The result: instant alienation, total disconnect from the life around them, absolute incomprehension of anything but Islam. How could the alumni of this madrassa not be angry when they grow up and have to face the real world?

Ann Althouse said...

Drill: I saw it. It just didn't make the edit, but I do think it's amazing. This isn't an uneducated immigrant.

Dawn: The article doesn't establish that they are being filled with hatred. It does, however, show that their minds are being stunted, used for a task that displaces learning that could be used in an individual way. This deprivation may be more shocking than teaching bad facts and theories.

Sloanasaurus said...

We need to shut these radical schools down now. People should be free to choose an education, but the education must be a reasonable one. Even if these kids did not become islamic fascists, they will be useless citizens requiring care by the state.

The Drill SGT said...

I had one honors English teacher in HS that once a week or so, made us memorize a short passage; The Gettysburg Address. Preamble to the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Hamlet's Soliloquy, Mark Anthony's funeral Oration, etc.

Time well spent as I see it today. He was a retired USMC Colonel. Quite a guy.

Dave said...

"We need to shut these radical schools down now. People should be free to choose an education, but the education must be a reasonable one. Even if these kids did not become islamic fascists, they will be useless citizens requiring care by the state."

Agreed.

But what about schools that teach intelligent design? What about home-schooled kids? Etc., etc., etc.

Also, I would note that some Orthodox Jews make a practice of memorizing arcane texts such as the Talmud, to the practical exclusion of anything else. In Israel these "scholars" are subsidized by the state and in the United States they do not hold down regular jobs and create wealth.

Mantra: the only thing I ask of the religious is that they consider the extent to which religion has sunk man.

MadisonMan said...

It reads like they are learning sounds -- not the underlying meaning below the sounds -- as the students don't know Arabic. I wonder how this differs from playing an instrument. Here, the instrument is the voice. They've memorized one long and complex piece. Is this a problem only because they are learning the Koran and are Arabic and terrorists are men who know the Koran (but, don't fully understand it, I'll argue)? Would this be a problem if they were memorizing the bible in Aramaic?

The parents are doing their children no favor. What kind of job lists full knowledge of the sounds in the Koran as a requirement?

tcd said...

If one were so inclined, one could rationalize that these madrassas are creating freedom fighters of the future.

The Drill SGT said...

MM,

One of Ann's and the articles points were that this schooling is against the law around the country. Parents have some freedom to pick schools and material, e.g. ID, etc. The state, however, insists on a set of core material to create productive adults. the 3R's.

Jeff said...

"He envisions the children in the school becoming not just religious leaders but doctors, lawyers and engineers, helping to bridge the gap between the Muslim world and American society. “We want them to be leaders in all different kinds of roles.”
How exactly does he think this will happen?
"Students know how to pronounce the words but mostly do not know what they mean."
At least 3 years gone from education. So are these kids destined to be 21 year old high school seniors? The article says one school started "several years ago" How many years ago? What has become of the first class? Has it been open long enough to provide any useful data about these kids future? If only there was some sort of informational resource where questions like this could be asked and the reported thru such a resource.

Sean E said...

But just think of the power these kids will have if they successfully memorize the whole thing. Being able to hand out 10 free passes to Heaven has to give you some clout with your friends and family. I'd be carrying a list around with me everywhere I went and conspicuously adding or crossing out names. "Broccoli Mom? OK, your call." (Pulls out list strokes out Mom's name.)

kimsch said...

By not offering instruction in other subjects, the school may be inadvertently running afoul of state law, according to city and state education officials.

Instruction? They aren't offering instruction in the Koran by having children memorize sounds that they don't understand.

Martin Luther aided the Catholics in this way many years ago, by translating the Bible into German, the language his people spoke, from Latin, which they did not.

Steve Donohue said...

It reads like they are learning sounds -- not the underlying meaning below the sounds -- as the students don't know Arabic. I wonder how this differs from playing an instrument. Here, the instrument is the voice.

Perhaps true, but 1.) Musicians can find jobs as musicians, and 2.)even very highly gifted musicians are subjected to a regular school schedule at that young age. Also, if I may carry the comparison a bit further, if a student were expected to gain that level of proficiency playing the notes, he'd be expected to learn the underlying music theory behind it, even as a youngster.

Is this a problem only because they are learning the Koran and are Arabic and terrorists are men who know the Koran (but, don't fully understand it, I'll argue)? Would this be a problem if they were memorizing the bible in Aramaic?

I'll answer the second question first- yes, it would be a problem.

As for the first part, it's not that the course itself teaches hatred, but instead that the curriculum creates scores of people who are 1.) uneducated, and 2.) unusually devoted to their religion. That seems like the perfect recipe for future brainwashing, especially considering that Al-Qaeda types have made it apparent that they prefer Westernized types over Uzbeki yakherds.

The Drill SGT said...

At the risk of taking us off topic:

No Child Left Behind :)


couple of comments

1. The article featured kids from up scale families for the human interest. What about the Barely literate father, who imported an illiterate wife from the old country, and whose kid in the academy isn't rocket scientist material, able to catch up after a 3 year hiatus. a Bomber in the making.

2. I'd have less to complain about if the Lawyer wife had said, we have him enrolled in a certified home schooling program and I work with him on weekends.

3. I bet the state and city have completely punted on their obligations to these kids out of PC'ness.

MadisonMan said...

I should have asked: would it be news if they were learning the bible in Aramaic? This Suzuki method of religious texts.

Jim said...

Since Amerikan public education and compulsory church attendance represent child abuse to start with, you are splitting hairs to complain about compulsory Koran memorization. Furthermore, it is better that the kids do not understand what they are memorizing, from what I know of the Koran.

Get over the idea of kid freedom or enlightenment in Amerika. Kids are property of the parents when they aren't property of the state. Which is worse?

Steve Donohue said...

If there were non-negligible numbers of Christian students graduating from these schools, I think it would be equally likely to be news. However, I think we'd hear a lot more from psychologists and education professors talking about how detrimental the experience is to these youths. And they'd be right.

paulfrommpls said...

Jim, that may be the oddest comment I've ever seen.

Truly said...

"Compulsory church attendance"? Buh?

BJK said...

I just want to know more about the memorization thing. In order to get your friends into heaven, do you have to continue to have that information memorized....or is there some public test at some point and you pass, so you can go on to do something else with your life.


How much would it suck to spend 18 years of your life memorizing a passage you can't actually read and or understand only to have part of it overwritten with the theme song to Family Guy by the time you're in your mid-40s.

Richard Dolan said...

This story raises a lot of complex issues, although one that is not complex is the point Ann makes about the need to comply with state education laws specifying the minimum req'd curriculum.

Presumably, the NY authorities (the NYC Dept of Ed and the NYS Bd of Regents) will address the inadequate curriculum, and require compliance with minimum standards. But the larger issues raised by this story will be much harder to deal with.

First, it is important to recognize that other religious groups in NYC operate school systems that outsiders are likely to view quite skeptically. I have in mind the orthodox yeshivas run by some of the Hasidic sects, where the curriculum is heavily weighted towards the study of Torah, often with an emphasis on the commentary by former leading rabbis of that sect. Unlike this Muslim school, I have no reason to doubt that the yeshivas comply with state requirements. But they are similar to this Muslim school in their focus on teaching religion to an extent that outsiders might regard as fanatical, and on the goal of maintaining a carefully maintained social/ethnic separation from the main currents of American society.

As Ann points out, the language used by the NYT reporter in this article casts that separatist impulse in an approving light, and in doing reflects, perhaps unconsciously, prevailing PC notions that the "melting pot" is based on invidious assumptions about the superiority of "American" (read: white male European-based American) culture compared with native third-world cultures. The subtext is all about avoiding any impulse to "impose" that Eurocentric culture on third worlders. Does anyone else hear a faint echo of Franz Fanon in the background of this article?

Interestingly, the kids quoted in the article sound like typical second-generation Americans. The son of Mrs. Sharwani, for example, looks forward to successfully completing this memorization program so that he can get back to public school because he likes math, and states that his ambition is to become the first Muslim player in professional baseball to have memorized the entire Koran. The parents described in the article are successful in a standard American way: a lawyer, a doctor, a business owner. It seems unlikely that they will be indifferent to their children's progress, measured purely in secular ways.

Those who immediately see this school as a "training ground for terrorists" are reacting more to their own preconceptions than to reality. There is nothing necessarily wrong with a deep devotion to one's religion. Christians call such people saints, while also recognizing that sainthood (perhaps thankfully) hardly describes most people. Kierkegaard had a lot to say about the impossible position of a man of faith in the contemporary world (his example was Abraham, on the verge of killing Isaac). All of that gets very murky very quickly. So I would be slow to form sweeping judgments about religious schools such as this Muslim one.

What comes across to me in this article is the typical tug that first generation Americans have often felt in the past between the traditions of their homeland and the promise of their new country. How/whether the passage along that path of these Muslim families in the NYC metro area differs from prior immigrants would be an interesting subject. It's too bad that the NYT piece didn't delve a little deeper into the story, and along the way couldn't ditch the PC-ness that colors so much that appears in that paper.

paulfrommpls said...

Jim - are you a ten-year-old who doesn't want to go to church? Hey, I've been there, man.

reader_iam said...

The terrorist attacks that year and subsequent scrutiny on Muslim Americans also sparked an awakening about her own Muslim identity, Mrs. Sherwani said.

Did this jump out at anyone else?

*****

How did this program pass muster as a legitimate alternative with a public school system? Especially at the grade levels referred to and given the consequences of putting off other subjects. Do they really catch up? Do certain sequential building blocks in certain areas of learning get skipped along the way, leaving fundamental holes? If indeed the kids go on to graduate on time, I can't help but think that the answer to the latter question must, of necessity, be "yes" in many cases.

Is it better or worse that, in most cases, the kids don't know the content of what they're memorizing? Which carries more "brain-washing" dangers? Intriguing question--and not so easy to answer.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Guess we just found out what Kevin Barrett's going to be teaching next at Wisconsin.

Smilin' Jack said...

Let's look on the bright side here-a kid who hasn't learned arithmetic isn't likely to learn how to navigate a jet into a building. Would you rather have future terrorists memorizing gibberish...or learning chemistry?

Sydney Carton said...

Richard dolan: "There is nothing necessarily wrong with a deep devotion to one's religion."

There is what that religion is Islam. Devout Muslims are also called fundamentalists, and fundamentalist Muslims are not moderates but are extremists. Frankly, I think the world doesn't need any more Muslim extremists.

Let me be frank: Islamic culture is evil. Instead of Westernizing these children, they're making them more radical. This should be immediately stopped and the kids should probably be sent into a foster home, and their parents investigated. This is serious trouble and I have no sympathy for this activity at all.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: "I picked TS Eliot's "The Waste Land", which does not gain me admittance to heaven, nor anywhere else that I've yet discovered."

But won't it be cool if when you die, it turns out you picked right? "The Waste Land"? Yeah! We love that one. Come in!

The main thing I remember being required to memorize in school was "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" (etc.) from "MacBeth."

RogerA said...

Palladian--the sonnets are good to memorize; also very much worth one's while to memorize is the cavalier poetry of 17th century England--the objects of my affection used to eat that stuff up!

Jim said...

Strange that some posters here don't get the idea of compulsory church attendance for children that is as Amerikan as compulsory circumcision, both forms of mutilation of a child.

As Bill Clinton just said, our big problem in the future is with folks who think they have found the absolute truth here on earth and seek to impose it on others. Including children.

Religious folks don't even understand religion, for Christ's sake. I have yet to meet a Roman Catholic who can explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, for example. But that won't keep him from trying to control some woman's procreation.

And it's curious to read daily about "converts to Islam" among the putative terrorists of Britain. From the point of view of any Protestant, no person is born with or into a religion, so that a person reared a Jew, Muslim or Catholic does not "convert" from anything when he becomes a Christian, a Muslim or anything else. What he does is reject his parents' and his government's attempts at brainwashing, perhaps.

Ann Althouse said...

"BJK said...I just want to know more about the memorization thing. In order to get your friends into heaven, do you have to continue to have that information memorized....or is there some public test at some point and you pass, so you can go on to do something else with your life. How much would it suck to spend 18 years of your life memorizing a passage you can't actually read and or understand only to have part of it overwritten with the theme song to Family Guy by the time you're in your mid-40s."

Well, the solution is obvious. What has been created is a strong interest in dying young. Having no skills for earthly life only drives it home.

Madison Man: Your questions are totally uncalled for as a response to what I wrote. You sound like you've deeply bought into the romanticization of The Third World Other. It's patronizing and offensive, but you don't see that it is, because you live here in Madison where you've acquired the preening self-regard of the soft-hearted lefty. Take another look. It's actually quite disgusting. Put yourself in the position of these children who are being abused. Why don't you care?

Truly said...

quxxo, you rascal! Is that you?

Pogo said...

1. Bring back the melting pot.

2. Close these schools.

3. Forbid posts containing the spelling "Amerika".

Freeman Hunt said...

What about home-schooled kids?

What's wrong with homeschooling? Especially since they outperform their public and private school peers. I may homeschool my children as I have no doubt that I can do a better job than the schools in my area.

This is nuts. I have no problem with this type of memorization being a component of schooling, but all schooling? Does New York not require standardized testing? How do these students pass?

Palladian said...

I guess compulsory church attendance and circumcision is the law in Amerika. I'm glad that here in America it isn't. Jim, move to America! Amerika, wherever that is, sounds like a terrible place!

Ann, the funny thing about memorizing "The Waste Land" is that it's not one of those things you can recite to impress family and friends. I've actually, for fun, started spouting out parts of it at dinner. People think I have Tourette's Syndrome.

The other hard part about memorizing "The Waste Land" is that it's full of obscure words and phrases in Foreign languages. This was quite a struggle at the time, as it was pre-WWW so there was no easy way to look up everything. I felt rather like a non-Arabic speaking child must feel memorizing the Koran.

One of the first things that I remember downloading from the internet, circa 1995, was an audio file of TS Eliot reading "The Waste Land". I was so excited that I now had a pronunciation reference, even though it was about 3 years after the fact. The amazing part is that the site with those files is still online, exactly as it was, and you can still listen to Thomas Stearns mangle those foreign words in his own charming way.

paulfrommpls said...

My advice, Jim, is to pretend your hands are dinosaurs, with the forefinger the neck and head, and stage little play fights to let the time pass more quickly. That was my method. And wait for some old person to fall down during communion. It's rare, but it's always interesting when it does happen!

altoids1306 said...

Dave:

When home-schooled kids start blowing themselves up with plastic explosives packed with poison-soaked nails (the poison makes sure the wound keeps bleeding), I'll start worrying about home-schooled kids. Ditto with intellegent-design kids.

I don't have a problem with kids being filled with nonsense. They watch TV. Parents make dumb choices, kids get shafted, not my problem. I have a problem with kids who are filled with certain types of nonsense which causes them to blow other people up.

MadisonMan said...

I'm sorry Ann, but I don't see abuse. You say this will stunt their minds. Will it? I have a 10-year-old, and all he does is read and re-read books. Different from repeating sounds, yes. But the same repetitive stimulation of neural pathways.

Putting pre-teens in these classes definitely changes what they can do with their lives. However, they are well-fed, apparently nurtured by their parents. How do these children differ from those in other Religious Schools? Or from the Amish?

PatCA said...

This a madrassah in the United States. They are breaking the will of a child, not educating him. How can it be about religion when they can't even understand the words? They're creating future shahids, plain and simple, and the soulless NYT gets to have it both ways: present it as a charming alternative and at the same time alert the red staters to its existence so they can cry foul.

Dave said...

Freeman: I didn't say anything was wrong with homeschooled kids.

What I was trying to say, and perhaps I didn't say it clearly, is: if the assumption is that religious education per se is the problem, then homeschooled kids are (generally) a problem.

I don't necessarily agree that religious education per se is a problem, however, I certainly would agree that the avidity with which these kids seem to be studying their religion is a problem.

Altoids: fair point, as far as it goes.

Ann Althouse said...

Madison Man: “It reads like they are learning sounds -- not the underlying meaning below the sounds -- as the students don't know Arabic. I wonder how this differs from playing an instrument. Here, the instrument is the voice. They've memorized one long and complex piece….”

Music’s value is heard in the sounds. To learn music as sound is different from learning a language as sound! The meaning is there. But, in any case, if you made a child practice playing a musical instrument 9 hours a day instead of the normal school curriculum, it would be abusive. Frankly, a 9 hour school day alone borders on abuse for a young child.

"I'm sorry Ann, but I don't see abuse. You say this will stunt their minds. Will it?"

Oh, for crying out loud.

"I have a 10-year-old, and all he does is read and re-read books. Different from repeating sounds, yes. But the same repetitive stimulation of neural pathways."

For 9 hours a day, to the exclusion of other learning?! You know damned well that's not comparable. And your child understands the language in his books, and he's repeating them out of love and intrinsic enthusiasm, not in a desperate attempt to save his family's eternal souls. It's more like sending a child off to work in a factory all day to feed the family. Except that it's worse.

"Putting pre-teens in these classes definitely changes what they can do with their lives. However, they are well-fed, apparently nurtured by their parents. How do these children differ from those in other Religious Schools? Or from the Amish?"

The Amish don't escape compulsory school laws for the most part. We could talk about Wisconsin v. Yoder, but that was a case involving taking the children out after they had achieved basic education. I think letting people stunt their kids based on religious belief is wrong. It may be hard to draw a legal line between what they should be allowed to do (including teaching that their religious beliefs are true) and what they shouldn't be allowed to do (such as sacrifice them in a ritual), but there is a line, and having them do rote memorization 9 hours a day instead of learn academic basics as required uniformly for other children is on the wrong side of the line. Your celebration of diversity is blinding you, and real children are being overlooked as you indulge in sentimental mush and ludicrous analogies. I'm virtually positive you'd be singing a different tune if Christians were doing something equivalent.

Paul Zrimsek said...

For God's sake let's not anyone tell Jim about the compulsory bedtime or the compulsory spinach.

Impchucker said...

This is surely against the law. In Texas, we have some of the most lenient education laws in the country, which is part of the reason homeschooling thrives here. But students must nonetheless receive instruction in reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship (i.e., social studies) in any home or private school. New York laws are considerably more stringent than that.

Incidentally, I have homeschooled my two children their entire lives, without any negative effects on them or on society, as far as I can see. My elder daughter is now studying computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. My younger daughter, who is 14, will be sitting in on University courses on ancient history, chemistry, and the history of music, while also studying English, Geometry, and fourth-year Latin at home. Oh, and she'll be taking piano and voice lessons, as well as singing in a Christian rock band and in our church choir. This December she'll be performing Bach's Christmas Oratorio in our Baroque Festival; she's been singing in that festival since she was ten, performing works by Charpentier, Handel, Mozart, and Vivaldi.

Christian homeschooling, in short, is nothing like what this article describes.

Dave said...

Ann, what do you mean when you say, "To learn music as sound is different from learning a language as sound!"

How do you learn a language other than by hearing it spoken by others? You can read all you want but there's more to language than the ability to read it. Else illiterates would be mutes as well.

Lyn said...

Good analysis. Education in the US should be substantially the same despite the differences in local district requirements. This is way out of line by any standard. Hat tipped you at Bloggin' Outloud.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says: "Frankly, a 9 hour school day alone borders on abuse for a young child."

In NYC one of the most sought-after public "charter" schools is Shuang Wen Academy, where the school day (beginning I think as early as kindergarten) runs from 8:30 to 5:30. Shuang Wen Academy is the Chinese language/culture charter school. Most of the instruction during the "regular" school day is in English, with intensive instruction in Chinese for 3 hours afterwards. And don't forget the homework.

The school is popular not only with Chinese-Americans and Americans who have adopted kids from China, but also with African-American parents looking for a rigorous public school. I am told that Rubert Murdoch's kid also attends.

My wife and I weren't interested in sending our kids to the school, in part because we think the long school day is just too much. But it's not "abusive." And the parents we know who send their kids there are far from insensitive single-minded strivers that are "abusing" thier kids by driving them too hard. The kids seem to like it, and as far as I can tell, have benefitted quite a bit from attending.

I don't disagree with your point about the need for line drawing or your conclusion that 9 hours spent exclusively memorizing the Koran is on the wrong side of any reasonable line defining what is acceptable in terms of educating kids. But your argument with Madison Man is causing you to get a little carried away here.

P. T. Fogger said...

Well, Pogo beat me to it, but:

I stop paying attention to any given post when I encounter spellings like "Amerika". Or for that matter, "Dim-ocrat" or "Rethuglican".

sheesh.

MadisonMan said...

I think the vital point is : do these children graduate from high school at a serious disadvantage to others? Is there evidence that they do? I haven't seen any. The Amish can suspend education after achieving basic knowledge -- how is that fundamentally different from suspending/delaying (I'm not sure if these boys start school and then go memorize, or not) education if children end up with the same basic knowledge as their cohorts?

The comparison to factory work is clumsy at best. These children are not dying in factories. They are in apparently loving families. They are expected to do well. They have a goal. Excellent motivation to succeed. It'll even help them after they've memorized it all.

How would I react if this were a story about Christians? We'll never know. This is only in the news because the children are learning the Koran. But your first assumption is likely wrong.

Dave said...

Rethuglican?

That's a new one.

Ha.

George said...

When I lived in Saudi Arabia some years ago, an evening quiz show on TV (on one of only two government-run and controlled channels) featured little boys reciting Qu'ranic verses for an aged iman, with the boy doing the best job getting a prize.

Another TV show was the five times a day prayer service from Mecca.

My parents (Americans) attended secret Sunday church services. Of course, if they'd been discovered, their company would have been politely told by the MInistry of the Interior to cool it. Had my parents been, say, Philipino or Korean Christians, they probably would have been roughed up, imprisoned, flogged, or deported or some combination of the above.

Only by living in a xenophobic wasteland like Saudi Arabia (Riyadh, to be precise) can you truly understand the roots of Islamic fascism and terrorism.

Freeman Hunt said...

This is only in the news because the children are learning the Koran.

Do you think that the NYT would pass up a story about a Christian school that only taught memorization of the New Testament in Greek?

I think not. I also think that the article would likely have a different tone.

Steven said...

How do these children differ from those in other Religious Schools?

Well, for one thing, kids in other "Religious Schools" usually learn things like multiplication tables, and other actual, you know, education. Even the forms of yeshiva in Israel that don't include secular education involve learning what the text actually means and performance of textual analysis, which is more than these kids are getting.

Jeff Medcalf said...

Fundamentally, the education of children is the job of their parents, who theoretically have their best interests at heart. Government's interest in children's education is secondary: it's nice to have an educated society. But it's not the government's job to shape society, only to provide a safe realm in which society can, through the actions of its individual members, shape itself.

As regards this particular incident, apparently the parents have decided that the best thing for their children is to have them memorize their basic religious text. It does not matter whether any of us think that this is best for their children. Or do you think that it's OK for these misguided (my opinion) parents to decide how you raise and educate your children?

That said, there is a duty to comply with the law, and if the state's schooling laws are not being followed (which sounds likely), then there is a legal issue that should be resolved.

One final thought: it's not very likely that these kids will grow up to be terrorists, because most Muslim kids don't grow up to be terrorists, and it is apparently not generally those who are religious when young who are the problem, but those who find their adult meaning in Islam who tend to be more likely to become terrorists. If they do become terrorists, then toss them out of an airplane without a parachute. But it's the height of hubris — or maybe just unreasoning dread — to think that you have the key to religion for other people.

dperry said...

Madison Man;

Children raised in fundamentalist schools, or Amish schools, or Orthodox Jewish schools, do not have a habit of blowing things up when they become adults. Children raised in extremist Muslim schools do. THAT is the difference.

Impchucker: Not to mention, of course, that not all homeschooling is for religious reasons.

Paul Zrimzeck: Not to mention, the compulsory moving to another state when your parent(s) get another job, the compulsory wearing of certain kinds of clothes (at least when you're younger), the compulsory instruction in certain kinds of values. . .heck, the compulsory atheism, if you're one of Jim's kids, anyway. If we're going to get rid of everything parents make kids do, there won't be much parenting left.

TallDave said...

I can just imagine the shrieks of outrage if a Christian school had students doing nothing but memorize the Bible for NINE HOURS A DAY.

Under Clinton, Janet Reno would have incinerated them.

Nine. Hours. A. Day. The mind boggles.

Areti said...

Different approach, different state.

I can't say I approve of the education the kids are getting. However, the question of who is allowed to decide what is necessary for the kid is a good question. What are homeschooling/private schooling requirements in NY? Substantial equivalent seems to prohibit.

In other states, there is substantial presumption that the parent chooses the schooling, and the state is not really permitted to interfere. Most notably for me, Texas.
http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/Texas.pdf

Gibbie the labrat said...

Maybe we are missing something; I would think religious schools devoted to the Koran would teach the native language of teh original text and how the text relates to life in a philosophical manner. I just don't get the point of 9 hours a day in a language they dont even understand. Yeah, future bombers in the making for sure.

Jeffus said...

Several have commented on yeshivas and private Jewish schools teaching the Talmud. There is no comparison between these practices and the non-stop memorization of the Koran to the exclusion of all else.

My wife (a gentile as am I) taught science and math at a Lubavitcher school. As I remember it, half of the day was traditional instruction, the rest on Hebrew and religious studies.

She was allowed and encouraged to teach evolution and other controversial topics because the rest of the day was devoted to religion anyway. Most of the parents were scientists.

Henry said...

Palladian -- You memorized The Waste Land? I would have picked something by Emily Dickinson myself. Or a sonnet of some kind. 14 lines and out.

Strabo the Lesser said...

A comparison with a Yeshiva school misses the point. Yeshiva study primarily involves reading and analyzing moral delimnas and disparate views of great minds over the centuries. The typical Yeshiva student will graduate highly fluent in three languages with an intense education in philosophy and critical textual analysis. Most will have also learned a great deal of math although possibly not as advanced in science due to the lack of advanced facilities. The best Yeshivas are probably as good an education as anywhere in the world.

Channon said...

Children raised in fundamentalist schools, or Amish schools, or Orthodox Jewish schools, do not have a habit of blowing things up when they become adults.

exactly.

From personal experience, I attended a Christian grade school until the 8th grade, then entered a public high school. My elementary education was far superior to that of my peers, particularly in the sciences. I would say we spent, on average, an hour a day on Bible studies.

tjl said...

Jeff Medcalf characterizes it as "unreasoning dread" if anyone thinks 9 hours a day of Koran memorization is not a valid educational scheme. It's up to their parents to choose, he says, and "It does not matter whether any of us think that this is best for their children."

Society will have to cope, in some fashion, with these children when they grow into adults who can't read, write, or do simple math. They won't be able to support themselves or master the basic skills needed for daily life. Most may not become terrorists but all will be useless drones resentful of a world they can't understand or participate in.

It matters very much, Jeff, that parents should not be free to choose this for their children.

Ann said...

TJL: Well said; I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Madisonman: Memorizing the Bible in Aramaic would be quite a feat considering that it would first require translating the Hebrew Old Testament and then the Greek New Testament into Aramaic.

I'm not going to hold my breath for a similar softball piece on Christian schools or homeschoolers.

Ann Althouse said...

"The Amish can suspend education after achieving basic knowledge -- how is that fundamentally different from suspending/delaying (I'm not sure if these boys start school and then go memorize, or not) education if children end up with the same basic knowledge as their cohorts?"

The difference is that they are subjected to the same compulsory schooling law as everyone else in the basic schooling years. By your lights, I could follow a religion that required my kids to do manual labor or housework until they are 15 as long was they could manage to study up and pass a high school equivalency test by age 18.

Let's remember that society as a whole needs productive citizens, and a democracy requires some basic literacy and judgment.

Mary Martha said...

"I have yet to meet a Roman Catholic who can explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, for example."

Because you are of course the ultimate judge of whether or not they are explaining it correctly.


I resented that I had to take Latin in school (and that one has actually paid off on occasion). Just think of how mad these kids are going to be when they look back as adults at the three years spent learning how to recite something that they don't understand.

Mr. Snitch said...

"This is exactly how terrorists are made - grab them when they're children, and fill their heads with the ideology of hatred."

Sometimes the result is hatred of what you were taught, and those who taught you.

madawaskan said...

This quote from the article-

Sameer Uddin, 13, says he sometimes misses the public school he attended before he began memorizing a year and a half ago. He could wear whatever clothes he wanted. He also liked math. His parents said he could quit if he wanted to, “but I already started,” he said.

And, he added, “I want to take my parents to heaven.”


Depressing.

Madison Man-

as for your music analogy kids actually grow up and get scholarships to colleges based on learning music. Heck they can even get jobs with orchestras were audiences essentially will pay to hear them.

I don't think there is a critical mass of people in the United States who are going to pay to hear the Koran being recited.

Picking on the Amish whilst on the internet that's just sad....

Brave too-you are really going to catch it when all of the Amish internet users read your post.

troy99 said...

I can't believe we are at 70+ comments and still no Pink Floyd reference. Hey Teacher.......

growler said...

These schools are breaking many NY State laws. Such as:

13. Which tests are nonpublic schools required to administer?
All schools in New York State must administer Pupil Evaluation Program (PEP) tests and Program Evaluation Tests (PET).
PEP:
3rd grade reading and mathematics
5th grade writing
6th grade reading and mathematics PET:
4th grade science
6th grade social studies
8th grade social studies
Also, schools must administer Preliminary Competency Tests to pupils in reading and writing in 8th or 9th grades or use other acceptable measures to assure that their pupils meet the standards of the Regents Competency Testing Program.
In addition, Regents Competency Tests or their equivalent must be administered in the following subjects before the end of grade 12:
reading,
writing,
mathematics,
science,
global studies, and
United States history and government.

16. Must a nonpublic school have a physical education program?
Yes. A nonpublic school is required to provide a physical education program which is similar to that offered in the public school for each pupil.

24. What subjects must be taught in nonpublic schools?
In grades 1-6 the following subjects must be taught:


arithmetic
English language
reading
spelling
writing
music geography
health education
physical education
science
United States history
New York State history
visual arts
In grades 7 and 8 the following subjects must be taught:

English
social studies
science
mathematics
hysical education
health education New York State history
visual arts
music
practical arts
technology education
home and career skills
library and information skills
A high school four-year course of study must include the following units of work or their equivalent:
English - 4 units
social studies, including a year of American history - 4 units
mathematics - 2 units
science - 2 units
health - 1/2 unit
physical education
art and/or music - 1 unit.
In addition to the preceding, instruction must be provided in:
physical education and kindred subjects
alcohol, drug, and tobacco abuse
highway safety and traffic regulation, bicycle safety
school safety patrol
fire drills
arson and fire prevention.

source http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/nonpub/guidelinesEquivofInstruction.htm

PhyAimless said...

Jeff Medcalf posted the comment I'd intended to write myself, but I'd like to second his opinion.

Frankly, this interest in the education of others' children, and the instinct to meddle, is unhealthy, and precisely what is wrong in the first place. Setting aside the question of "what if they're right?" we must still ask ourselves why it matters that they are wrong.

I've only seen two valid opinions expressed towards that end: that such schooling is abusive, and that foregoing a standard schooling practice is somehow permanently impair the child's ability to function later on in life. Discarded is the idea that such indoctrination is leading to a future carreer as a terrorist - while, if true, such indoctrination would indeed be criminal, there is no evidence here that that is what is happening.

In terms of the abusiveness of such a practice, it is extremely difficult to argue that it is any more abusive than any other practice in which children are forced to spend hours each day exercising the brain. Rote memorization (sadly) is the primary component of our public schooling system these days. Although the ultimate utility may vary, there is no qualitative difference between forcing a kid to memorize the Koran and forcing them to memorize their multiplication tables; furthermore, judging by my experience dealing with students at the college level, the underlying understanding of the material is identical - ie, non-existent.

Perhaps the hours are abusive, but that is a hard argument to make. Why is nine hours of schooling abuse and seven hours not?

As for the second part, taking time out from standard school to memorize the Koran somehow hurts the child's potential for future success, that argument is even weaker.

First and foremost, a diploma from any public high school in America isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I should know - it's been my job for the last several years to attempt to impart instruction in Physics to students who have no concept of the basic tenets of Algebra, let alone the Calculus required to make the subject make sense. Since these same students must have graduated high school (indeed, done well at high-school, or they wouldn't have made it into college), and I know of no high school that doesn't require Algebra as part of it curriculum, I can only conclude that somehow these students managed to pass the course without learning anything at all. Granted, this is hyperbole from me - by no means are all of my students this bad - but it serves to illustrate my point. The US public education system ranks almost dead last against the rest of the developed world; missing a couple of years of it can't make things much worse, and as homeschools are consistently proving might very well make things better.

As things stand, elementary school is used primarily as a free daycare system by working parents; the curriculum is quite worthless. With one exception, the entirety of it could be compressed into a single year taught sometime around the age of 11-12 with no major difficulties. The one exception is literacy, which should be the responsibility of the parents to begin with, but can easily be offered through specialized classes prior to entering school.

Therefore, I find nothing particularly wrong with parents choosing to subject their children to an only slightly different (and arguably more difficult) form of daycare. At the very least, learning the Koran in that manner is bound to improve those kids' memory; a resource I find far more useful than whatever it was I never learned in Elementary.

So, don't concern yourselves with what other people choose for their children's education. Some choices are bound to be poor, sure, but it is not your (nor the government's) responsibility to protect other people from themselves (or, except in extreme cases of genuine abuse, their parents). It is meddling like this, and the self-assured knowledge that it is your side that is correct, that leads to things like the mandating of ID in public schools. The smartest solution is always the same; allow as many choices as possible, choose the best for yourself, and don't worry about what other people choose. One size does not fit all.

As a personal aside, I intend to do something even worse with my own children when it comes time for their education - I intend to do nothing at all. No school, no homeschooling, no tests, no grades, nothing. I expect my children, like I was, to be instatiably curious and to pick things up on their own. If they ask me questions I'll answer them (or, better yet, show them how to answer them themselves). If, when they reach roughly high school age, it becomes apparent that they lack in any specific area, I'll address it (expecting that by then they'll be mature enough for studying to make sense), but not before hand.

Harkonnendog said...

Memorizing SOUNDS??!??!??!

WTF!?!

Wouldn't it be easier to teach them Arabic?!?

AST said...

These are brainwashing methods. No wonder so many Muslims sound like they've been brainwashed.

A Somali caller to Michael Medved's program yesterday is a case in point. He's lived here for 12 years and says he loves America, but he still thinks that America wants to destroy Islam. When asked why, he could give no reasons for his belief, only repetitions of his basic article of faith.

It made me realize how uncritical many Muslims are about their attitudes. They are taught never to criticize other Muslims and that anyone who declares that God is the Greatest and Mohammed is his prophet is a Muslim. Therefore, it would be a sin to criticize the terrorists openly in front of all us infidels. That would harm Islam. They probably learned to think like this through similar "learning" techniques to what these boys are undergoing.

Finn Kristiansen said...

My main question about all of this is: After one has spent three years memorizing 6,000 verses or so, and with little else in the way of instruction, what is then built on this foundation?

One can understand the familial excitement over the child reaching hafiz, and certainly memorization skills are important. It's possible that the memorization skills they learned can be a huge asset in helping them concentrate on broader educational pursuits. Once can see this as a temporary "time out", like Mormon missions. Such a break from standard education is not necessarily bad.

But what DO they actually pursue and study after this?

Having learned the text, does it then make them predestined to spend the following years finding the meaning of what they have just learned? Will they end up under the sway of some local radical religious leader, instead of going to say, Stuyvesant High School or (LaGuardia) School of the Arts?

And finally, there is Islam itself. We worry about things like this because, while a ridiculously small number of Moslems are terrorists, a ridiculously large number of terrorists are Moslems.
One really can't imagine an Amish, Orthodox, or Christian child growing up to do the acts commited by some Islamic extremists.

I am less concerned about Christian, Orthodox, or Amish kids sitting memorizing or learning scripture (and in a manner that complies with state education law), and for obvious reasons:

When I see a bunch of Hasidim taking down a plane with liquid explosives in their yarmulkas ("This one is for Moses, brothers"), or a group of Born Again Christians sneaking into Damascus with their Bibles to "take Assad out" ("Uhm, what would Jesus do, car bomb or sniper"), then I will start to worry about those groups too.

Icepick said...

Ann wrote: And how "difficult" can it be to detect schools that are completely out of line?

Jeff wrote: If only there was some sort of informational resource where questions like this could be asked and the reported thru such a resource.

Reader_Iam wrote: How did this program pass muster as a legitimate alternative with a public school system?

Icepick responds: The public school system is badly broken. Why is it a surprise that the NYC system fails to identify this kind problem?

The Drill Sgt. wrote: I bet the state and city have completely punted on their obligations to these kids out of PC'ness.

Sarge (Is that correct terminology? Should we call you Gunny? Or just "Sir!"), I believe that you are attributing to ideaology something more easily explained by incompetence.

Smilin' Jack wrote: Let's look on the bright side here-a kid who hasn't learned arithmetic isn't likely to learn how to navigate a jet into a building. No, but most of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were merely there as muscle to keep people in line. That way the few that knew the difficult stuff were free to pull off the coup d'grace.

Jim said...

Some posters here seem blinded by their own religions and parochial preconceptions just as much as the fundamentalist Muslims they appear to attack. What part of “compulsion” in making your sweet innocent kid attend Amerikan public school and church services and submit to screaming circumcision don’t they understand? (“The mohel sticks the WHAT in his WHAT?”)

Mary Martha is illustrative of the problem. She doesn’t think it important that a Roman Catholic understand the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, invented by a pope some 150 years ago and, as dogma, not subject to dispute if you want to meet Mother F. Teresa heaven. Just as Mary Martha’s Latin now fails her, her common sense does too: she laments that the kids memorizing the Koran will look back on the years spent as totally wasted, since they didn’t understand the words, without realizing that the Hail Mary (and the Angelus), recited every night on the radio ad nauseam and thrice daily by many Catholics, Anglicans and even Lutherans, is done by rote memorization and not understood, since the words “full of grace” are a direct reference to the Immaculate Conception, and, if they aren’t that, what the hell does Mary Martha (what a name!) think they mean?

Amerikans love reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner without having the slightest idea of what all those strange words, like “witches' stands” mean. The idea here, as in memorizing the Koran, is not to understand the words, but to fill your eyes so full of emotional tears that you fail to see straight and continue to support George Bush.

“… one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all…” must, of course, be seen as self-contradictory in modern Amerika. It’s just that religious folks, whether evangelical, catholic or muslim, don’t get the joke! Let’s all hope things change a lot once Bin Laden takes over!

Finn Kristiansen said...

PhyAimless said...

As a personal aside, I intend to do something even worse with my own children when it comes time for their education - I intend to do nothing at all. No school, no homeschooling, no tests, no grades, nothing. I expect my children, like I was, to be instatiably curious and to pick things up on their own.


Ah, the California dreaming of libertarians (who, in their idealized world, are like communists forever persuing the impossible ideal, not realizing that people left to their own devices are not so rational, and will invariably spill into your village and mess things up).

I think I was insatiably curious about matchbox cars and comics when I was kid, and pooping and my sippy cup as a toddler, non of which have served me well in my current job. A public school system in NYC did get a hold of me, teaching me a few things, with any shortcomings (in status or jobs) being of my own doing.

Phyaimless in his lengthy assertions, ignores his own advice to beware of "self-assured knowledge." His ability to assert exceeds his ability to prove.

Troy said...

Somone earlier equated homeschooling with this type of Koranic schooling. I can't remember who that was, but it is an idiotic comparison.

Be of good cheer -- No Child Left Behind will save these children when they fail the standardized test. [smirk]

AlaskaJack said...

I'm sorry, but I just can't get too excited over this story. If someone were to asked me whether these kids after two years of memorization are worse off than some poor inner city kid who suffered through 12 years of inner city public schools, I'm not sure I could answer him.

tjl's point is well taken. But in most cases it is not the parents who are at fault. In too many public schools it is the government that is making choices in favor of ignorance.

PhyAimless said...

Finn Kristiansen said...

"Phyaimless in his lengthy assertions, ignores his own advice to beware of "self-assured knowledge." His ability to assert exceeds his ability to prove."

Touche. But, at least my assertion is "leave it alone."

As for the substantive comment, I think you underestimate your younger self, and over-estimate the school system. I would challenge you to think back to your elementary years, and come up with a specific example of something you were taught that you did not already know. For myself, I can come up only with one - I had not yet puzzled out on my own how to carry digits during a subtraction before the subject came up in class. As for the rest, the major accomplishment of school was that it made me hate learning; it took me several years after high school (and an abortive first attempt at college) to re-learn how to learn.

WYG♦ said...

Well, I am Muslim, but I do disagree with what these parents are doing. Children should always get their education, and I go to school and have my lessons (I only have to read and not memorize) twice a week.

Some of the comments on this blog are really hurtful. They really do poke fun at the religion of Islam, especially the person who called Islamic culture "evil"!

Excuse me, but who gave you the right to make such stupid comments?

Dr. Melissa said...

The content of the memorization doesn't matter. The children are told what the memorized texts mean--and not literally. The meta-message is 1)Obey all authority no matter how crazy the demands 2)Entrance into heaven has specific, arcane requirments 3)Boys who do memorize the Koran are "special" and "better" than other children 4)Being a part of society is for those who are "weak".

The kids are filled with envy at what they miss. Rather than turn their resentment at their authority figures--who wants to piss off God--they hate society. They don't have to be taught to hate. It just happens.

Seven Machos said...

Who invited all these weirdos to the normally civil, rational debate?

Damn that Instapundit!

thexytheowee said...

Sydney Carton @ 10:40 AM, August 16, 2006: Let me be frank: Islamic culture is evil. Instead of Westernizing these children, they're making them more radical. This should be immediately stopped and the kids should probably be sent into a foster home, and their parents investigated. This is serious trouble and I have no sympathy for this activity at all.
*************

You know, I drop in on this blog every now and then ... so there may be history between Madison Man and Ann Althouse, or perhaps Mr. Carton is often ignored. Unless there is some such history, I find Ms. Althouse's challenges to Madison Man's comments in stark contrast to her silence of Mr. Carton's comment inexplicable.

While no blogger has a responsibility to either distance or embrace every comment, this disparate treatment in the comment section of the same post is hard to ignore. Ms. Althouse is quick to point out that Madison Man's comments "are totally uncalled for in regard to [her] post" yet Mr. Carlton's comments which are quite egregious and not reasonably responsive to the post (or at least more unresponsive than Madison Man's comments) just seems personal rather than rational (and at the least, an over reaction).

I never really saw this blog as predictably one-sided, but maybe I've been out of it.

NB (apparently disclosure of one's "leanings" is necessary around here): I think the education described in the NYT via this post must meet all of the requirements of state law; I find Madrassas as a sole or predominant source of education of concern in any culture; I find Madison Man's comments odd, but not totally outside of the realm of normal discourse; I do not believe in the inevitability of the outcome that these/or some/or one child will become a terrorist because of this education; I do believe in the inevitability of the outcome that all of these children will become uneducated if this is the sole education they receive; I am not qualified to pass on the neurological effect of learning sounds without knowledge of the meaning vs. learning sounds with comprehension of the meaning (although this is one of the most interesting ideas raised, imo) -- this deals with acquisition of language, linguistics, the science of cognition & even philosphy); I agree with Ms. Althouse that 9 hours of recitation is pretty much a bad idea under any scenario (although I am not sure that it qualifies, without more evidence, of "child abuse" based solely on the evidence given); I do believe that extremism in the Middle East is a very real threat; I disagree in total with Mr. Carlton's inane and inflammatory comments regarding Islamic culture.

RebeccaH said...

How can a child who grows up without a practical, everyday education, be whatever he wants to be? I'm with those who think he will grow up to be a nutball suicide bomber. It isn't a matter of hatred. It's a matter of a boy driven by frustration that he has no other future.

Joe Y said...

It never stops, does it?

Dolan says: “First, it is important to recognize that other religious groups in NYC operate school systems that outsiders are likely to view quite skeptically. I have in mind the orthodox yeshivas run by some of the Hasidic sects, where the curriculum is heavily weighted towards the study of Torah, often with an emphasis on the commentary by former leading rabbis of that sect. Unlike this Muslim school, I have no reason to doubt that the yeshivas comply with state requirements. But they are similar to this Muslim school in their focus on teaching religion to an extent that outsiders might regard as fanatical, and on the goal of maintaining a carefully maintained social/ethnic separation from the main currents of American society.”

The point of AA’s post is that Muslim students are not following NYS education laws in a way that would be unacceptable in other religions, not that “outsider’s view it skeptically,” that it they study religion, or that they are outside the mainstream. Dolan’s point is that while the Jews do not do anything that AA is condemning, they are just as bad, because they are …

Dave says: “Also, I would note that some Orthodox Jews make a practice of memorizing arcane texts such as the Talmud, to the practical exclusion of anything else.” (The word arcane is preposterous, since the Talmud is a major part of the dominant structure within which they lead their lives, hardly arcane to them.)

So once again, even though, unlike the Muslim students in question, the Jews are following the law, understand the language(s) they are reading, and using it as the practical basis for their lives, they are just as bad, because they are …

I’m sorry we have to welcome the Amish to the club, though.

On another note, it is futile to attempt to a serious discussion with someone who cannot comprehend the difference between memorizing the transliterated syllables of an unknown language and reading a book in a language one understands or learning to play or sing music.

Abraham said...

Excuse me, but who gave you the right to make such stupid comments?

I can't believe that anyone could seriously ask that question of an American. Let me ask YOU: Who gave YOU the right to ask such an idiotic question?

Pogo said...

There is an undeniable connection between Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, achieved by ME mullahs indoctrinating young people into a poisonous worldview.

That may wildly distort the religion itself, but this process is the main face of Islam now available to the West. This should be of serious concern to non-violent followers of Islam, and their gripe is not with our view but with the terrorists.

Is it any surprise US citizens in New York see little terrorists being raised in such a school? How foolish do you think we are?

Jim said...

Imagine yourself a Normal College-Educated Certified and Insured Republican Evangelical Family-Oriented Heterosexual Married Amerikan Breeder with Tenure who lives in Suburbia and drives a Chevrolet Subdivision SUV. Along comes this regime that requires you, under penalty of law, or encourages you, by imposing punishing taxes, to:

Have a beer with your lunch in Podunk, Texas.
Forgo insurance and helmets when you bike or drive.
Send your kids to private school.
Put up with Voodoo chants that open every session of Congress and your local city council.
Participate regularly in the state lottery and gamble from time to time on the Internet.
Live single or in an SSM.
Pass your inheritance to a total stranger when you die.
Either travel overseas for good sex or pay for it domestically.
Pass by a display of the Koran on your Texas Capitol grounds or a Swastika over San Diego, every day.
Defer to a stranger for your emergency medical proxy.
Register as a Religious Offender where you live, and register with the police whenever you move or travel.
Keep weapons and learn how to use them.
Invite only non-family foreigners to visit you or join with your “family.”
Teach your kids to take candy only from “strangers.”
Mistrust every breeder or priest, cop or other person wearing a frock or uniform.


How much of this would you take before you became a terrorist? Sam Adams, our very first Terrorist, and I would say, “Not much.” There are a lot of folks out here hoping for the downfall of Amerika as we know it apart from mere Muslims, and some of us are Amerikan-trained nuclear physicists!

Does anyone read Thomas Paine anymore?

Dawn said...


Dawn: The article doesn't establish that they are being filled with hatred. It does, however, show that their minds are being stunted, used for a task that displaces learning that could be used in an individual way. This deprivation may be more shocking than teaching bad facts and theories.


Ann: This is what I was driving at, but you said it better than I did. Thanks!

tjl: Exactly.

Pogo said...

Jim,

Didn't they take away your internet privileges after they auctioned off your shack, tools, and few remaining books?

Joe Y said...

Jim: We read Paine, but we just like making the sounds; not to bother understanding what he says. What’s the dif?

Ann Althouse said...

thexytheowee: "You know, I drop in on this blog every now and then ... so there may be history between Madison Man and Ann Althouse, or perhaps Mr. Carton is often ignored. Unless there is some such history, I find Ms. Althouse's challenges to Madison Man's comments in stark contrast to her silence of Mr. Carton's comment inexplicable."

There's a very simple explanation: Madison Man is a regular commenter whom I respect. He's someone I engage with in the comments. I don't respond to everyone in the comments, especially not someone who seemed to just stop in to troll. Or are you a troll too, thexytheowee? You think I should spend my time scolding and monitoring? There are hundreds of comments a day here.

J. Random American said...

First of all, this is really a discussion about two completely separate things. One is whether the the government, and at what level, can tell you how your children should be educated. The second is whether the law applies equally to all people. If we decide that the government has no business telling anyone how to educate their children, then I'm good with that. If we decide that the government can set reasonable standards and then go about trying to define them, then I'd be okay with that as long as it was taking place on a local or maybe state level. Federal education guidelines bother me. What I would really not be okay with is having the government require a set of standards that MOST people have to educate their kids to, but allow certain other privileged groups to be exempt from the law. Whether or not we are destroying the rule of law to accommodate multiculturalism is a completely separate debate than what the law should be.

Secondly, and most importantly, I have just figured out how to win the war against radical Islam! Everybody is talking about how we need a Muslim Martin Luthor to reform Islam and wondering how long and bloody such an Islamic Reformation might be. Screw that. We don't need an Islamic reformation to destroy radical Islam. We just need a Berlitz Koran-on-tape learning program. Think about it. This Koran memorization is a complete get-out-of-jail-free card for Islam and then 10 more that they can hand out to friends and family. That's probably why these Westernized moms are pushing their kids to do it; so that they don't have to wear the hijab or otherwise give up their 'decadent' lifestyle but can get in to heaven anyway.

A Muslim kid who knew he could get into heaven and bring 10 other people with him would not be more likely to be a suicide bomber, he'd be much less likely! If some radical Imam promised him a free trip to paradise if he blew himself up in a pizza parlor he could just tell the old geezer "Stuff it, I've already got a free pass to paradise. Oh, and I’m not gonna be at services this Friday because Hooters is having a wet T-shirt contest. What're ya gonna do? I already know I'm going to heaven? Maybe I’ll offer the winner a free trip there too if she’ll put out…" All we need to do is to get at least 10% of the Muslim world to memorize the Koran and the religion would lose all its fire and brimstone. Who would blow themselves to smithereens for only one free pass to paradise if you can order the "Learn the Koran in 6 months or your money back" CD set from Amazon and get eleven?

madawaskan said...

WYG-

I understand your pain somewhat-I know Muslims who are integral to the national security and it pains me greatly the stress and conflict that they are subjected to-I see the strain in their faces.

All I can say is hang in there and I know what you are talking about.

Molon_Labe_Lamp said...

Suppose I created an algorithm that randomly assembled greek characters in to wordlike clusters. I then had young boys memorize this output for 9 hours a day for three years. Does anybody doubt I'd be roundly criticiszed as egomanical child abuser and swiftly shutdown?

To the few defenders here, how would this be any different then what these boys are being subjected to?

Freeman Hunt said...

I'm surprised that they're not teaching them Arabic while they do this. Even if only one hour of the nine was devoted to Arabic language learning, the kids would know Arabic pretty well by the end of two or three years.

Xavier said...

Jim,

I can't speak to whether Anglicans speak the Hail Mary, but I can tell you that in all my years as a Lutheran I've never heard it recited at any sort of Lutheran event. Maybe you should do some research, like say actually talking to Lutherans and Catholics? I know plenty of Catholics who understand the Immaculate Conception; it is Protestants who tend to think it refers to the Virgin Birth.

Regardless, the fact that you don't like Catholicism for some reason bears little on the above debate.

As for me, I tend to sympathize with those who have been arguing against compulsory education by the state. The primary purpose of compulsory education, it seems to me, is to produce docile citizens, not to produce productive members of society. There are a raft of first amendment issues at stake here: should the government have the power to madate a certain form of education for all its citizens, while banning others?

Granted, I still will be educating my kids, and think the madrassah education foolish, if not something that should be banned.

John B. Chilton said...

No problem as long as an adult they accept the consequences of their parents' choices.

Jim said...

OK Xavier,

I'll put you down for speaking for all Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German and Amerikan Lutherans, but we can still do a side bet on what percentage of Roman Catholics can explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. You will lose!

I do agree with your sentiments on compulsory miseducation in Amerika, however. But what is it that makes your kids *your* kids, if the gummint can ban certain educational processes or topics arbitrarily? Remember, as long as I am taxed to miseducate *your* kids, I will vote to either eliminate the taxation or any vestiges of "education"!

Jim said...

Oh, Xavier,

While you're fixing the references to the Angelus among Lutherans in Wikipedia, fix that erroneous stuff at The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod-- Christian Cyclopedia

Lutherans really need to get out more, as Garrison Keillor would say.

Jim










The Angelus is a devotion in memory of the Incarnation. It has its name from the opening words, Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ. It consists of three texts describing the mystery, recited as versicle and response alternately with the salutation "Hail, Mary!" This devotion is recited in Roman Catholic, in Anglo-Catholic and some Lutheran churches three times daily, about 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m.. At these hours a bell known as the Angelus bell is rung. This is still rung in some English country churches, and has often been mistaken for and alleged to be a survival of the curfew bell.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim said...

Freeman,

So what? Can you list the two or three Catholics who know this (no fair listing the pope)? Do you agree or not that RCs don't have a clue about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception? Let's make a side bet!

You know as well as I do that there is a difference between ex cathedra and other pronouncements of popes. Why don't you use your ink to illuminate the mysteries of the RC church? Do we have to wait for DaVinci Code II?

Seven Machos said...

I love guys like Jim. Thinks he's totally normal and sane. Then, he goes out into the world to test his theories and ends up looking completely and totally bat-shit crazy. But, of course, he doesn't realize it at all.

That's the best part about being crazy, I think. Self-awareness is completely overrated.

Jim said...

Seven Machos,

I'm not sane, I agree. But I really am a nuclear physicist and rocket engineer!

Joan said...

Excuse me, but who gave you the right to make such stupid comments?

While I had the same reaction as Abraham, above, I realized that the question was asked in all sincerity. I think it likely that what we have on our hands here is a product of the failing American school system, in which case, an informative answer is required, to whit:

Americans are granted the right to make stupid comments, and to say whatever else they might please (within limits, no "Fire!" in crowded buildings), by the First Amendment to the Constitution. It's important; if you're not familiar with it, you should look it up.

Jim: it's true that most Roman Catholics are poorly educated in their faiths. I don't know why you're harping on it, though. I'd think it would make you happy that they weren't wasting their time on it. Here's a link for the curious.

Nahanni said...

It is simple, Ann...

The "progressives" will eagerly turn a blind eye to anything the Islamists do because of their BDS.

Bush and most Americans are Christians therefore must be stifled at all costs, derided, denied rights, etc.

Islamists on the other hand are their partners nihilism so anything and everything they do. The BDS addled "progressives" embrace and say that we must all accept anything the Islamists do or say in the name of "moral relevance" and "multiculturalism".

The "progressives" go to court to stop christian kids from praying, wearing religious symbols or mentioning God in school yet demand that school districts give Islamists prayer rooms and allow buqqas and hijabs.

The "progressives" sue year after year to take any reference to Christ out of Christmas in any public venue yet demand that we have public Moslem holidays.

They demand that no one mention or teach anything remotely related to the Bible or Christianity in schools yet push courses to get kids to playact being a Moslem (all in the name of multiculteralism of course).

I could go on and on....

David Horowiz was right with his book Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.

Abraham said...

Americans are granted the right to make stupid comments, and to say whatever else they might please (within limits, no "Fire!" in crowded buildings), by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

I must quibble with this. The Constitution undoubtedly obligates the government to respect those rights - but it recognizes them as pre-existing rights of Man. What is the origin of those?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

(For those following along at home, the right to speak freely - even if idiotically - is a bedrock element of liberty.)

Jim said...

Thanks Joan for the enlightenment. It's easy to condemn Muslims nowadays, but let's not forget that the most famous torturers and abusers of humanity were Catholics of the Dark Ages. If we hadn't had Catholics, we wouldn't have had the Dark Ages, since the Muslims that preceded their reign in fact enlightened the world with trivial things like the rule of law and the alphabet, not to mention all the great and wondrous things that begin with "al" like alchemy, Alhambra, algebra, Alameda, CA and Al Queda.

We do tend to concentrate on Catholics when we think of the Religious Abusers, mostly because the Protestant acts as an individual: he heeds no papal decree and recognizes no high priest. The Nazis had their Hitler, the Fascists their Mussolini, the Commies their Stalin and the Romanists their Pope, and now the Fundy Muslims have their Bin Laden and the Fundamentalist Evangelicals their first High Priest, Bush.

The Drill SGT said...

Jim,

Unsupported claims don't equal facts. I'll respond do some of your Muslim cheer leading in subsequent posts.

Lesson 1, Alphabets
CLAIM: the Muslims that preceded their reign in fact enlightened the world with trivial things like the rule of law and the alphabet,

Wiki material follows. Its cheap and fast:

The word "alphabet" itself is popularly believed to come from alpha and beta, the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, but some etymologists argue that instead the word derives from aleph and bet, the first two letters of the Phoenician alphabet (really a kind of syllabary) which later gave rise to the Hebrew alphabet. The true origin of the word is unclear.

Now what we in the West call the alphabet is really called the "Latin Alphabet" (500BC) and derives from Greek.

The abjads class of alphabets (Hebrew, Arabic, Persian) are older than the Latin alphabet (around 1500BC). But since Islam wasn't founded for another 2100 years and since Arabic wasn't the basis for modern Western alphabets, your claim doesn't hold up well.

We do use Arabic numbers, but number systems and the alphabet aren't the same.

Balfegor said...

but let's not forget that the most famous torturers and abusers of humanity were Catholics of the Dark Ages. If we hadn't had Catholics, we wouldn't have had the Dark Ages, since the Muslims that preceded their reign in fact enlightened the world with trivial things like the rule of law and the alphabet, not to mention all the great and wondrous things that begin with "al" like alchemy, Alhambra, algebra, Alameda, CA and Al Queda.

"preceded their reign" -- whose reign? Catholics? The Dark Ages start with the collapse of Imperial authority in the western provinces in the 5th century. Islam emerges in the 7th century. No?

Re: the Catholics, I think the Protestants were just as bad. The wars launched by the Reformation were pretty awful stuff, and the kinds of things men did to each other then made the mediaevals look like pikers. Not to suggest that the Romans were any slouches at torturing.

The Drill SGT said...

Jim,

Unsupported claims don't equal facts. I'll respond do some of your Muslim cheer leading in subsequent posts.

Lesson 2, Rule of Law
CLAIM: the Muslims that preceded their reign in fact enlightened the world with trivial things like the rule of law


Ann should teach the course, but I'll give my layman's view. where to begin?

Religious law? first codified in the Torah perhaps? And since the Jews had spread across N Africa, Central Asia and Europe before Mohammed, that can't be what you are talking about.

Civil Law? Romans codified it. Wiki gives this nice lesson. The civil law system finds its origins in Roman law, especially the Corpus Juris Civilis of Emperor Justinian, as later developed through the Middle Ages by medieval legal scholars. Originally civil law was one common legal system in much of Europe, but with the rise of nationalism in the 17th century Nordic countries and around the time of the French Revolution, it became fractured into separate national systems. This change was brought about by the development of separate national codes, of which the French Napoleonic Code and the German and Swiss codes were the most influential. Around this time civil law incorporated many ideas associated with the Enlightenment.

Great Law Givers?
The 23 in the Capitol that are the sources of American law are:

George Mason
Robert Joseph Pothier
Jean Baptiste Colbert
Edward I
Alfonso X
Gregory IX
Saint Louis
Justinian I
Tribonian
Lycurgus
Hammurabi
Moses
Solon
Papinian
Gaius
Maimonides
Suleiman
Innocent III
Simon de Montfort
Hugo Grotius
Sir William Blackstone
Napoleon I
Thomas Jefferson

Of those I think these 3 are the best:
Hammurabi
Moses
Justinian


I don't see Mohammed on the list, short or long, only 1 Muslim at all(well after the Dark ages), and more Jews.

The Drill SGT said...


Jim,

Unsupported claims don't equal facts. I'll respond do some of your Muslim cheer leading in subsequent posts.

Lesson 3, Alegbra
CLAIM: not to mention all the great and wondrous things that begin with "al" like alchemy, Alhambra, algebra,


I'm getting tired of these lessons, so I'll make it short.

Alegbra the word is Arabic, from a book by a Persian, but the math was invented 1300 years before.

wiki follows:

The origins of algebra can be traced to the ancient Babylonians, who developed an advanced arithmetical system with which they were able to do calculations in an algebraic fashion. With the use of this system they were able to apply formulate and calculate solutions for unknown values for a class of problems typically solved today by using linear equations, quadratic equations, and indeterminate linear equations. By contrast, most Egyptians of this era, and most Indian, Greek and Chinese mathematicians in the first millennium BC, usually solved such equations by geometric methods, such as those described in the Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri, Sulba Sutras, Euclid's Elements, and The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. The geometric work of the Greeks, typified in the Elements, provided the framework for generalizing formulae beyond the solution of particular problems into more general systems of stating and solving equations.

Indian mathematicians proceeded to write treatises on algebraic means of solving equations from the end of the first millennium BC, followed by Hellenistic mathematicians from the early first millennium AD. Important algebraic works from this general era include the Bakhshali Manuscript, the works of Hero of Alexandria, the Arithmetica of Diophantus, the Aryabhatiya of Aryabhata, and the Brahma Sputa Siddhanta of Brahmagupta.

The word "algebra" is named after the Arabic word "al-jabr" from the title of the book al-Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-l-muqābala, meaning The book of Summary Concerning Calculating by Transposition and Reduction, a book written by the Persian Muslim mathematician Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Ḵwārizmī in 820

The Drill SGT said...

Lesson 4, Alchemy
CLAIM: not to mention all the great and wondrous things that begin with "al" like alchemy, Alhambra, algebra,


Last lesson. Alchemy is an Arabic word from 900 years before Islam, describing a field of study that is 4000 years older than that. Egyptians.

using an Arabic word, isn't a wondrous thing. It has NO connection to Islam as claimed.

The Islamic world had a period where they were a center of scholarship. 700-1400 CE. That ended. Islamic scientists haven't done much of anything since. That's the point. Islam encourages a static backward culture. If everything that is worth knowing has already been given directly from God in the Koran, there is no need for learning and one only need memorize the unalterable Koran. There we are full circle to the topic.

Game, Set, Match.

PatCA said...

"Excuse me, but who gave you the right to make such stupid comments?"

The Founders of our nation, who gave us the right to free speech, which includes criticizing and mocking the beliefs of all others.

Jeff M,
What a pretty theory you have presented! Too bad that to date we have not quite perfected the art of "toss[ing] them out of an airplane without a parachute" before they manage to blow up the plane.

Class, write on the blackboard one hundred times: There is no difference between the American madrassah depicted and an ordinary American school.

Ryan said...

All I'm going to say is that I teach 6th grade math at the best-performing (aside from the magnet schools and the gifted programs) middle school in Baton Rouge, and many of my new students this year don't know their multiplication tables.

Andrea said...

First: the founders of our nation didn't "give" or "grant" us anything -- they recognized that ALL men had the right to freedom of speech along with all the other rights listed in the Declaration of Independence. That means ALL men, not just Americans. What many other countries do is downplay, ignore, or deny that those rights exist. What we do in the US (or are supposed to do) is accept them. That's the difference.

Second: boy, Jim really didn't like it when his momma made him put on his shoes to go to church.

ignacio said...

Thanks Drill Sgt.

Leaving aside the potential terrorist angle, once these male students graduate: How will they regard and treat women? Will they participate in and/or support honor killings and rapes?

Will they expect their wives to wear burkhas?

And so on. Will they think infidels are human?

How many will ever rebel and leave the religion? Many, many Catholics and Mormons and Evangelicals and Lutherans reject their religious upbringing -- or much of it -- as superstition.

When females try to leave Islam they are all too often risking their lives.

Freeman Hunt said...

Freeman,

So what? Can you list the two or three Catholics who know this (no fair listing the pope)? Do you agree or not that RCs don't have a clue about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception?


Shoot. I wouldn't have deleted my comment if I'd known it had already been read and was being responded to. I deleted it when I realized that I might be feeding a troll.

I'd say that a lot of Catholics probably know what the Immaculate Conception is, but I can't say that I've quizzed any Catholic friends on it.

I'm not sure why this matters. What are you getting at? You think people are compulsorily indoctrinated into religion, but don't know it well enough? You think Catholics should study their catechism more?

Mike said...

Frankly, a 9 hour school day alone borders on abuse for a young child.
Ha, I go to a religious Jewish high school with a dual track and the longest day of the week is 7:30-8:30 mandatory.

Brian said...

I am continually reminded of the old fable about the frog and the scorpion. One day, yet again, the same New Yorkers will be shocked when these Muslims turn on them.

Tibore said...

"...let's not forget that the most famous torturers and users of humanity were Catholics of the Dark Ages."

You don't read much history, do you Jim? The "most famous torturers and abusers of humanity"? Doesn't Communism fall into that picture? Mao and the millions sacrificed in China, Pol Pot and the Killing Fields in Cambodia? Outside of that, how about the depradations of the Japanese in China in the 30's and 40's? The executions of defeated foes during the Mayan times? The routine sacrifice of children by the Incas? And note that I'm not even mentioning the obvious one so as to avoid invoking Goowins Law. Yes, it's true that the Inquiqsition is a terrible stain on Catholicism's past, but if you think it's the number one Big Bad Event in history, you haven't been reading history.

And the fact that you reel off elements of religious doctrine doesn't impress. Jesus had much to say about the Pharasees who obsessed over rules and conduct but missed the essential spirit of religious teachings. If you harp on the details without understanding the spirit behind it, you don't understand Christianity.

And Jim... this tired cliched attempt at anger you try to project.. it's lame. We've all seen it before from others, and it's been tiresome for some time now. Why indulge in it? There are better ways to get your point across. By the way, the true poseur cynic spells it "AmeriKKKa", not "Amerika". Three K's, get it? Insult in the most economical way possible? You're two K's short of being a real protestor.

Also, you're leaning on pretty empty rhetoric to deliver your insults, you know. Since when has church attendance been "compulsory" in this country? You sure don't try to lean on logic much, do you? Canards ("Kids are property of the parents when they aren't property of the state", strawmen ("I have yet to meet a Roman Catholic who can explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, for example. But that won't keep him from trying to control some woman's procreation"... "What he does is reject his parents' and his government's attempts at brainwashing, perhaps"), rants supported by cliché rather than fact ("The idea here, as in memorizing the Koran, is not to understand the words, but to fill your eyes so full of emotional tears that you fail to see straight and continue to support George Bush"), but not logic. Disappointing for being a "nuclear physicist and rocket engineer" (by the way, I thought all you in that field referred to yourselves as "aerospace engineers"...)

We all understand you're upset at Catholicism and America. Can't you construct your diatribes a little bit better? Less assertation, more fact? Because, to be blunt, you're not elevating anyone's opinions of nuclear physicists and rocket engineers the way you're writing now.

Seven Machos said...

Hopefully, Jim will make like Richard Nixon, and we won't be able to kick him around any more.

Larry Feld said...

Muslims can teach their kids anyway they want, but those kids should have no rights to welfare, foodstamps, etc. if they are too illiterate to productively work.

Ann Althouse said...

Mike said..."'Frankly, a 9 hour school day alone borders on abuse for a young child.' Ha, I go to a religious Jewish high school with a dual track and the longest day of the week is 7:30-8:30 mandatory."

Key words: young child, high school.

Extra question: Is that nonstop academic study, or are there meal breaks, sports, music, art, and other things making it more of a normal day?

Kip said...

I'm a true blue conservative who thinks Libertarians are dangerous fanatics, but even I can see the justice in a libertarian approach to approach to educating one's kids.

-- First of all, I sincerely doubt these kids know no Arabic (oh sure the media is infallible, I forgot). Anyway, sometimes with kids (as with learning Shakespeare) you need to learn the words first, the meaning catches up with you when you grow up.

-- Secondly, rote learning is a great way to learn. Previous generations rote-learned large amounts of poetry and prose -- including the Bible -- and their adult lives were greatly enriched by it (why not rote learn some KJV, and enrich your life too).

-- Thirdly, within Muslim society, knowing the Koran by heart probably opens a lot of doors (not counting the one to Muslim heaven). A highly religious culture, founded on that book, of course they'll be able to use that knowledge later on.

They love their holy book, and who the heck are you guys to tell them how to bring up their kids?

I have no doubt there are commenters here who would take a Libertarian stance on all manner of sickness like drug legalisation and gay marriage -- things that are just destructive and wrong (but at least they're familiar!) -- but something unusual, something you don't understand, you don't get the point of it, you want to bring in the jackboot of the state.

Hypocrites.

Pathetic.

Andrea said...

"Rote learning is a great way to learn"

Boy, you're really stupid, aren't you, kip? What part of "most of them don't know what the words they are learning mean" don't you understand? For your information, the untranslated Koran that the devout use is not written in coloquial Arabic, but in a "classical" Arabic that is centuries old and is about as intelligible to the average modern Arabic speaker as Latin is to us. Leaving that aside, the article also mentioned that most of the boys in the class were South Asian, and the boys they mentioned by name were in fact Pakistani. The language of Pakistan is not Arabic, but Urdu, which is a Hindustani (Indian) language. They use a version of the Arabic alphabet called Nastaliq to write it, but that doesn't mean understanding of Arabic is automatic for them.

As for rote learning, no one is arguing against the practice itself (except for crazy people like Jim), but rote learning is great for learning lists of facts that don't need to be interpreted, like the multiplication tables or the capitals of states. When rote learning is applied to a religious text in a language the learners don't understand, one of the things that implies is that the text being so memorized is both self-evident and incapable of being interpreted or argued about as the multiplication tables -- everything in the Koran is as set in stone as 2x2=4, so there's no need to inquire further, or even to wonder what anything means. This is the core of what the problem is with this sort of religious instruction. Do you get it now? Probably not -- you're too busy fulminating against scary "libertarian" hypocrites.

Kip said...

Yeah, I did know vaguely know about Classical Arabic, that was why I compared it to Shakespeare.

But Buddy -- broadly assuming by your umbrage that you are a Libertarian -- tell me how you're not a hypocrite for wanting the state to crush this little school because it teaches a content you don't admire in a like you don't understand?

'We support everyone's freedom to choose, unless it's something, y'know, w-i-e-r-d...'

I wonder what the Koran would say about that? I know what the Bible says.

tjl said...

Kip blamed most of the comenters here for "wanting the state to crush this little school because it teaches a content you don't admire in a like you don't understand."

If Kip had actually read Ann's post he would know the school doesn't actually teach anything. The kids simply memorize the Koran phonetically. Since they aren't taught Arabic, the content is a closed book to them.

The school robs the kids of a chance to learn anything useful for their adult lives and gives them nothing in return but nonsense syllables. For that, the "school" deserves all the contempt showered on it here.

Kip said...

Look, I guess it's a big presumption that you guys are Libertarians. I took this as a meeting place of that sort of person. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe you're all the Commies you sound like, who knows...

As for Miss Althouse's article. Well, to be precise, it described what a *news article* said about a school, and well, we true blue, smart conservatives are pretty skeptical of the press's ability to report real life things accurately.

By the way, people migrate to America precisely for the sort of religious freedom this article alludes to. I think most Americans would chuckle at this oddball little school, but would be proud that they live in a country where people can do as thy d#mn well please.

But more importantly, if you *are* Libertarians, what the h#ll is the use having principles if you discard them the first time you come across a group of people who make you feel wierd with what they think and do?

Once again, repeating that huge presumption, thank goodness you're not really the champions of freedom you consider yourselves to be. We'd all be in trouble if we had to rely on you all to safeguard our freedoms, wouldn't we?

Mark said...

This story is an illustration of the fact that Islam does not belong in our country. In my opinion, it fits the definition of a cult, including signs like "the spiritual group demands that you place your children in its training program" and "the spiritual group teaches that giving up your life for the sake of the spiritual group may become necessary sometime in the future."

We have fetishized "tolerance" in this country to the point that our survival as a civilization is in danger. You cannot have a nation that has no identity other than being a nation that has no identity. A nation, to have an identity, must insist that immigrants fully and totally assimilate into that identity, and must forbid immigration by those whose culture is fundamentally alien. Otherwise what you have are not immigrants, but colonists. And that's what these muslims are - they are colonists setting up Islamic colonies in the US as they have in Europe. A colonist is someone who has no interest in leaving their native ways behind, but who comes to a new land only for economic reasons or to escape persecution. A people cannot allow colonists to establish themselves - just ask the American Indians about that.

Islam is fundamentally incompatible with our culture and cannot be allowed here. I understand that the majority of us are still in denial about that, and are busy making excuses about how only SOME kinds of Islam are dangerous, or making the odious claim that our own religious people are no better. That is the path to civilizational suicide. You have to have enough love of, and confidence in, your own culture to say that those of alien cultures are not allowed to colonize it.

Ann Althouse said...

Kip: Rein it in, or you're going to be viewed as a troll. Quit acting like you don't perceive the obvious: private religious schools must meet the standards imposed by the laws that require children to attend school. Parents have a constitutional right to send their children to private schools, but those schools must be schools. This applies to all sorts of religious private schools, not just Muslim ones. This discussion has NOTHING to do with discrimination against Muslims, except to the extent that worrying about discriminating against them causes some people to give them a special exemption from requirements that apply to everyone else. The notion that religion gives you a special privilege to mistreat children is terrible, and you are promoting it... though possibly only if the parents are Muslims. Picture a Christian school purporting to treat kids like this. It would NOT be tolerated. Start thinking straight and keeping all the relevant ideas in your head at the same time, or at least review what you've written before you hit publish. And tagging on comments like "pathetic" when your post is so pathetic is just pathetic.

Nance Confer said...

Of course, the laws for private schools vary from state to state -- not all of us are required to follow a set curriculum or even follow someone else's idea of the 3 Rs.

And is it really such a frightening idea that these boys are doing something different for a few years? Something off the success track?

I agree the ideas these boys are being taught are, at best, silly. But what religious school doesn't teach some similar nonsense?

They can memorize their set of cultural nonsense and then go back to memorizing (oh so sensible?) times tables. In their own time.

Nance

mikealpha said...

In many ancient cultures memorizing epics and reciting them was a valuable skill, perhaps a profession. Literacy was rare and oral transmission was the preferred method of tranmission of the classics. Because the Koran is a poem in Arabic, and because Allah wrote it in Arabic Islamic adherents memorize the Koran in Arabic despite the fact that most dont understand that language.

Stephen said...

"but we can still do a side bet on what percentage of Roman Catholics can explain the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception."

Everybody, am I missing something?

I can't think of three Catholics who do not know Immaculate Conception. It's not like it's that complicated.

I can't think of three people, whatever their religion, who don't know it.

What am I missing?

-

What do you think are the chances Jim and Christian_Anarchist work at the same aerospace engineering firm?

-

I'm a cardiovascular surgeon who got his M.D. from UPenn, after graduating from a top five law school and doing a brief stint in the Navy Seals.

Just thought you'd all like to know that.

Noumenon said...

The part that's bugging me is how Althouse and the first twenty commenters all assume that compulsory schooling is a good idea. I view it as a propaganda opportunity for the state and would be glad to see more people availing themselves of the freedom to indoctrinate their children how they think is best, rather than how the government thinks is best. This falls under the category of homeopathy: dumb, but none of the government's business.

Atticus said...

Stephen,

Cool. I thought I was the only one on that track.

The Drill SGT said...

The part that's bugging me is how Althouse and the first twenty commenters all assume that compulsory schooling is a good idea. I view it as a propaganda opportunity for the state

a couple of points to summarize where I think most folks are on the topic:

1. WRT Education of children, The State needs to balance rights of children, their parents and society at large which these kids will join.

2. Beyond the NEA, and nobody here has taken that position, nobody is talking about "compulsory schooling". What has been discussed is some minimum standards for curriculum which all schools (or home schooling) must maintain (see point 1 above)

3. Parents should be free to select any program of instruction for their kids that meets those standards, and the state should be flexible in supporting that.

4. We should not allow selected groups to opt out of laws that protect society. The result is anarchy.

in summary, freedom of choice, but equal enforcement of the law.

A. Eteraz said...

i actually used to attend a madrassa (in Pakistan -- where there is no oversight by anyone). frankly, the memorization part and the length/duration is NOT THAT BAD. I have friends who have memorized the Quran in the States at similar schools and they drive Lexuses now and are doing quite well. I think if any oversight is needed, it needs to be in the areas of sexual abuse and such (often these are boarding schools as well). Frankly, if you had any idea how much esteem and money you can make within the Muslim community by memorizing the Quran, you'd sit your butt down for even longer. I'm a madrassa drop out and only learned 1/30th of the Quran. You can't imagine how cool Muslims think I am.

These guys aren't becoming terrorists because they are doing rote memorization.

My suggestion to the "Islam does not belong in our country" crew, stop freaking out. Or start by deporting me.

Ann, you keep some strange commentators. By the way, if anyone wants to call me a Muslim apologist, please visit my blog first.

If we want to freak out about schools, we should also freak out about the state of public education in inner city schools in America. Vigor High in Mobile, Alabama. The high school in Bensonhurst. MLK High in Philly.

Ann Althouse said...

A. Eteraz, you mention "strange commentators," but this is a diverse group, mostly debating the issues in a civil fashion. Some comments are offensive, like Mark's most recent one, but this is the place to contradict it. I will restate my position that a school like the one described in the article is not acceptable in the United States, at least as long as there are compulsory schooling laws.

PatCA said...

Mr. Eteraz,
I'm glad that you experienced no ill effects from your madrassa. But I don't buy that inculcating a child into what amounts to a fundamentalist cult, a cult that also is producing many terrorists today, is a wise option for the parents or the society unless they are ready to accept the odd bomber or two in the future made up of people who did not drop out.

What are the children being taught, when they are taught? That people of other religions are monkeys and pigs? That they must only befriend Muslims? That becoming a shahid is the best way to paradise?

Mark said...

I would like to note that because a comment is "offensive" does not mean it is untrue. "Offensiveness" is irrelevant, I think, unless the point of the comment is solely to offend, and not to illuminate.

I try not to purposefully offend in what I say, but I do think it is valuable to be direct. I try to be very direct. If that offends muslims, well, I guess that's too bad. I think their culture and beliefs are a fundamental threat to the long-term survival of my civilization and I am going to state that firmly and directly.

I do appreciate and respect Ms. Althouse for allowing me to express my opinions here.

Mark said...

In response to a.eteraz' comment ("My suggestion to the "Islam does not belong in our country" crew, stop freaking out"):

Any sensible person objectively evaluating the events of the last thirty or forty years would "freak out" about the actions of muslims around the world: the murder of athletes at the Olympics, hijackings, murder of plane passengers, murder of cruise ship passengers, the Beslan school massacre, plane crashings, genital mutilation of girls, forcing girls to stay in a burning school out of concern for their "modesty", subway bombings, bus bombings, nightclub bombings, wedding bombings, beheading of schoolgirls, beheading of female charity workers, beheading of businessmen, murders and intimidations of artists, murder of daughters for having boyfriends or refusing to marry men they don't want to marry, stoning of "adulterous" women buried to their neck in the ground, hanging of gay teenagers, etc, etc, etc.

Your fellow muslims, the "extremists" - who are actually nothing more than people who actually believe what the Koran says and act on it - have sworn to forcibly convert the entire world to their cult beliefs.

I think "freak out" is an important first step in coming to terms with what we're facing. "Mass deportations" and "quarantine muslims in the Middle East" are two more steps we need to consider.

AlaskaJack said...

I never really believed in reincarnation before. But the evidence is clear; Mark is the reincarnation of Pope Urban the II.

thexytheowee said...

Ann Althouse: Or are you a troll too, thexytheowee? You think I should spend my time scolding and monitoring? There are hundreds of comments a day here.

Thanks Ann -- no, I am not a troll. I even avoided flame wars in the early days (similar to my rather chaste avoidance of hallucinogenics).

And no, I do not think you need to spend your time scolding or monitoring .... but neither do I think it is unreasonable for one to draw inferences from your choices. All in all, thanks for providing this forum.

To those who are Muslimphobic -- I lived in a place for almost a year that was 97% Muslim. I woke up to morning prayers, interrupted meetings for afternoon prayers, and responded Alayka when someone was kind enough to say Salaam-Alaikum to me. What, you think I am sympathetic to terrorists? I can not adequately convey the sympathetic outrage and kind words I received from my Muslim friends after 9/11. Am I an Al Queda apologist? I argued vociferously in favor of the publication of the Danish cartoons with my Muslim friends. Does that make me Islamophobic?

Overgeneralization and dichotomous thinking is a form of mental imbalance (yeah, you read it right) and can result in radicalization and extremism … and there is no side & no angle & no part of this stupid friggin conflict to which and to whom this imbalance does not apply.

Seven Machos said...

I think most of the people on this thread agree, but don't know it or refuse to admit it. The State should give local schools very wide latitude to teach how they want and what they want. The State should insist, though, that at the end of the day, a 10-year-old knows certain things, and a 14-year-old knows certain things, and an 18-year-old knows certain things. These certain things generally involve the remedial basics of the liberal arts: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

This school is bad and wrong because it does not appear to teach anything but the Koran. Hence, its students will not know remedial basics because this school isn't teaching those things. This school should be reformed to follow the law, or become a nice after-school program.

skdjlkergjl3 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
skdjlkergjl3 said...

I'm somewhat amused by the posts of Jim...

The reason why nytimes wrote up this story? Because islam is under the spotlight for breeding so many terrorists. Rote memorization of the koran, to the point of exclusion of normal studies is what this article sought to address. The koran does not allow for any interpretation other than the literal one. And that is why the rote memorization is a bit scary. That was the point of the article(although nytimes does gloss over why this activity is bad in the first place.)

I don't know what Jim's problem is but it seems to stem a lot from "Amerika." Jim seems to be a west european(probably german) whose apathy extends to the church.
Jim: Public schools in the US are not what they should be but that doesn't mean that you will harp incessantly on catholicism.
I again repeat, public schools in the US are not what they should be, I won't defend the fact at all.

Christianity might have done what it did 600 years back but if you are going to justify why muslims have a right to do today what christians did 600 years back, you're dead wrong.

And Jim, can you please tell me the modern *good* contributions of islam? Since you like to cite algebra and stuff, how about saying a line or two about what they have contributed to modern society that has made my life easier? I can't really think of anything. If you could, you would have given a better example than that of algebra. When somebody asks for my achievements, I don't tell them that I earned a medal for painting in first grade. I have to tell them something that is relevant now, today.
The no. of books the arab world has translated to arabic is as many books spain translates per year. You can therefore understand where their priorities lie.

Some have stated that jews are educating their kids in the talmud or whatever. What you are forgetting is that jewish kids are some of the most highly educated kids in the US today. This is not some flash in the pan statistic that I'm pulling out of my a**, it has been an established fact for decades.

Mr Eteraz states that the kids who memorized the koran are driving lexuses and doing well. What he doesn't state is that this is an example of only a few kids.
I'm in India and there are some 10,000 madrassas. A majority of them teach the koran and related subjects. Very few teach practical knowledge. The govt is trying to change this because the graduates of these madrassas are very impressionable to extremist groups as they are not fit to do any job that a college graduate here is capable of.
The situation is even worse in pakistan. Musharraf is the most charming snake the world is seeing. Except, his venom is coursing through the veins(army) of pakistan.

Those who believe that taking a few good examples like Mr Eteraz and the son of the lawyer sherwani and making them the norm are only fooling themselves. Mr Eteraz is a very erudite person. However, at this point he is not the person at the helm of this religion. Just because one is good in prose does not mean that the ills of islam can be swept under the persian rug. The extremists have hijacked the religion and the moderates are doing nothing tangible about it.

This is the bloody damn reason I have to endure 3 hour waits at the airports, cannot carry anything with me and have half of my newspaper filled with terrorism this, terrorism that. 5 killed by terrorists in kashmir, 2 arrested in bangalore for having extremist links... the only part of the paper that cheers me up is the "cartoons" section.

Jeff Medcalf said...

tjl,

I'm curious what other aspects of my childrens' upbringing you think are not my responsibility?

Nance Confer said...

"The extremists have hijacked the religion and the moderates are doing nothing tangible about it."

Yep, but we're about to vote them out of office.

And Ann wrote:

"I will restate my position that a school like the one described in the article is not acceptable in the United States, at least as long as there are compulsory schooling laws."

Each state has its own laws -- some call it compulsory attendance, some compulsory education. What you find acceptable in your part of NY doesn't carry much weight anywhere else.

Nance

Pastor_Jeff said...

Jim wrote:

...without realizing that the Hail Mary (and the Angelus), recited every night on the radio ad nauseam and thrice daily by many Catholics, Anglicans and even Lutherans, is done by rote memorization and not understood, since the words “full of grace” are a direct reference to the Immaculate Conception ...

Jim,
As others have pointed out, there aren't many Anglicans or any Lutherans reciting the Hail Mary, and certainly not in Latin. And I doubt you know what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is, since you seem to think it has to do with Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit. That's what the verse you quoted is actually referring to.

The Immaculate Conception is about Mary's sinless conception in her mother's womb -- which Catholics (wrongly, I think) hold is necessary for Jesus' sinless conception.

The text makes it clear that this greeting and news took Mary by surprise -- which would be unusual, one suspects, for the only person to that point who had (supposedly) lived without sin. "Who me? God favors me? Why, I can't imagine it -- I'm only a normal, perfectly sinless, girl."

No, the text is question is about God's grace in choosing Mary to bear Jesus and her surprise at how this would take place. So I'm poretty confident you don't really understand the Immaculate Conception.

Which makes it an odd choice to attack others with -- not that it even really matters, since it has nothing to do with the discussion here.

But it does bear all the marks of classic quxxo-like behavior. Is Jim your anglicization of "Jacques"?

Mark said...

AlaskaJack,

I don't get the Pope Urban II reference. He was responsible for beginning the first of the Crusades. I most *emphatically* am opposed to a crusade into muslim lands. I simply don't want *my* country to become muslim. Is that really so ridiculous, so beyond the pale? Would it be so inhuman to expect muslims to live in historic muslim lands until such time as they have worked through their jihadist aspirations and can forswear converting the world to Islam?

Ann Althouse said...

Mark: The American tradition is to welcome members of all religious groups but to have secular laws regulating behavior. Religious persons have freedom or thought and speech and assembly and worship, but they have to follow the valid laws that apply to everyone else, even if they cite religious reasons to want special treatment. It works quite well as a system. If you start excluding people or kicking them out, you've violated your own principles by discriminating based on religion.

PatCA said...

"Religious persons have freedom or thought and speech and assembly and worship, but they have to follow the valid laws that apply to everyone else, even if they cite religious reasons to want special treatment."

That's true, but many religious advocacy groups push and push for special treatment, from the "right" to teach creationism in science to the "right" of this school to teach according to narrow Islamic ideals. Only time will tell if the West has the courage to enforce its values through its laws, but I look at the UK and to a smaller extent the US (cf., the shrug of administrators re this school) and believe it will get worse before it gets better.

tjl said...

Jeff Medcalf asks,

"tjl, I'm curious what other aspects of my childrens' upbringing you think are not my responsibility."

I thought the point made by most commenters here is that it is very much the responsibility of parents to bring up their children with at least the minimal skills needed to live in the modern world. Those skills include reading, writing, and basic math. Those skills cannot be replaced by memorizing meaningless syllables in an incomprehensible language.

Please don't try to frame this as a freedom of religion issue. The enlightenment values of free speech, free thought, freedon of religion, and so on, all depend on the bedrock assumption that everyone in society has at least a basic education. In the absence of universal literacy, the enlightenment freedoms go by default because they mean nothing to people too ignorant to exercise them.

Mark said...

Ms. Althouse:

Yes, we have a tradition of religious freedom. However, we have never had to deal with Islam here to any significant degree. I doubt the Founding Fathers would have welcomed large communities of muslims. Certainly Jefferson had a low opinion of them, being as he had to deal with the Barbary pirates. In my opinion, as I argued above, Islam can be more accurately characterized as a dangerous cult than a legitimate religion. None of the major religions of the world except Islam, to my knowledge, contain explicit admonitions to go and kill unbelievers. I cannot believe God would have told someone to do that. In my opinion, that is not a legitimate religion. It is a cult founded by a 7th century arab warlord and it does not deserve consideration here any more than say, Charles Manson's cult would had it not been eradicated but had instead grown for a few centuries.

Europe has historical experience with muslims - in 732, in 1683, and today. The muslim belief system has not significantly changed since then. I think it would be naive to allow muslims to set up colonies here. I think that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with our civilization and that we ignore that at our peril, our history of religious tolerance notwithstanding.

I can easily see us in 30 or 50 years, being intimidated into submission or driven to war with the next generation of muslims in this country, and a few remaining stragglers among us saying "we must maintain our religious tolerance!" as we are forced into dhimmitude or into a war that could have been forestalled with a little realism about human nature and the nature of Islam.

There should be a distinction between tolerance for peaceful religions and tolerance for violent cults. As the British experience illustrates, the children of peaceful muslims can turn out violent. All it requires is that they begin to read their Koran closely and follow its dictates to convert the world by any means necessary.

Charles Martel, John Sobieski, and our ancestors who died fighting the muslim invaders would be aghast that we are welcoming them into our lands while there is a resurgent jihadi movement among them and even second- and third-generation muslims in the West will take up the fight against us. Apparently the West is doomed to a life-and-death struggle with Islam every few centuries. We don't seem to learn.

Freeman Hunt said...

I wouldn't use Jefferson to support the claim that Muslims shouldn't be welcome in the United States:

The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read, “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and the Infidel of every denomination. [Emphasis mine.]

PatCA said...

The kids can always go on to this high school in Michigan. They will fit right in.

Hezbollah High

charlotte said...

Wow. People should read PatCA/s "Hezbollah High" link and catch the last half of comments made by Arab students in Dearborn. The illiteracy, sexism, ageism (they keep insulting the blogger's age!), anti-Semitism (Israeli children apparently paint pictures on bombs sent to kill Lebanese), anti-Americanism and all round invective from those high schoolers is not the ringing endorsement of their school they're trying for.

Mahmudul Alam said...

Actually Ms. Writer:

I am not sure what are you talking about. Memorizing the Quran has been given a very high status in Islam. Quran is unlike any other book in the world. Quran is in Arabic. God (as Muslims believe) has composed it such a way that people of any language, even those who does not know a single world of Arabic, can memorize the whole Quran. Also that people of any language can memorze a 600 page book word to word from beginning till end is a manifestaion of Quran's miracle. At the moment there are miliions of Mulims all over the world who have committed Quran to memory. And it includes 7 and six years old. Is there any other holy text in this world right now that millions of people have memorized?

Before Quran, God gave three divine scriptures to humankind. They are namely Torah, Psalms, and Bible. After their revelation, God gave humans the responsibility to preserve them (mainly in tablets), but humans corrupted them. That is why for the last divine revelation, God Himself took the responsibility to preserve it from corruption and thus chose the heart of people as a medium of preservation. See, some nut-jobs a few days ago tried to burn the Quran. So what if all the Qurans are burned today and all the manuscripts are destroyed right now? The Quran would still exist in the hearts of people!

It is very unfortunate that memorizing Quran has been connected with terrorism. The fact is, and Americans know this, although you will not admit, all this terrorism and war are the creations of money hungry corporate kings. They create all these anarchy so that they can make all the money.

Anyone can memorize the Quran. It takes about a year. I am an engineer having degree from A&M and I am now memorizing a Quran. Call me a terrorist, but I know who I am. This is something that means a lot to me.

I know I have just wasted my 10 minutes. This world is still a racist place, and the best race is the white, christian people. I do not mind, my status is with my Lord, not with anything else.

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