“Stay away from malicious gossip and fake words" (Qur'an 68;11).
Tears rolled down the cheeks of my fellow students as they watched “Schindler’s List” in our grade 10 World History class. As I observed the class, a fire of anger lit up inside of me. The more sad faces and tears I saw, the more fuel was added to my fire. Although I was sad for the Jews who faced countless atrocities during the Holocaust, I was angry, and NOT at the Nazis.
I felt confused and sad as to how so many students can shed tears for historical events, and yet remain unaware of the many issues which exist today! The irony of high schools and their education systems became prevalent to me when a young girl emotionally asked our teacher, “Why did the whole world ignore the rise of Nazis for so long?” I asked myself in those same distressing seconds, why do so many people ignore the situations around the world today? Will such situations just be a part of history class 100 years from now? The list of current world issues are endless. I do not intend to raise the wrong idea that history is useless. It is critical to learn about history. However, a major reason to learn history is to refrain from repeating the same mistakes. And students spend so much time learning about events which are over, that they forget to engage themselves with the time frame they are living in; what is more appropriate is today’s events, today’s reality, and today’s issues. I do not want to point the finger to history classes, they are called history for a reason; to educate about history. I would like to however point the finger at the schooling systems. I recall one night, news headlines were bombarded with the killing of many people in Palestine, and I came to school the next day to hear scarce discussion of the topic. Why do we have to take a world issues class to be able to engage in discussions about today’s issues? Why can’t high schools keep students informed of what is happening with today’s news, and allow students to input their opinions as well? Where are the necessary discussions? Headlines read “Muslims commit terrorist attacks” and the most we can do is have a moment of silence for the victims?! How about letting the students know that this is not what Islam teaches? How about at least giving everyone a way to engage with each other without feeling like a guilty outcast, because their source of identity was ascribed to something negative in the news? The education system has failed to educate students because it has limited education to textbooks and standardized tests. Students ignore the real world, because they perceive it as something which does not affect them. This lack of concern exists because of high schools failing to make students aware. Awareness leads to concern, which leads to action. The solution is simple. Along with focusing on World War I and World War II, educational institutes need to direct students’ attention towards “modern day history,” if you may call it so. Have teachers and staff engage in conversations with the students. Let students voice their opinions. Let students exercise the “freedom of speech” and “freedom of expression” that we citizens boast about. I long for a day when students will be more concerned with today’s reality than yesterday’s unfortunateness.