On the 16th of April 2014 an interdisciplinary talk was held in Senate Room, Chancellor Hall, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. It was a joint public lecture between Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Centre of Islamic Studies (SOASCIS), Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE) and Faculty of Science (FOS) entitled “Values and Pedagogy in Science Education: Integration from an Islamic Perspective.” This public lecture was organised in commemoration of 100 years of formal education in Brunei. The speakers were Professor Datuk Dr. Osman Bin Bakar and Professor Glenn Hardaker and responded by Dr. Hj Ibrahim Bin Haji Abdul Rahman.
Professor Osman Bakar talked about the teaching of science and mathematics from the Tawhidic Paradigm. He has highlighted the four points about science and science education that seems lost in this modern world view on these areas. The first point is the modern Western tradition as just one of the many approaches to studying the world of nature. Such less obvious or dominated approach are classical Chinese science and science in Islamic civilisation. The Islamic tradition has many more to offer especially when the world of nature is to be considered as an open book of God. For example, Al-Kharizmi (d. 850) motivated by studying the Islamic law of inheritance (’ilm, al-fara’id) made mathematical innovation with the science of algebra. Secondly, modern science focuses on empirical form of knowledge of nature as one of the forms of science. The history of science in various civilisations tells us there are other forms of science that should be taken into consideration such as metaphysical, theological, symbolic, qualitative, mathematical, rational and empirical. In the case of Islamic civilisation, the Tawhidic paradigm in studying the world of nature can cultivate the different forms of science in a harmonious manner. Thirdly, in the late modern period the purpose of science has reduced to the utilitarianism in science and technology especially in materialistic pursuit. In Islamic civilisation, in addition to scientific materialism, it pursues science to address his spiritual-moral, intellectual-rational, and psychological needs. This can be seen from the Qur’an, writings from Muslim scholars and scientists as well as writings from scholars and scientists in other civilisations. The immediate purposes of science are concerned with addressing the material and physical needs of men and the higher purposes are to help fulfil men’s spiritual-moral and intellectual-rational needs.
Science is not ‘value free’ and growing numbers of Western intellectuals and scholars are finding themselves to find many aspects of the knowledge of value-free science as problematic. Brunei is uniquely able to offer a good basis for pursuing a more developed integration of Islamic values in its national science education system through its National Philosophy of Melayu Islam Beraja (MIB).
The public lecture continued with a presentation by Professor Glenn Hardaker on Islamic Pedagogy from the traditional Madrasah concept. From Islamic perspective, the teaching strategies are chosen with the intention to spiritually form the human person. The pedagogical strategies facilitate the interplay between orality, memorization and the sacred text. In Islamic education, memorisation is very important to the whole process of learning. From memorisation, a person can act on the knowledge gained. For example, the first surah in the Qur’an, Al-Fatihah (The Opening), after memorising the seven ayah (verses), its implementation can take place in the solat (prayer). The next level is to embody the memorised text and actions as part of spiritual form of a person. The embodiment of learned knowledge is what Aishah, wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), spoke of the “walking Qur’an”. From the spirit of memorisation to ingrain it in our action and spiritually embodying to make, a human person is a traditional Islamic Pedagogy. To integrate values in our education is what is missing when pedagogy is done in a secular realm.
Dr. Hj Ibrahim Haji Abdul Rahman as a respondent to the two speakers suggested to form a plan for a realistic value based science education in response to Professor Datuk Osman Bakar’s presentation. To do this, he suggested to evaluate the existing science curriculum based on Islamic and modern science dimensions as specific standards. From this evaluation, foundational principles will emerge as to create a prototype holistic science curriculum. The prototype curriculum will then undergo analysis and evaluation with school teachers before being fully implemented in schools.
In response to Professor Glenn Hardaker’s presentation, he urged educationalists to investigate into the change in modern madrasah education from the traditional one. He also highlighted the departure on the meaning of “memorization” in traditional Islamic pedagogy and the existing education pedagogy. Where Islam prohibits cramming of knowledge without understanding and application, modern education gives rise to CPPF system, which is the Chew-Pour-Pass-Forget system. There is also a need in training upcoming generations on the importance of using knowledge and to regard it as an act of ‘Ibadah. In addition to memorisation in traditional Islamic pedagogy, he highlighted the importance of literacy in Islam. “Madrasah” was an advancement system for ‘Umar bin Khattab’s initiative to teach reading and writing. Dr. Hj Ibrahim concluded that, in terms of integrated education, Brunei has tried to marry two conflicting and divorced education systems. He agreed that the two presenters delivered erudite contributions that called for comprehensive Islamized science education that is far above mere integration.
The question and answer session concluded with the Guest of Honour, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Education, agreeing and urging teachers and educators to inculcate the teachings of Islamic values and principles in their teaching of science subject.