As-Salamu alaykum

I began my teaching career in 1980 with a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Saskatchewan. After a couple of years in the classroom, I was back at the university to complete a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics, and then later a Master of Science in Continuing and Vocational Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Looking back, I feel the smorgasbord of places where I was in the role of a student and as a teacher were critical learning places for me – teaching Home Ec in prairie composite high schools, ESL classes in Japan, supply teaching in suburban Montreal, grade two and three in Athabasca Delta Community School in Fort Chipewyan, elementary grades in the International School of Islamabad in Pakistan, and then home schooling with our family when we moved back to Canada. Many ideas ripened in my book Concentric Circles, which became the founding text for Sakinah Circle in Edmonton Public Schools, an alternative program where the curriculum is delivered through the lens of the Qur’anic worldview. You can read more about the program here and visit its website for more information.

I believe that each of us is a learner for life. We start by learning to look, then looking to learn. I am convinced that the lens through which we view the world frames how we think, that the lens is a product of our lived experience, and that what we believe arises from the heart. Receptive and curious, seeing specificity within the greater cosmos, listening to the heart, becoming reflective… these are attitudes of the wise learner. Can we see the horizon, the wider context? Do I, in the space and time granted me, know my meaningful place and purpose? Where is my real path on this earth, and what footprint do I leave? How do we each keep walking with certitude in times of difficulty? Can we keep planting seeds and tending gardens in faith? Our journey is one mindful step at a time. So let us refine the lens, polish the glass and clear the sightlines.

As we take on the roles of teacher and student, may we always be heartful learners, and ever strive to see things as they really are.

Elma Harder