Gulen Schools as a Lab of Social Harmony

gulen-schools-gulen-movement-social-harmonyRecent tragic yet thought-provoking incidents such as the one happened back in Aug in Fergusson and the one occurred in Staten Island in New York this summer should alone be enough to show how important to invest in education, especially as it relates to schooling practices that are geared to nurturing tolerance, multi- culturalism and social  harmony. One does not need to be educated or old enough to understand how gruesome thing was to kill somebody in as little as 90 seconds after initial face off; a white policeman in Staten Island of NY choke-holded a black man and killed him instantly. This incident and the incident in Fergusson, for many educators, were not individual spontaneous act of killing, instead these killings were the manifestation of ever widening social divide between the black and white communities that has unfortunately been breeded, nurtured and instigated for so many years.

In one of my recent visit to one of the so-called Gulen schools, I observed first hand that the classrooms were like a little united nations assembly, where a white girl was sitting next to a black girl, a black boy was role playing with a white girl in a reading activity, and white teaching assistant was helping black math teacher to grade students’ homework. When examining their educational model, I noticed that they integrated character education into the fabric of their curriculum, and students are being schooled about color-blindness, multi-culturalism, tolerance, respect, civility, and dialogue. This is one of the many ideal setting deserves to be replicated in public education area across the country. If we find human life dear and near to us as human being, the contribution of what we so-called Gulen  schools are immensurable in an effort to instill tolerance, justice and social harmony in the community.

In this day and age, when we all begin to cherish the fruits of democracy in the context of globalization which demands inclusive approach rather than exclusive in worldly problems, educators, policy makers and parents should be mindful about the contribution of those educational models that foster tolerance, social harmony, dialogue, peace and mutual existence. It is almost imperative to understand that the building blocks of our new global village are the tenets of multi-color lens. Therefore, we need both public and private organizations to invest on and allocate resources to programs and initiatives promoting cultural, ethnical, and social awareness.

As Mark Twain once said, “success is not a product of coincidence, yet it is a careful application of the repeated business principles”.  Although no initiative is perfect, and every humanly business model has a room for improvement, social justice in the context of color blindness has been meaningfully demonstrated in so-called Gulen schools in that these schools have been offering a sustainable in allowing individuals with different ethnic, religious, socio-economic, gender and cultural origin. A white middle class school principal and with her African-American assistant principal in coordination with two men, one of whom is from Europe, have been successfully   leading a title I school in a deprived / socio-economically disadvantaged community with the starling academic success. Yes, success is not a product of coincidence, instead, its systematic application of common-sense business principles in a cyclical manner: continuous planning, implementation and evaluation. As far as I can determine, this is the guiding philosophy behind the success of so-called Gulen schools, not only when it comes to increasing intellectual capital, but also social capital by indulging kids believe in social harmony

“Education, Wisdom, and Peace” writes around the logo of one of the so-called Gulen school. This is the three legs upon which we can build social harmony where everybody will feel welcomed. World is full of ignorant; some of sincere, some are vicious snake. A true education should help kids gain wisdom, and in return wisdom should create vigilant communities who can foster social harmony. Wisdom in its simplest definition is a compass/ scale that human conscience uses to weigh the right/wrongness of its action given the social norms of the society the individual happen to live.   Ignorance and discrimination has been the most cancerous virus in the body of humanity through centuries. Both public and private sectors should get together to invest on education, which, while helping students increase their academic capital, should also help students build upon their social capital to become socially acceptable individual  who spreads spirits of collaboration, mutual understanding,  co-existence, dialogue and respect for those who represent “other identities”.  Therefore, it is my humble suggestion that one should exercise extra cushion when criticizing so-called Gulen schools as the social stake is as high as disturbing social harmony, while taking ignorance as the main theme at the center of discussion table.

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