One on One with Larry Muhammad
Ebony S. Muhammad (EM): As the National Director of Muhammad University of Islam (MUI) and one of the spearhead of this new educational paradigm, how do you see your role in relation to the vision of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad that is being fulfilled now in 2012?
Larry Muhammad (LM): As I think about the time that we’re living in with the adversaries or enemies, who oppose Minister Farrakhan, who put out into the media, “Is the Nation of Islam Still Relevant” I believe that answer should be crystal clear. If you’re reading what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is saying, about the schools in American, even the “good” schools are deteriorating. If you look at those so-called good schools, there’s no connection to God, there’s no connection to reality and what would help civilization sustain itself or even clean up the current problems. However, when the Honorable Elijah Muhammad talks about this ideal world and this ideal scene here at Muhammad University of Islam, it would focus on the above as opposed to being focused on our problems or focused on the challenges of the past. We’re focused on the ideal scene, and building that around the children is just automatic. They are already in the mode of creating something new.
I was speaking with my middle child this morning about an article I read last night, and the article was dealing with what the Hon. Elijah Muhammad discussed as the fall of America, but how does that look in real time? Well, it looks like what we’re looking at. The economy is failing and the currency is devaluating. People are malnourished. In general, the people are not growing food, and some children do know where food comes from. The above are things that we focus on and push here at MUI. We’re introducing the children to the MUI Garden outside. They are able to see and touch that. I was telling this to my son in relation to that article that one day seeds will be a new form of currency. It’s been like that in the past. The real assets or wealth is land, therefore, having our own allows us to build on that.
EM: Yes sir, thank you very much.
You made some excellent points in regards to making that connection between the vision of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and what is taking place right now.
Going into this year’s Educational Conference, with the so-called good schools falling, we have an establishment such as MUI that is prepared and preparing to receive the students from those public schools. What about those who are homeschooling or want to set up their own school who share the same principles? Will that “how to” be implemented during the conference?
LM: Yes ma’am. I am really trying to get away from the traditional format of conferences. It gets old.
A few weeks ago I was in Oregon visiting the Delphian School; it’s a boarding school and a study technology school. I began to think of a different model for the Educational Conference; something that’s going to be hands-on and realistic.
I was speaking with the Nation of Islam (NOI) Engineers, and they’re coming up with something different where it’s hands-on for both the classroom and for the home. Education has to be the same approach and the same flow, because going from home to school is two different worlds, and I think that’s a big problem. I would like to see where we could provide hands-on, real time education. We’re talking about that right now, and we plan to have something solid by the end of May. We will possibly have something through webcast and webinars, because we understand that everyone can’t make it out to Chicago. I think we should really build it up and pull in the engineers, the Ministry of Agriculture and do something that involves real time education that can be immediately applied. I think that would be the best model.
EM: What do you think about bringing in some of the students to offer a few suggestions on what they believe would be a good method for instructors to use that we, as adults, may not be privy to?
LM: I think that would be a good idea. That’s something that we don’t do, unfortunately. The engineers and I did talk about that for this year’s conference and that’s something that I’m striving to do; to have the presence of the children and parents. I’ll be attending a conference next week in Philadelphia, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. It’s huge, it’s big business. They have really good people, but it becomes so massive and involves so many different ways and methodologies that it becomes free market for classrooms, and if the teachers are not prepared, uncreative, uninspired it can become a mess. The educational system doesn’t have much life. It exists on some level, and you have a few teachers who are dedicated but the overall system is poor.
EM: I have two more questions.
In regards to that conference in Philadelphia, what are your thoughts in regards to sending a few instructors from MUI to present to those teachers of the way in which the children are taught here at MUI?
LM: I’ve definitely thoughts about it. It would certainly help with assisting others with a different model and it would help us in establishing a greater presence. We have a unique system. When people come to visit they are blown away by the environment. We are in the process of bringing some things in that would really make it a system that the Hon. Elijah Muhammad talks about.
EM: Yes sir. The reason I ask is because I can hear how dissatisfied you are with the way other associations facilitate their conferences, and I see that we have the answer to what this system is lacking. I see how our instructors could reach those teachers who are uninspired or frustrated with the current system and offer an alternative; even if it’s something basic that MUI does that has been proven successful.
LM: Yes ma’am. Our teachers will be at the forefront and work towards publishing. Brother Shahid and a few others do attend and present at conferences for other teachers. He’s done the books and videos on mathematics. I do think that it’s something that all of our instructors should do.
The last question I would like to ask is in regards to sensitivity issues that we face as it relates to children with special needs as well as disabilities. Will this be a topic for discussion or area of focus that you may, in the future, address at our conferences? For example, my cousin’s son has Achondroplasia (Achondroplastic Dwarfism), and he is the only one in his family who has this condition. In such cases how do the instructors handle that?
LM: That’s definitely a need, and traditionally we’ve never really been equipped to handle that. We just met with a parent regarding IEP (Individualized Educational Program or Special Education), and we don’t handle students with IEP or who have been labeled as such. If the child is blind, hearing impaired or Autistic that’s different. Most of the children who are labeled as such as mis-educated. However, to answer your question, we do need more training and support for our teachers and our parents. It’s in our Nation of Islam Constitution that we have to be prepared to serve all of those who are in need of service.
EM: Thank you very much for your time and for sharing your thoughts as it relates to this New World and how we are fulfilling that vision as we speak!
LM: All praise is due to Allah. Thank you for the opportunity!
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