Monday, May 2, 2011

Changing the plans

There are some days when you are teaching a class and an event happens that affords you the privilege of changing your plans immediately in order to address a current event. It was announced today that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. We are just finishing up Islam in World Religions class and although we had addressed stereotypes, we had not specifically addressed stereotypes based on BinLaden, why they occur, and what AlQaeda is.

I started by putting a packet of information together. It contained information from Britannica on AlQaeda, an obituary from the BBC about Bin Laden and an article from the BBC about young suicide bombers. Students read these articles and we discussed them. The main questions we considered were, "Does Bin Laden represent mainstream Islam?" and "Why do many Americans consider all Muslims to be like Bin Laden." Students gave thoughtful answers that cited the text and drew upon the knowledge they had gained from our unit. Students who normally are reluctant to participate were interested, I suspect in part because of the timeliness of the news. You know those students who would never raise their hand to participate? Today their hands were raised.

After a short discussion, we watched an eight-minute clip from Ted called "Inside a School for Suicide Bombers." The speaker, Sharmeen Obaid, listed five reasons why these schools for suicide bombers are successful. Students were able to tell me those five reasons in significant detail. After the video was over, I counted the students out by sixs to make groups of threes. The students had to write down five ways to "solve the problem" of theses schools for suicide bombers. Students were engaged in lively discussion that produced authentic solutions not far from the policies of some governments. (Whether that's a good thing or not....)


Post a Comment

Add This