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Modifying the Simulation

Reader comment on item: 'Become a Muslim warrior'

Submitted by Stephanie (United States), Jan 28, 2003 at 12:29

I can see where some of the outrage over this simulation is coming from, however, I think you should look to your teachers who have more sense than some of you might think. As a teacher, I would never be comfortable with having my students quote from the Qur'an. However, I am required to teach my students about Islam and the culture of the Middle East (look to National Standards). The funny thing is, is that you cannot understand the culture of the Middle East unless you understand something about Islam. The two go hand in hand.

Since September 11, I feel that we have become a culture of hate and ignorance concerning Islam and Middle Eastern culture. How many times have you heard the derogatory term "rag head" when discussing the apparel of Muslims? Obviously, clothing is associated with the culture of a region, so that must be taught in schools. However the reason for the way they dress is connected to Islam. Kids need to see the connection between religion and clothing in order to develop an understanding of the culture. Students need to develop true knowledge about a culture, rather than being filled with stereotypes. Their knowledge leads them to develop a true understanding of a culture, and helps them to be more tolerant individuals. (Unlike some of the hateful, ignorant people who are all up in arms about this simulation)

Had you ever taught seventh graders, you would understand why they learn more from a simulation than anything else. Kids this age hate to be still. They don't get as much from a class discussion or taking notes as they do from actually engaging in the activity. Simulations simply take the kids deeply into the material they are studying. They keep the kids engaged.

Admittedly, there are some things in the simulation that I am uncomfortable with. I only have my kids simulate the hajj (Race to Makkah) by playing a game to review the information that we have learned. We draw our progress on a map in the room, so it is like a board game. I also encourage the students to simulate the zakaat (almsgiving), though they are not required to do so, and make the point that doing kind deeds for others is common in all cultures. I do not have my students simulate any of the other Pillars of the Faith.

I do use the dirhams (money) provided in the simulation guide. The say "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate." At first, I was uncomfortable with that, but I decided to compare that to American money which says "In God We Trust," right there on it.

As for the projects, I give my kids choices. No, they don't have to become Muslim warriors, but some kids have done research on how the Muslims dressed and what sort of weapons they used in the Crusades. No, they don't have to dress as Muslims, but some kids are going to put on a fashion show to let the class see the different types of clothing worn in the Middle Eastern world. My kids only do what they are comfortable with and what I am comfortable with.

For kids to learn, they must be engaged in the activity. Give your teachers some credit. They know how far to take it.

As for the information in Islamic culture being presented as a fact, most teachers I know (as I do) will present this as a "fact" in the sense that this is what Muslims believe.
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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