Opinion

In a Time of Islamophobia, Teach With Complexity

When teaching about the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. teachers are often confronted with a dearth of accurate and nuanced material about the history, politics and people of the region. This crisis of critical awareness mainly materializes through two recurring narratives that circulate in mainstream media, political discourse and popular culture: “Islam as anti-Western” and conflict fueled by “ancient hatreds.” These narratives work in tandem to produce a one-dimensional conception of the MENA, which, in turn, fuels the rising Islamophobia in U.S. schools and society.

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The Power of a Dinner Table

David Brooks, in a recent NY Times Op Ed, shares a powerful model of non-formal community/family-based peace education.
Kathy Fletcher and David Simpson have a son named Santi, who went to Washington, D.C., public schools. Santi had a friend who sometimes went to school hungry. So Santi invited him to occasionally eat and sleep at his house. That friend had a friend and that friend had a friend, and now when you go to dinner at Kathy and David’s house on Thursday night there might be 15 to 20 teenagers crammed around the table. The kids who show up at Kathy and David’s have endured the ordeals of modern poverty: homelessness, hunger, abuse, sexual assault. Almost all have seen death firsthand — to a sibling, friend or parent.

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As a Teacher and a Daughter: The Impact of Islamophobia

As educators, we know that our words carry a powerful weight. Although we can’t control how the media portrays Muslim people, we can encourage students to think critically about the messages that they receive from the media. We must also protect our students from classroom debates where they are singled out and feel like they have to defend their faith. One way to mitigate the impact of Islamophobia is to teach our students about it. We need to expose and critique the myths being constructed about Islam all around them in the media, in public discourse, and even in their classrooms.

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A peace-building response to the rise of ‘Trumpism’

In this OpEd, Cheryl Duckworth suggests we must mainstream peace education in every American student’s classroom to teach them to resolve conflict without violence, to respect multiple historical narratives of conflicts past, to be able to identify scapegoating and to value human rights. Global citizenship education, a sister of peace education, strengthens a nation by ensuring its youth have intercultural skills and global awareness.

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Schools as Agents Cultivating the Culture of Peace in Students (Indonesia)

As a diverse and heterogeneous country, building peace throughout Indonesia is not easy. Head of Research and Development Agency (Balitbang) Kemdikbud, Totok Suprayitno said, education is not to educate a child to be smart, but also to cultivate character. Basically, the character of diversity already exists in each child and needs only to be nurtured. In school, added Totok, the role of teachers is the key; because teachers do not merely teach knowledge. Their actions/ gestures and behavior would also become the model for the students.

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EDUCATION for Peace in Africa

(Ethiopia) Ensuring equitable access in education is key in addressing the root causes of conflict and instability in the world and particularly in Africa. It has been often said that education is a powerful contributor towards building peace as it creates a crucial link between humanitarian and long-term developments in a bid to develop the right conditions for social cohesion and community resilience. Member states of the African Union are now turning their attention to inclusive, equitable and innovative education , advocacy programs, peace-building, policies and programs in an effort to advance sustainable peace and development across the continent.

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Memorial day in Okinawa about more than just reliving the past

When 23-year-old Shun Kuninaka attended elementary school in his native Okinawa Prefecture, “peace education” was a turnoff. Children were forced to listen to accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, and what they heard was gruesome and disturbing.

As a student at the University of the Ryukyus, Kuninaka became involved in peace education. But he also felt the futility of his undertaking. “What is the best way to get students to learn from history?” Kuninaka asked himself. This eventually led to the foundation of a student venture business that he called “Gachiyun.” The name is a combination of two Okinawan expressions: “gachi” for “serious” and “yuntaku” for “conversation.”

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The Need for a Conclave of Associations and Groups in Our Field

Professionals doing very similar peace work but participating in different groups are typically not connected and the lack of linkages or even communication between various organizations and their members present complications and roadblocks to advancing important social and policy change. In an era of limited funding coupled with the difficultly of finding time to participate in professional associations, would not the entire field benefit from knowing more about each other’s work, and thereby, find commonality that could advance practice, research, education, and policy outcomes?

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Education Is the Key to Breaking the Cycle of Violence

In this opinion article published at TIMES Ideas, Forest Whitaker and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO argue that education must rise on the agenda of peace building, and to unlock education’s potential to nurture peace, we must support inclusive education systems that reach out to all groups and that teach human rights and new forms of global citizenship. We need to get this right to allow societies to escape the nightmares of history, to give young people every chance.

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Teachers: Agents of Peace Building in the Conflict Zones

Dr. Swaleha Sindhi suggests that in conflict-affected situations education is about more than service delivery; it is a means of socialization and identity development through the transmission of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes across generations. Education may therefore be a way of contributing to conflict transformation and building peace.

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