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roddma

Parents Upset Over Islam Unit in Schools MERGED

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roddma

Some parents in our state are upset over a unit on Islam being taught in school. If a Christian child shouldn't be made to do an Islam assignment, then maybe a Muslim child shouldnt be made to do an assignment from the chapter on Christianity. It's not an attempt to convert ghees

http://columbiadailyherald.com/news/loc ... curriculum

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Themiscyran

I feel for the school and teacher in these situations, I really do. I don't know how they are supposed to cover world history without covering religion.

Funny, but I doubt they'll complain when they cover the 1930s that studying Hitler is a covert attempt to turn them into Nazis. Just a guess.

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Cleopatra7

I think the real issue is that a lot of conservative Christian parents don't think that their children should know anything about the other religions of the world, especially Islam. Even learning the bare basics of what Muslims believe, like the Five Pillars and the difference between Sunnis and Shias, is being spun as a stealth attempt to convert "innocent Christian children" into Nazi Commie Muslims. Given this situation, should it come as any shock that many Americans who are gunning for war with Iran can't even find the country on a map? :wtf:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/ ... ans-120246 (link not broken because it's a news site)

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louisa05

I taught world history at a Christian school and fought this fight every single year.

On an even more ridiculous note, that school had banned teaching any Greek and Roman mythology in literature for fear that the students would convert to worshiping Zeus or something.

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Toothfairy

See this is why children are entitled little snotty brats. Look who their parents are. How will your child know about different cultures or religions if you keep them in a bubble? Christianity isn't the only religion. Are they scare their children might convert? In school you learn about different cultures. If you want a christian education then enroll in christian school.

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2xx1xy1JD

It sounds like these parents didn't even bother to speak to the teacher or school before complaining. The kids didn't spend 3 weeks on Islam; they spent only 1 day on the actual religion. Christianity wasn't skipped altogether, it's covered in the units where it's relevant.

FWIW, Girl 1 was doing a semester in a Jewish program last year in Israel. Guess what? She studied Christianity for day, and studied Islam for a day, together with related field trips. Because it's pretty hard to understand parts of history (like the Crusades) without knowing anything about the religions.

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roddma
See this is why children are entitled little snotty brats. Look who their parents are. How will your child know about different cultures or religions if you keep them in a bubble? Christianity isn't the only religion. Are they scare their children might convert? In school you learn about different cultures. If you want a christian education then enroll in christian school.

The ironic thing many sects of Christianity hold similar beliefs to Muslim beliefs like male dominance. The only thing missing on teh female is the burka.

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Arete

Unfortunately, you are always going to have some assholes that make those complaints. If it wasn't the unit on Islam, the would have been complaining about stealth conversions to Hinduism because of Gym yoga, or polytheism because some used a Greek or a Roman myth to illustrate a point. Always on the lookout that someone is stealth converting in the public schools. :roll:

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Themiscyran
Unfortunately, you are always going to have some assholes that make those complaints. If it wasn't the unit on Islam, the would have been complaining about stealth conversions to Hinduism because of Gym yoga, or polytheism because some used a Greek or a Roman myth to illustrate a point. Always on the lookout that someone is stealth converting in the public schools. :roll:

This is why I could not teach high school history. I really salute those who do. The attempts to censor history curriculum are ridiculous. Students shouldn't get to college completely ignorant of major world religions and believing that slavery "wasn't so bad" and the US was founded by fundies. Yet they do, and parents like this are part of the reason why. :angry-banghead:

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julie paradox

Ha. My 15-y-o has noted several times that his Church of England primary school spent more time teaching him about other faiths than the secular secondary...

He's still quite happy coming to church.

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samurai_sarah

(Mods- if there's a thread on this already, or something similar, please merge)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/virginia-community-teacher-fired-lesson-islam-article-1.2468683

What happened is that students in Virginia were asked to write out the Shahada (Islamic confession of faith) to learn about the complexities of Arabic calligraphy. It caused a stink among the parents.

The German-language newspaper in which I first read about the incident, claimed that this happened in the context of a geography lesson. http://www.spiegel.de/schulspiegel/virginia-christliche-eltern-drehen-wegen-arabisch-hausaufgabe-durch-a-1068494.html

While I don't see anything in the way of Islamic indoctrination in this, I am bemused about the context. Why was this in a geography lesson in the first place? I don't think any kind of statement of faith has any place in geography. So, a non-religious example would have been the better choice, in my opinion. But even so, I fail to see how this is indoctrination.

Thoughts? Opinions?

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SpoonfulOSugar

Here is a follow up story from the WaPo:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2015/12/17/furor-over-arabic-assignment-leads-virginia-school-district-to-close-friday/

The entire school district closed today because of the vitriol being directed its way.

Irony much?  I'll bet the threats were not being generated by Islam callers and writers.

Geography includes culture - the course also looks at a number of Eastern religions and philosophies.  If people object, they should be better informed about state standards and curriculum.

I do think the use of this particular phrase to copy was unwise in the current climate, but we don't have any real information about the teacher's prep or thought process.

Edited:

Here are other articles which are more local:

http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2015/12/15/augusta-county-riverheads-high-school-teacher-world-geography-islam-angry-parents/77374858/

http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2015/12/17/riverheads-high-school-follow-up/77483594/

Note that the follow up clarifies that the teacher did NOT create the worksheet herself.

Edited by SpoonfulOSugar

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SpoonfulOSugar

From the follow-up article (apologies, I'm multi-tasking):

LaPorte's lesson was part of a survey of different religions. When students study a different part of the world, they also learn about that region's culture, religion and political systems. Students had studied Christianity and Judaism then had moved on to Islam. They will also learn about Hinduism and Buddhism. Comparative religions is part of every world geography students' required standards for Standards of Learning tests.

Bridgewater College Professor Nancy Klancher, who teaches philosophy and religion and interfaith studies, said most of her students come from Virginia and many from the Shenandoah Valley.

"A large majority of them are from the Valley, and they don't know anything about any other religions besides their own." Klancher said. She has found how important her classes are in exposing students to cultures and ways of thinking they maybe have never heard of before.

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samurai_sarah
13 minutes ago, SpoonfulOSugar said:

(snip)

Geography includes culture - the course also looks at a number of Eastern religions and philosophies.  If people object, they should be better informed about state standards and curriculum.

I do think the use of this particular phrase to copy was unwise in the current climate, but we don't have any real information about the teacher's prep or thought process.(snip)

Thanks for clarifying about geography. The way I was taught geography did not touch upon cultures and religions. We had "social studies" and "religious education", in school, for that. That clears up a lot of my confusion.

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tropaka
Quote

Students were also reportedly shown copies of the Quran.

In a world geography/religion lesson on Islam, I would hope so.  She probably shouldn't have used a statement of faith as an example, but the over reaction is, well, exactly that.

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samurai_sarah
2 minutes ago, tropaka said:

In a world geography/religion lesson on Islam, I would hope so.  She probably shouldn't have used a statement of faith as an example, but the over reaction is, well, exactly that.

That's what was so confusing to me. Granted, it's been a while since I took geography in school, and in a non-US environment, so I didn't realize that human geography was part of the curriculum. You can't teach the human geography of, say, Utah, without mentioning the LDS. You can't teach the human geography of Northern Ireland, without mentioning Catholics and Protestants.

Plus: I agree - over-reaction.

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SpoonfulOSugar
2 minutes ago, samurai_sarah said:

That's what was so confusing to me. Granted, it's been a while since I took geography in school, and in a non-US environment, so I didn't realize that human geography was part of the curriculum. You can't teach the human geography of, say, Utah, without mentioning the LDS. You can't teach the human geography of Northern Ireland, without mentioning Catholics and Protestants.

Plus: I agree - over-reaction.

These are great examples, in my opinion.  Faith has a huge part in the development of a region - ignoring it creates an elephant in the room.

Would Brits expect someone to understand Northern Ireland without discussing religion at all?  (not hypothetical - serious)

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Alicja

If it was to understand Arabic calligraphy, I'm not sure I see the outrage?

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Dizzy
HerNameIsBuffy

Tbh I don't think it's appropriate to have kids write out a profession of faith for any religion - even their own - if it's a public school. 

Teaching about religion and it's impact on society is totally fine - that's not writing out a mission of faith.

And I'd be pissed the teacher was wasting their time teaching them to write calligraphy in school...the hell?  I doubt she's taught them everything they need to know on the topic and needed a completely useless time filler.  I think this is ridiculous.

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louisa05
1 minute ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

Tbh I don't think it's appropriate to have kids write out a profession of faith for any religion - even their own - if it's a public school. 

Teaching about religion and it's impact on society is totally fine - that's not writing out a mission of faith.

And I'd be pissed the teacher was wasting their time teaching them to write calligraphy in school...the hell?  I doubt she's taught them everything they need to know on the topic and needed a completely useless time filler.  I think this is ridiculous.

One of those links has a screenshot of the assignment in question. The kids were asked to attempt to copy one line of Arabic calligraphy and it was stated that the point was to understand that it is very difficult to learn and write. She was not teaching them to write calligraphy and it was not a "useless time filler". It appears to be one item on a larger assignment related to the topic. The attempt would help kids understand what she asked them to understand and I doubt, due to the phrasing of the instruction, that it would have been graded for accuracy. 

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Dizzy
HerNameIsBuffy
Just now, louisa05 said:

One of those links has a screenshot of the assignment in question. The kids were asked to attempt to copy one line of Arabic calligraphy and it was stated that the point was to understand that it is very difficult to learn and write. She was not teaching them to write calligraphy and it was not a "useless time filler". It appears to be one item on a larger assignment related to the topic. The attempt would help kids understand what she asked them to understand and I doubt, due to the phrasing of the instruction, that it would have been graded for accuracy. 

Mileage varies - I think it's a ridiculous assignment.  Wedding calligraphy is hard to write too, if my kids had been told to write a line of the Lord's Prayer in it to see that it was hard to write even as a Catholic I'd be pissed at the content and the point of the assignment. 

 

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laPapessaGiovanna

When I was in school geography was only about lakes, seas, mountains and the like. Plus states's borders and a description of the current socio-economic situation of every country.  Every thing more specific was taught in history and religion. This to say I also misunderstood things at the beginning like @samurai_sarah

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Dizzy
HerNameIsBuffy
Just now, laPapessaGiovanna said:

When I was in school geography was only about lakes, seas, mountains and the like. Plus states's borders and a description of the current socio-economic situation of every country.  Every thing more specific was taught in history and religion. This to say I also misunderstood things at the beginning like @samurai_sarah

Me too.  In early grade the cultural stuff was taught in Social Studies and in highschool and college various civ and history classes.  

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SpoonfulOSugar

Again, this is where it's an issue of state standards and curriculum, not an individual teacher.

The articles state that the intent is to allow students to experience various aspects, rather than hear and absorb.  So they touch and handle a Quran, they can try on a hijab, they copy some Arabic script . . . . it's designed to engage the student, rather than present rote information and expect retention.  Depending on the system and access, it wouldn't be unusual to invite an immigrant in to talk about the particular culture.

To make a fair comparison, I'd be really interested to know what they did for Christianity and Judaism, and what is planned for the other regions.

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laPapessaGiovanna

Do they try cirillic, hebrew, greek, chinese, malleala calligraphy too? I have difficulties understanding the usefulness of such a lesson, Arabic looks incomprehensible and difficult the first time as do Chinese and every language that uses a different alphabet. I don't know if I manage to express this well but this sort of lesson doesn't add real knowledge but only underlines the "alieneness" of another culture and can make it look like exaggerately difficult to approach.

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