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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Great Resources on Islam. and on the Experience of Being a Young Muslim in America

I had planned this for later in the week, but I know feel it should be posted at once
This guest blog comes from Sandhya Nankani whose bio is available here, nytimes.com/learning/teachers/lessons/bio.html#Sandhya%20Nankani

In New York City alone about 1 in 10 students in public schools is Muslim–nearly 100,000 in all–yet they remain one of the most misunderstood segments of the student population.  I just finished writing a curriculum guide that is intended to dispel some of these misunderstandings.

The guide is for "This Is Where I Need To Be," a book of oral histories by Muslim youth in NYC.  Trained in the methods of oral history by Teacher College’s Student Press Initiative, a dozen Muslim teenagers set out to document stories from the real-life experiences and feelings of their Muslim peers in public high schools. The result is a compelling collection of twenty-three oral histories which show the tremendous cultural diversity of Islam in the US. These are voices of teenagers living ordinary lives at a time when being Muslim in America can provoke "extraordinary" reactions from classmates and teachers, from friends and strangers, or even from one’s own family and kin. The book is a companion to a three year-long study of Muslim Youth in New York City Public Schools, conducted by Dr. Louis Cristillo, research assistant professor at Teachers College.

One of the purposes of creating the curriculum guide, which was funded by the Ford Foundation, was to give educators the tools to facilitate informed discussions about Islam in a post 9/11 classroom. Lesson plan topics include media and propaganda about Muslims in Post 9/11 America, stereotypes, and diversity of Islam in the US. Each lesson plan is linked to at least one reproducible and there is a substantive listing of web, print, and video resources that would be suitable for further curriculum development, both for educators and students.

The guide will, we hope,  be a valuable didactic device that will provide opportunities to critically explore, discover, and interpret what is particular, universal and ordinary, and extraordinary in the lives, feelings, attitudes, experiences, and aspirations and frustrations of Muslim American youth.  At the same time, it is intended to help reduce any apprehensions that the average teacher may have in tackling content, themes or topics about which they may have little or incomplete knowledge. It will be published in early 2009, along with a companion website.

Another wonderful resource for educators that I recently came across is the website Changethestory.net. It offers an interactive experience where users—Muslim and non-Muslim alike—can meet their neighbors, learn about Islam and apply techniques of interfaith dialogue and action to local communities.

Comments

  1. Jeannine Atkins says:

    Marc, Thank you for letting us know about what sounds like an excellent and much needed resource.

  2. Naazish YarKhan says:

    Excellent resource. I’m happy to see something like it exists.