Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!


  1. How can I help my young Arab-American student?

--Don’t chastise the student if he unconsciously writes from left to right or if he has trouble reading from right to left.

--Don’t schedule tests on Muslim holidays since the student may be absent.


--Try not to schedule tests during Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar during which Muslims fast). Since Arabs fast during this time, the child may not function as well as when he is well-nourished.

--I was surprised when Mohammad first hugged me, however, I should refrain from initiating physical contact. If the Arab-American is male and the teacher female, he may be shy about touching or hugging her. “Some Muslim men, for religious reasons, avoid physical contact with women other than close relatives.”

--I need to search for books for the students that celebrate his and other cultures and try to discuss multiculturalism when I think about it. Hopefully, introducing multiculturalism into the curriculum is more than just lighting the Menorah at Christmas. I need to find ways to bring multiculturalism into the curriculum whenever it is feasible.

--Make sure there are no pork products in the cafeteria food. If so, have him eat lunch with me.

--Muslims pray six times a day. If the student needs to go to a quiet place to pray, let him.

--Since Mohammad’s first language is Arabic, I should demonstrate patience with him if he is having trouble with reading or with language comprehension.


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Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!



As a teacher, it is my responsibility to help eradicate many of the myths surrounding those of Arab descent. I teach in an urban school where the student body is 99% black. (We have 1000 students, two of whom are white, one who is Asian, and one Arab-American. We have many students that are Muslim, but not necessarily of Arab descent.) I teach technology to grades one through six. The Arab-American (who appears to be Caucasian) is in one of my fourth-grade computer lab sessions. His mother arrives with him in the morning in traditional Arab garments speaking to him in Arabic. (So that means Mohammad is bilingual.) In a school that is 99% black, I am sure that he cannot help feeling alienated. Last year was his first year in the school. He seemed to be nervous (understandably so) and hyperactive, always having to move a part of his body, tapping his hands and his feet constantly. This year, perhaps because he has become more acclimated to the school surroundings, he is calmer and more focused in my computer lab.

How can I, as a teacher, help Mohammed and not further alienate him?

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom--Embrace Diversity!



Many Americans have disdain for Arab society because they see the society as patriarchal and male-dominated. (Due to influences from other cultures, however, this description is rapidly changing.) The male has dominance over the women and children in his family and this dominance extends into the institutions of their society. Some ridicule the garments of the women, saying they look like ‘black lumps’ walking down the street. While many of us hold disdain for this patriarchal point of view, many Arab women say they prefer a male-dominated society, saying that the society and the garments offer them ‘protection’. Americans generally see the women as helpless, but there is a report on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia website that states that the Arab patriarchal society: “does not imply that women are totally powerless or totally deprived of rights” (2001).

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Post 9/11 Classroom -- Embrace Diversity!



Some students or teachers may ridicule the fact that Arabs may have more than one wife. Mary Ali of the Institute of Islamic Information and Education website stipulated that Arabs may marry more than one woman because there are more women in the world than men and that the male population is further reduced by wars. “Polygamy helps more women become part of a family. Polygamy has been practiced by mankind for thousands of years. Many of the ancient Israelites were polygamous, some having hundreds of wives. King Solomon is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines”. Another website, Cultural Orientation tells us: “One’s status in Arab society is determined by the place of one’s extended family.” And, because “marriage is expected of everyone,” a man having more than one wife is ensures those women a place in society.

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