I attended an interesting conference on Thursday: Teaching about Islam: Pedagogical Resources and Perspectives. It was led by Susan Douglass (almost PhD) from Georgetown University. The presentation was a very interesting combination of explanation of the basics of Islam, teaching resources, and overall perspective of the teaching of history.
The first session discussed how to build a curriculum and classroom culture that makes discussions about varying religions/cultures less confusing or worrysome to students. There is a whole group out in the political world that has defined or set up some guidelines about how to discuss religion in the classroom..."Finding Common Ground". This project was developed using folk from a variety of areas so as to reflect the multitude of perspectives that need to be considered. It comes down to the basics of how a teacher respectfully approaches a religion or culture without advocating it to the students. Douglass did a good job of fitting the general explanation of the tennents of Islam in this structure.
I was amazed at the amount of resources the conference shared with the attendees. We recieved copies of the "Finding Common Ground" teaching statement/explanation, CD's of many lessons and resources about Islam, and a multitude of website recommendations for more FREE information! (Teachers love the Free.) I gathered two copies of everything to send back to O'Gorman. I hope the theology department and the history folk find some usefull information in the packets.
Another aspect that was discussed was how books organize history in general. The speaker pushed the idea of covering an era of history...not just one society, but an era covers how a series of cultures worked together. One of her slides was very interesting. It showed the spread of the major world religions during eras as they occured together and how they spread to similar areas at the same time. Hmmm...interesting.