Saturday, February 25, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM--embrace diversity!



In learning about teaching diverse students I've encountered many misconceptions. Another misconception portrayed by the media is that all Arabs have the same swarthy complexions. Like African-Americans, Arabs come in all skin colors with different hair textures. Even our government seems to be confused: “The United States has, at different times, classified Arab immigrants as African, Asian, White, European, or as belonging to a separate group. Most Arab-Americans identify more closely with nationality than with ethnic groups” (Detroit Free Press, 2001).
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Monday, February 20, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



Where do I start? The first thing I need to do is read more about the Arab people. Who are the Arabs? According to the online encyclopedia, Columbia, Arab is the “name originally applied to the Semitic peoples of the Arabian Peninsula. It now refers to those persons whose primary language is Arabic. They constitute most of the population of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, the West Bank, and Yemen; Arab communities are also found elsewhere in the world. The term does not usually include Arabic-speaking Jews, but it does include Arabic-speaking Christians.”

Detroit has one of the largest populations of Arab-Americans in the nation. Because of this, immediately after the World Trade Center bombings, the Detroit Free Press (2001) published an article that tried to educate and dispel the many disparaging myths regarding Arab-Americans. Some assume that Arabs are bound by their religious beliefs but Arabs are a people that are united by the Arabic language. Within that common language, they belong to many religions, including Christianity and Judaism. The article stated: “Common misconceptions are to think that Arab traditions are Islamic, or that Islam unifies all Arabs. Most Arab Americans are Catholic or Orthodox Christians.”

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued...



THE SOLUTION:
Erase and Educate

Arab-American stereotypes are so pervasive and persistent in our post 9/11 society that I feel that it is my duty and responsibility to familiarize myself with the Arab culture. I need to recognize some of my own misconceptions of the Arab people. This is a crucial first step: advice from the ERIC Digest website has stated that “It is tempting to deny our prejudices and claim that we find all children equally appealing. Teachers and parents need to acknowledge that we, like our children, are inevitably influenced by the stereotypes and one-sided view of society that exists in our schools and in the media” (Gomez, Rey, A. 1991). To become more enlightened, I think (no, I know) that I must make a serious and sustained effort to reach a much higher level of cultural competency. As a teacher with an increasingly more diverse student population, I need to confront my prejudices aggressively. A good way to start is to erase my misconceptions and educate myself about this segment of our population.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

THE POST 9/11 CLASSROOM...continued



As I was searching the Internet for information, I was horrified to find this entry in full view for the entire world to see from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia website: “The personal appearance of the Arab is rather attractive. He is as a rule, undersized in stature, dark in complexion, especially in the South, with black hair, copious, and coarse; the eyes are dark and oval, the nose aquiline, and the features regular and well-formed. The ordinary life of the Arabs is simple and monotonous, usually out-of-doors and roving. They are usually peaceful, generous, hospitable, and chivalrous, but jealous and revengeful. In later times, however, they have greatly deteriorated” (Oussani, 2003). I read it twice to make sure that I was reading it correctly. This is an encyclopedia on the Internet that children may use to do research! The bias of this writer is apparent: monotonous, roving, jealous, and revengeful?! Even the writer’s physical description is inaccurate, for Arabs have several complexions and different types of physical features. Because the article had more than one copyright date, I was sure that I was reading an older version of the article. When I scrolled down to the bottom of the webpage and read ‘Updated 6 October 2005’, I was very disappointed. I intend to write to the website manager to ask if the misconceptions can be removed.

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