Driven by Why, then How

I am starting a unit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in my Modern Middle East class. Yesterday I solicited advice about web sources to help my students research it. I wanted to stay away from lecturing. Given that I have second semester seniors in their last quarter of high school, I have decided to minimize outside work so there was no background reading for homework. We watched a video that set up the psychological positions on both sides and the main stumbling blocks, but it left my students with a lot of questions. Perfect.

After thinking about what the classes might look like, I was unsettled. I did not want to do another worksheet where I directed them to find the answers to certain questions in web quest-like format. At the same time, I did not want them to approach the task without focus. So, I asked myself why I wanted them to learn about this conflict, and how that learning might matter. I can tell them that it is important for being an educated global citizen. But that does not seem real enough to capture the attention and motivate seniors with one foot out the door.

It hit me in a random moment while getting ready for school this morning. The goal is for the students to be armed with enough knowledge of the conflict to recognize oversimplification and misconceptions about the issues. In order to assess that, I need to have them to confront and dispel the myths and half-truths they might encounter in their conversations in the “real world.” My task is now to create scenarios where students have to role play to set someone straight about some aspect of the conflict – water cooler, family reunion, neighborhood gathering, etc. The work this week will be for them to prepare for that.

Step 1: Compile a list of some common misperceptions or oversimplifications that are “out there”?

Step 2: Solicit volunteers to help me out by acting as the purveyors of misinformation.

Step 3: Get out of the students’ way, but stand by their sides while they work.

Step 4: Perform scenarios in History Theater

Step 5: Evaluate how well it worked – for all of us.

Please help me with Step 1 – identifying what they might encounter that they should be able to counter. Also – feel free to contribute any ideas about scenarios.



4 thoughts on “Driven by Why, then How

  1. As far as scenarios, I like Lucy’s idea about plane conversation. A stranger you are trapped next to. I also like the idea of someone oversimplyfing a position for convocation day or in MFW, how do you/do you respond? It might be interesting to think not just of real strangers but of members of the community we don’t know well. Could be cool to think about lunch table convo, or hall talk.

    Cool idea Molly!

  2. Can’t simplify it any more than to ask: whose land is it? No matter where they go, they will encounter people who believe one side or the other.

    Best I can do…

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