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July 12 - What is Islam, Islamic Literature, Pedagogical Choices
In Reading Discussion
Michael Bienz (he/they)
Jul 11, 2021
Pedagogical Choices As someone who thinks it is important to teach controversial topics, I appreciate the point about teaching difficult things and seeking to "complicate" them for students. Social media and the news often paint things as simple when they are not, so teachers definitely need to teach nuance. I also appreciate the point about teaching the differences between faiths and communities, instead of always teaching commonalities, which curricula tend to do. Different faiths and places are unique and special. It is nice to teach commonalities as a message of peace, but it is too simplistic, and our students deserve more. As someone whose specialty is curriculum, this was a great read! I have several questions for the interviewee: 1. You say that you are not an expert on the hajj after writing a book on the topic. Are there areas of contemporary Muslim life in which you do see yourself as an expert? 2. You say that, in your curriculum, you include texts that allow students to see that "Muslims have valuable things about the Qur'an and all also stupid things about the Qur'an." What is an example of one of the "stupid" things, and what made you want to include those things in your curriculum? 3. You touched on this in the interview, but I am wondering what Muslim students make of your attempt to separate the academic and the experiential. When they ask if you are a Muslim and you do not respond with a definite yes or no, how do students react to that? Note: As an openly gay educator, I can not imagine separating any of my personal identities from what I do in the classroom, and I can not imagine not saying "Yes" when students ask if I'm gay. 4. Related to question #3, how do current events impact the way you navigate your identities in the classroom? I am thinking specifically about Trump's Muslim travel ban. Do current events like that impact your classroom?
Michael Bienz (he/they)

Michael Bienz (he/they)

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