Religious diversity, multiculturalism, and representation: The challenge of facing Islam in the classroom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although controversy over religious and multicultural difference in education is hardly new in the United States, the terms of the debate have changed over time. Today, among other ongoing battles over sexual diversity, race, and language in education, the representation of Islam and Muslims is under scrutiny in schools and textbooks. For many teachers, Islam is an abstract aspect of the curriculum, rather than something they are knowledgeable about and face every day. Less than 1 percent of Americans are Muslims, and most Muslim children attend private or home schooling (MacFarquhar, 2008). Yet, after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks in the US, a new need to know about the religion and its followers emerged. At the same time, the topic became highly politicized, leaving educators and textbook companies uncertain whether Islam should be taught and, if so, how Islam and Muslims should be represented. In this context, it becomes difficult for educators to share facts and multiple perspectives with students, and increase students’ ability to critically analyze information, essential components of education within a democratic society. In this chapter I will first shed light on the roots of today’s debate over teach-ing about Islam by exploring some key issues and events in American educational history and political philosophy. I will then consider some different perspectives on what should be taught about Islam in US schools and emphasize why it is important to teach youth about Islam and Muslims in a fair and balanced way. Here I envision a multicultural education that does not just focus on the minority student, but focuses on the broader goal of supporting informed democratic citizenship. The final section will emphasize the role of media literacy in teaching about crucial and controversial multicultural issues, and provide recommendations and examples for teachers facing the challenge of educating students about Islam. Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvancing equity and achievement in America's diverse schools: Inclusive theories, policies, and practices
EditorsCamille M. WILSON, Sonya Douglass HORSFORD
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge
Pages79-93
ISBN (Electronic)9780203092446
ISBN (Print)0415635616, 9780415635615
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Citation

Jackson, L. (2013). Religious diversity, multiculturalism, and representation: The challenge of facing Islam in the classroom. In C. M. Wilson & S. D. Horsford (Eds.), Advancing equity and achievement in America's diverse schools: Inclusive theories, policies, and practices (pp. 79-93). New York: Routledge.

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