Monday, December 15, 2014

"Children of Heaven" and Challenging Muslim Stereotypes

Zahra and Ali from "Children of Heaven" 

Building Background: Iran and Muslim Stereotypes  Last week, students in Ms. Rainey's class challenged you to examine your own knowledge and stereotypes about Muslims and the religion of Islam. You participated in a pre and post survey intended to measure your understanding and biases and watched an illuminating video produced by students presenting information about an often misunderstood group of people and religion. Today we are going to continue examining our own stereotypes and learning about people of the Middle East and the religion of Islam. 

Our focus today is on the people of Iran. Iran is  an important country in the center of the Middle East, and its people have a rich history dating back to ancient times.  

Iran also has a complicated relationship and history with the United States of America. Due to disagreements between the governments of our two countries, tensions exist. The image of the Iranian people that is often portrayed in the media is of a violent people that hate America and wish to do us harm. Images like the one below have been broadcasted on the news for years. If this is the only picture your see of Iranians, it could certainly shape the way you see them. 

Is this image representative of who the people of Iran are and how they feel about Americans?

And to be fair, the Iranian government and media is also guilty of pushing propaganda about America and Americans. As a result, the view of Americans for some Iranians is also likely skewed. How do we overcome these misrepresentations, stereotypes, and propaganda? I believe it starts with understanding our shared humanity. 

Below I have included some images from Humans of Tehran, which is a Facebook page dedicated to capturing the humanity of the people of Tehran, the capital city of Iran. Do the people in these pictures seem that much different from us? Do they change the way you see Muslims and people from the Middle East? 

Finally, watch the short video "Discover Iran in 2 Minutes" and see if you see Iran and its people in a new light.  


Movie: "Children of Heaven"  Now we will watch the film Children of Heaven which tells the heartwarming story of the relationship between a brother and sister from Iran. As you watch, pay attention to both the similarities and differences between your culture compared to that of the people of Iran depicted in the film. Also make note of the central characters' character traits. What human qualities do they exhibit? Finally, consider your own stereotypes you may have had about Muslims and/or people from the Middle East? Has this movie and today's lesson challenged or changed they way you see people who follow the religion of Islam and/or who live in this part of the world? If so, how? You will use the Children of Heaven - Study Guide to keep track of your notes and ideas. 

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