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Today concludes somewhat of an experiment in my pedagogy. In my AP World History class, I completely “outsourced” the unit on Islam to students and devoted a week and a half of class time to practicing skills, analyzing documents, and teaching essay writing.
The unit culminated today with a live teleconference with Pakistan that led into a Harkness discussion. The student in Pakistan, a practicing Muslim named Abdullah, answered our questions about Islam based on our reading of the text.
Adbullah told us about his Haj to Mecca, cited the Koran in Arabic, and fielded our historical and theological questions about Islam. I was very pleased with my students’ intelligent questions,their politeness, and the level of gratitude they showed him at the conclusion.
What I found most interesting was his description of the Shia Sunni split, which he described as a divide between democratic and dynastic politics providing the basis for today’s Islamic democracies. Incredible POV opportunity. Several students were able to synthesize what they learned from this experience with their textbook knowledge, and brought both to bear upon our Harkness discussion today.
Looking forward to speaking with China in two weeks.