For the past 20 years, teachers have asked MECA to come visit their classes to talk about Palestine and the Middle East, and for curricular materials and resources. In response, we have developed the Teach Palestine Project, based on a commitment to collaborative development among teachers and collaboration across communities. We want teachers to feel confident and inspired to engage their students in learning and critical thinking about Palestine/Israel.
The recent history and current reality in Palestine are connected to many issues K-12 educators already teach, including immigration, Manifest Destiny, borders and walls, the juvenile justice system, water and other environmental issues, and US policy in the Middle East. Yet very few teachers in US schools teach about Palestine. That silence feeds demonization of Palestinians, lack of understanding of their struggle for human rights, and Islamophobia.
Over the past six years, MECA staff members have conducted workshops on teaching Palestine at many conferences for K-12 and post-secondary educators, spoken in classrooms about Palestine, worked with individual teachers on curriculum about Palestine, and written articles and conducted interviews on the subject. Jody is working with Palestinian-American educator Samia Shoman and designer Lisa Roth on the Teach Palestine website (coming soon).
The objectives of the Teach Palestine Project are to:
• Provide model curriculum, lesson plans, and resources (DVDs, videos, picture books, maps, interactive websites, etc.).
• Create a community of teachers in person and online to develop the work and share experiences. For example, we have designed the Teach Palestine website to include opportunities to share new curriculum and discuss classroom experiences, problems and success. We see the website as an online community for teachers already engaged in teaching Palestine/Israel as well as those who would like to but aren’t sure how to start.
• Collaborate with educators and community activists on key points of interdisciplinary and inter-community curriculum—for example, how borders and walls affect communities around the world, including at the US/Mexico border and in Palestine; how the criminalization of youth affects children and families in Palestine and in the United States.
• Partner with Arab youth in the US on evaluating and eventually creating books and other resources for teaching about Palestine and the Middle East/SWANA.
• Write, publish, distribute, and create teaching materials for young adult book on Silwan, a neighborhood outside Old City in East Jerusalem. Jody has made three trips to Silwan to interview youth, parents, teachers, and community activists. Through the story of this one neighborhood, US students will see the impact of Israeli occupation and settlers, and also the broad range of cultural and political resistance among Palestinian youth and their families. Jody is working closely with the Madaa Center in Silwan on content, photographs, and multimedia aspects of the project.