"I think it's so important for all of us to understand each others cultures. This Presentation is a wonderful way to introduce students to Islam. It's a fantastic presentation"
Teacher-Scott Elementary School

"Wonderful information I would like to do this with each group of new students every year."
Teacher-Curie High School

"I thought the presentation was very imformative it was great to have clarification on topics related to Islam. Next time I will have my students prepared with educated questions."
Teacher-Lake Park High School

"The presentations were really interesting . It is nice for the students to hear about the culture/ religion of Islam from someone who closely follows the religion/ way of life. (The speaker) taught my students things that I could not, through sharing her experience."
Teacher-Lake Park High School

"I would have been happy to listen and learn for 2 or 3 hours. You did a lot in a about period of time. Thanks for coming out."
Hinsdale Public Library

"Just terrific. This has been an excellent program for a library. It was not prosyletizing but very imfornative. There were slides and many visual aids as well as audience participation so even our preteens were not bored. I cant say enough good things about this program. "
Glen Ellyn Public Library


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Teaching About Religion: Do's & Dont's
Questions and Answers Regarding Teaching About Religion in Public Schools

Excerpts from the booklet “A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public School” by the First Amendment Center:

Is it constitutional to teach about religion?
The Center cites the 1960’s school prayer cases (that promoted rulings against state-sponsored school prayer and Bible reading), in which the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that public school education may include teaching about religion. In Abington v. Schempp Associate Justice Tom Clarke wrote for the Court:

“It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effectively consistently with the First Amendment.”

Why should study about religion be included in the curriculum?
The Center addresses this question based on the principles found in the “Religion in the Public School Curriculum: Questions and Answers,” issued by a coalition of 17 major religious and educational organizations.

“Because religion plays a significant role in history and society, study about religion in essential to understanding both the nation and the world. Omission of facts about religion can give students the false impression that the religious life of humankind is insignificant or unimportant. Failure to understand even the basic symbols, practices, and concepts of the various religions makes much of history, literature, art and contemporary life unintelligent...”
How should I teach about religion?
The First Amendment Center provides the following guidelines from the “Religion in the Public School Curriculum” to address this question:
  • The school's approach to religion is academic, not devotional.
  • The school strives for student awareness of religions, but does not press for student acceptance of any religion.
  • The school sponsors study about religion, not the practice of religion.
  • The school may expose students to a diversity of religious views, but may not impose any particular view.
  • The school educates about all religions, it does not promote or denigrate religion.
  • The school informs students about various beliefs; it does not seek to conform students to any particular belief.
May I invite guest speakers to help with study about religion?
The Center recommends that teachers refer to their school district’s policies concerning guest speakers in the classroom. In choosing a guest, the Center suggests inviting someone with the academic background necessary for an objective and scholarly discussion of the historical period and the religion being considered, and encourages utilizing speakers who understand First Amendment guidelines when teaching about religion in public schools.

The Organization of Islamic Speakers Midwest certifies its speakers on the First Amendment Center guidelines for speaking about religion in schools and other public institutions. To schedule a speaker, please contact us at (630) 848-1475 or email admin@oismidwest.org. You may also schedule a speaker on-line at Speaker Request Form.

To review the complete guidelines and to order a copy of “A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools” please contact the First Amendment Center at: 1-800-830-3733 or send an email to puborder@freedomforum.org and request publication no. 99-F02A.

Tips for Teaching About Islam in the Context of Social Studies and World History

Based on our years of experience in providing education about Islam to Social Studies and World History teachers, we make the following recommendations:
  1. Use CIE (Council on Islamic Education) and ISB (Islamic Speakers Bureau) materials found in their catalogues.
  2. Use AWAIR (Arab World And Islamic Resource) materials.
  3. Use TCI (Teachers Curriculum Institute) materials.
  4. Differentiate between the teachings of Islam and the practices of some Muslims, as is done with other faiths. This is especially important if you are referring to news articles about current events.
To reduce the potential of hate crimes and incidences against Muslims in America, and change stereotypical perceptions, we recommend AGAINST the use of:
  1. The fictional books titled "Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind," "The Beduin's Gazelle," and "Seven Daughters & Seven Sons" as complements to your teaching of Islam and Muslims. They present an extremely narrow and stereotypical view of Islam and Muslim cultures.
  2. The film "Not Without My Daughter" as a tool to teach about Islam and Muslims – it was released during the Gulf War and presents a negative and stereotypical view of Muslims – not unlike most Hollywood productions.
  3. The use of the media or Hollywood in general as an authoritative source on Islam or Muslims.
If you have any questions, contact the Organization of Islamic Speakers Midwest at (630) 848-1475.

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Last updated Monday, January 30, 2006 1:13 PM
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