School Curriculum and Islam

Posted on November 21, 2013 by

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In the “Protesters: Volusia history text ‘indoctrinates’ students in Islam” article I found on the Daytona Beach News-Journal website, concerned community members protest the local school district’s use of a world history textbook that emphasizes the Islamic religion in a chapter, which they claim is unequal to the amount of pages devoted to other world religions. Protesters are worried that the textbook is trying to teach Islam to students rather than teaching about Islam to students. 

Being introduced within the article as a,“self proclaimed patriot”(Protestors), Rick Sarmiento, a member of the community most prominent in protesting the use of the textbook claims that the text covering Islam far exceeds the number of pages devoted to any other religion within the textbook. When he learned from a student that the text required students to read sections of the Qur’an, he felt that it was promoting the practice of Islam rather than the education about Islam, which was problematic for him. When analyzing this man’s point of view, it should be noted that he is not an educator with years of training of how a world religion should be taught within public schools. Also it is important to consider Sarmiento’s lack of attendance within the classroom while the subject was being taught. To further question this self proclaimed patriot’s motives and beliefs, he even went as far as to recruit “student volunteers to tear the chapter out of the books” to protest its use in the school (Protestors). 

This response by Sarmiento to tear out the section of Islam within the textbook seems rather extreme, not to mention is a destruction of school property. His actions completely disrespect the tremendous amount of money and time spent on choosing a textbook (in all likelihood in which numerous collaborative efforts were made) several school officials decided was appropriate for the education of their students. It’s not considered very patriotic to destroy school property and disrespect schools whose main purpose is to teach children to become well-informed, productive members of society in hopes of promoting and maintaining the great country that America already is. 

From the perspective of school district officials, this protest does little to change minds about the curriculum, but rather reinforces that Islam and all other religions are not taught in schools to convert students, but rather to inform students. According to the school’s superintendent, Margaret Smith, the district has implemented the book as apart of its world history curriculum because the book is not impartial to any one specific religion but instead “…present a balanced approach to teaching about Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Smith said, adding, “I want them to understand we are not biased in our teaching”(Protestors). The superintendent clearly argues that the main point of learning about these religions is intended solely for the purpose of education. Her knowledge of what should be taught within a school and how it should be presented within the classroom in verified by her position as superintendent of the school district. She is required to have the education and knowledge of what students should be taught and exposed to in today’s society. A superintendent’s job is to ensure the education of America’s children, in hopes that they will become more well rounded citizens that can make decisions without ignorance and lack of perspective. 

Teaching Islam within the schools, like this article shows, may make some people upset, especially since Islam carries such negative connotations within American society. However these protests are unjustified because the school is not teaching Islam to it students, but rather informing students about important aspects of the religion The consquences of ignorance to understand Islam are tremendous because we are depriving students of what the real world is like and to gain perspective and knowledge about what life is like outside traditional American customs and traditions. It’s important to educate our students so that they are tolerant and accepting of all people. The consequences of refusing to teach students about diversity only perpetuates negligence, misunderstanding, tension, and violence. 

Trimble, Linda. “Protesters: Volusia History Text ‘indoctrinates’ Students in Islam.” News-JournalOnline.com. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013.

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Photo Credit: News-Journal/Jim Tiller 2013

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