Here are engaging video summaries of three of the world’s great sacred texts from Annenberg Learner’s Invitation to World Literature.  They include the Mayan and Sumerian creation stories, the Popol Vu, and the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as the Hindu sacred classic, The Bhagavad Gita. In each video, which lasts about thirty minutes,  professors and scholars relate the basic story of each myth along with important history and make connections to other sacred stories around the world. Annenberg allows readers to explore… Read more

Engage your students with other cultures and religions through terrific films and curriculum resources developed by Journeys in Film. In collaboration with USC Rossier School of Education, Journeys in Film selects movies and documentaries from the global film market. They look for relevant and inspirational films with universal themes. Some of the films include The Story God with Morgan Freeman, He Named Me Malala, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, The Dhamma Brothers, or Children of Heaven from Iran. The company writes a summary… Read more

Move over Archie Bunker! There’s a new family on the block confronting stereotypes just as strong and in a manner just as funny! Aasif Mandvi’s new web series, Halal in the Family, takes aim at every Muslim stereotype you can imagine. In one of the first episodes, Spies Like Us, Aasif confronts his son’s white math teacher who says that he’s a Muslim. Aasif is convinced that he’s working for the FBI, reminding us that many people see Muslims as… Read more

Here are two excellent TED Talks that attempt to break down misconceptions and stereotypes about Muslims. In the first talk, Shafique Virani, a Harvard professor of Islamic Studies, urges us to confront ignorance with knowledge. Quoting a medieval Muslim scientist, he notes that he “who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool.” But “he who knows not and knows that he knows not, is a seeker.” In the second TED Talk Dalia Mogahed reminds us… Read more

Some Hindu advocates, including the Hindu American Foundation, are challenging what we teach about Hinduism in K-12 schools and the way some scholars write about it. The debate is so intense that one prominent scholar, Jeffrey Kripal, whose books include Kali’s Child, walked away from Hindu scholarship. And in 2014,  after a lawsuit, publishers withdrew from circulation in India Wendy Doniger’s book, The Hindus: An Alternative History. In California, the debate over what to teach about Hinduism includes efforts to remove… Read more

How did the role of women change over time? That’s the question that historian Amanda Forman tries to answer in this terrific documentary series from BBC. It’s available now for streaming on Netflix. Forman’s tries to answer three questions throughout the series: why did civilization become almost exclusively male, why have almost all civilizations put limits on women’s sexuality, movement and liberty, and what makes the status of women so susceptible to the dictates of politics and economics. The first… Read more

Teaching World Religions? Harvard Divinity School’s new edX course, Religious Literacy: Traditions and Scripture, offers a new approach to studying about religion that all teachers should consider. I am taking the course now and love it.  I can adapt many of the methods to my own high school religion class. Culture provides the framework of the course and is based on the premise that politics, economics, and history provide the best lens for studying religion. Professor Diane Moore teaches the course. She is head of… Read more

The Bridge initiative at Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding chronicles public instances of Islamopohobia. It’s website defines Islamophobia and publishes infographics about it. For example, you can see one here that maps attacks on Muslims. But the accounts of Islmamophobia in the 2016 presidential campaign are the most interesting part of Bridge’s website. The authors compile public statements that exhibit some form of anti-Muslim rhetoric. Put together, these statements, mostly from Donald Trump, paint a disturbing… Read more

This short clip from Business Insider addresses some of the common misconceptions many of us have about Muslims. For example, Muslim women are not required to cover up. And in France, only 367 women wore burqas before they were banned! Did you know most of these misconceptions? Read more

What should we teach about Islam?  by Waqar Ahmedi Waqar Ahmedi is head of Religious Education at one of the leading comprehensive schools in Birmingham, UK. He is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and has served his community in a number of capacities including regional youth leader and chair of education in the Midlands. In the essay below,  Ahmedi explains what we should teach about Islam in the politically charged climate today.   What a roller coaster of a year 2015 was – especially if… Read more

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