Teacher Workshop on Muslim Cities in the Middle Ages

Teacher Workshop on Muslim Cities in the Middle AgesCenter X teacher workshop (Photo: CNES/UCLA)

K-12 educators attended a 4-day workshop on Baghdad and Cairo as medieval sites of encounter.

In 2016 the California State Board of Education adopted a new Curriculum Framework for History and Social Science Instruction. Seventh grade world history explores how regions of the world became interconnected through the expansion of agriculture, cities, and human population, along with how major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism) and systems of knowledge (Confucianism, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment) developed and changed as they spread to new regions. Threaded through the framework is the theme "Sites of Encounter", places where merchants, travelers, and scholars exchanged products, technologies, and ideas. These exchanges sparked new ideas and cultural productions, which then diffused outward from the site.

In June, the History-Geography Project within UCLA’s Center X offered a 4-day teacher workshop focusing on Baghdad and Cairo as medieval Sites of Encounter. The goals of the workshop were to increase educators’ content knowledge in selected areas of Islamic history and civilization, expand their pedagogical skills, and provide curricular resources. The workshop also considered the challenges of teaching about Islam in the current xenophobic environment of the U.S.

Young Library Special Collections (Photo: CNES/UCLA) The program introduced a variety of authentic materials such as historical manuscripts, coins, maps, and archaeological finds (for example, an Islamic ring found in a 9th century Viking grave), as sources to bring students closer to the reality of global medieval life. One highlight of the workshop was a guided tour of the Young Research Library’s esteemed collection of early and classical Islamic manuscripts in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic on topics encompassing astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and religion. The teachers were invited to consider ways they could incorporate such sources into their lesson plans. With their new knowledge of content and resources, teachers will be able to enrich the lessons they offer 7th grade students.

The event was cosponsored by UCLA's Islamic Studies program (with generous support from the Islamic Studies-MRI fund) and the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. All partners hope to make the workshop an annual event.

Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2017