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Is Diversity a complex historical concept? 07.04.2017 - 08.04.2017

Maha Shuayb, Nayla Hamadeh, Amine Elias and Jihane Francis facilitated workshop 3 “Is Diversity a complex historical concept?” which took place on April 7-8, as part of the “How to make our students young historians?” program. Participants were engaged in a variety of activities to study diversity by looking at overt and covert similarities and differences in the past. They challenged generalizations that label certain historical periods. For example, they studied the term ‘dark ages’ to uncover what is hidden in it, and they considered the concept of ‘victim’ and ‘who were the victims of the civil war in Lebanon?’. Then they went on a trip to Cordoba to explore what is hidden in its story on diversity in 9th century Andalusia. For two days, facilitators worked to empower teachers to address diversity in their classrooms and to design learning activities and assessment.

“Is Diversity a complex historical understanding?” Indeed yes, it is complex; however, facilitators’ team developed around it a variety of activities to ensure that participants engage in continuous exploration and reflection throughout the two days. Through an ice breaker activity, teams were challenged to build the tallest tower designed using a few pasta sticks and one marshmallow. Then the serious work began to look into the concept of diversity, and what it reveals about similarities and differences at a certain period in time. Participants were also able to examine many generalizations created by historians to explain history in its vast eras, then to challenge them and come up with new historical claims.

The “How to make our students young historians?” third workshop contributed in enriching teachers’ historical knowledge through two beautiful articles that they read and discussed thoroughly. Through Bradshaw’s “Drilling Down”, teachers learned about the challenges that might be encountered when incorporating the concept of diversity into the history school program. “The Fall of the Umayyad State” by Philip Hitti, planned as a preparation for an activity on diversity in Andalusia, triggered deep and revealing discussions and contributed in higher level thinking about the past as well as the present. How wonderful it was to think and learn together … and plan together!

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