Empathizing with Iraq’s Bombings

I’m still wrapping my mind around the idea that more than 100 people were killed in a coordinated series of attacks throughout Iraq yesterday.

This 10-minute video is an example of how we might approach such an event at Triangle Learning Community middle school (opening in fall 2013).

Student questions would, or course, influence the direction our exploration took, but we’d for sure spend time reading and discussing this article about the bombing from the New York Times, look at this gallery of images from the Washington Post, and consult other sources.

This minute and a half video made by the Associated Press does a good job of giving us a sense of what happened in Iraq, and could spark some conversation and elicit questions from students.

Digging in to figure out why these bombings happened and what it all means would take several weeks. One of the distinguishing features of TLC middle school is that we have the flexibility to give students time to slow down so they can empathize with (and start to understand) what’s going on in our world today.

In the process, students would learn about such topics as the Sunni/Shia split, Al Qaeda, 9/11 (recall that most middle schoolers were not born when 9/11 happened, and most schools don’t teach about it), the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ramadan, and a host of other topics.

By reflecting on what they learn about this topic over a few weeks, students will develop their written, verbal, and even multi-media skills, as they wrestle with a challenging and important real-world topic with real consequences — what’s going on in Iraq and how did things get that way?

That’s the sort of challenging question that middle school students are capable of wrestling with. At TLC, learning facilitators (our term for “teachers”) will provide the support and mentoring to allow our students’ exploration of the world to be as meaningful as possible.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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