March 17, 2018

Engaging Students in International Issues: The Choices Approach

Sixteen regional teachers received training on contemporary political issues on March 17, 2018, as 3 the Middle East Center and Penn Museum hosted a special professional development opportunity in partnership with Brown University. Brown University’s award-winning Choices curricula offered approaches on the topics “The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy.” This participatory day introduced teachers to resources for approaching contested international issues in their high school classrooms. The day also featured the Penn Museum’s special exhibition, Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq. A guided tour of this gallery highlighted the ongoing destruction of cultural heritage in the Middle East, and introduced the international efforts by Penn Cultural Heritage Center for protecting cultural heritage.

Overall satisfaction rate of participating teachers was significantly high (3.9 out of 1-4 scale in the teacher survey). Teachers reported that they would use the unit contents by Applying the framework of deliberation, empowering students with info about argumentation, and critical reasoning. Following quotes from teacher reflections demonstrate the positive outcome of this professional development;

“Looking forward to applying what I learned and loved the interaction with the Penn Museum’s amazing collection!” “The most important information that I gained from this workshop is the ability to apply social studies conventions to current issues and global events – especially in terms of discussions from role play.” “The Syria exhibit helped me see some ways to remember the past as it relates to the present.”