WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Humanising the Middle East


Derek Johnson
1 November 2012

A desire to teach school children about the Middle East amid a dearth of suitable resources spurred mother and daughter Gillian and Lucy Bailey to spend three years developing a social science unit and resource kit for Years 7 to 10 students.

Camels, Terrorists and God? Questioning Stereotypes of the Middle East offers a ‘balanced’ approach to the ‘stereotypes’ of the Middle East, aiming to help pupils form their own opinions about the region.

Research in Wellington schools showed that students (and often their teachers) in New Zealand believed that the Middle East is a dangerous place in need of economic development.

Lucy Bailey who is also a teacher with an MA in historical studies says the course is ‘about making connections and recognising that the kids in the Middle East, especially, are not that different from them’.

The pair started the project in 2009, visiting the region twice to gather material.

Supplementary funding came from NZAID through the Global Education Fund, Christian World Service and Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand.

A dynamic combination of real world materials and internet resources, the full kit includes 16 short films on DVD, videos, lesson plans, a map of the region, more than 300 photos and an online forum for teachers.
A dedicated website offers extra background and links to other material.

The conflicts that have dogged the region for centuries are not ignored, but a human face is provided for the main communities involved. The pair don’t profess to answer the big questions, but ‘to correct misconceptions and explore the unexpected’.

Visit www.middleeast.school.nz for a taste of the diversity of the resource.

Click here for a report on the only Palestinian Christian university, and here for news of the Pope’s recent visit to the Lebanon.