By Michelle Cook
From medicinal plants to algebra to pita bread, the Muslim world has contributed much to society throughout history. To help Canadian teachers and students learn more about Islamic culture and traditions and their impact on modern society, a group of curriculum, multiculturalism and language experts in the Faculty of Education has developed a set of history books for grades 1 to 6.
“Behind this national initiative is the notion of breaking barriers,” says education professor and project leader Rahat Naqvi. “This is a way to promote dialogue, develop awareness and create a bridge between Canadian Muslims and non-Muslims.”
ccording to Naqvi, the initiative is the first of its kind in the world. The books were created to coincide with the launch of Islamic History Month Canada in October. The goal is to present accurate, unbiased information on various aspects of Islam that Canadian students would not normally learn from traditional academic subjects. The books are also designed to help Canadian Muslim children develop self-confidence in their heritage.
Sally Goddard, a teacher, curriculum specialist and graduate student in the education faculty—who helped write the books—says the biggest challenge was turning thousands of years of history into material that would be relevant to modern Canadian students but not too simple.
“What we’re trying to do is help students begin to understand and develop a vocabulary about the Islamic world. Teachers will gain an appreciation for a culture and civilization not always talked about,” says Goddard.
The books, with teacher’s guides, are now available to school boards and the community at large in English and French. Topics covered include food and dietary habits, dress, cultural celebrations and traditions. Plans call for the project to be expanded to grades 7 to 12 and to cover Islam’s contributions in agriculture, botany, literature, design and engineering.
For more information visit http://www.islamhistorymonth.com/.