The darkest days are upon us, so we create light. Some of us will light candles for Chanukah this week, some will decorate Christmas trees with lights, some will bring light by doing kind things for others who need more light in their lives. At the Center School we lit up Greenfield with the burning of our Hope Tree at Rumpus on Saturday. We sent hundreds of hopes into the world and spent time as a community on that gorgeous sunny day. This week and next, each class will find ways to help folks, in particular, children, through toy drives, sewing warm scarves, gathering over the counter medicines for refugees, and more.
Today I interviewed Josie Dickson-Dulles, our 8th-grade teacher, who is teaching a course in Uppers called World Religions. I was looking for some sort of balm to take the sting out of the totally hateful words Donald Trump spewed with the whole world watching last night. I was looking for ways to reassure myself and others that there are many things to be done in the face of such hatred. I was looking for a way to counteract what he is inciting. Luckily I found what I was looking for in talking to Josie who said,
“As with all of our religious studies, the goal of this unit is to compare belief systems, separate belief from politics and develop empathy in students. We do this by teaching them about the historical context of the founding of Islam, the basic beliefs and tenets, and eventually to compare it to the other religions.
We’re reading from One World, Many Religions by Mary Pope Osborne and Religion in Focus: Islam by Geoff Teece, which are informational texts. We watched My Life, My Religion: Islam which is produced by the BBC and follows the life of a 12-year-old Muslim girl as she talks about her faith and her life. I am also hoping to be able to explore this cool blog I found called 30 Days, 30 Mosques which follows a Muslim man from NYC on a road trip around the country as he visits a different mosque in a different state each day for the 30 days of Ramadan. It’s VERY interesting, and really challenges stereotypes of what a Muslim looks or acts like.
Soon we will begin an artistic investigation of mosque architecture and Islamic geometric design and will be looking closely at the design elements of a mosque and try our hands at designing patterns using geometric shapes, inspired by Islamic design.
Oh, and next week we will visit the Islamic Society of Western Mass to learn more about the practices and beliefs of Muslims in our area. The Imam will answer questions and give us a brief tour.”
And send it (through our children) into the world (with empathy, peace, and light),