The Middle East Conflict
Video Summary: How do you introduce to sixth-graders a topic as complex and controversial as the Middle East? Justin Zimmerman starts by asking guided questions to assess his students' background knowledge of the region, then has them practice their negotiating and conflict resolution skills. (Note: This lesson was taught prior to September 11, 2001.)
First, Mr. Zimmerman asks his students to define the region geographically and to identify the major religions of the Middle East: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Then, to engage students and help them understand how complex the problems in the region are, he has them wrestle with two hypothetical situations analogous to those faced by the people living in the Middle East: Students must choose which of three academic subjects is most important to their education, and defend their choice; then they must choose which one of three siblings is entitled to their parents' house.
Next, the class is divided into three groups, each representing a major religion of the Middle East. Students use primary source material to document their group's right to lands claimed by all three. Mr. Zimmerman asks students to think about possible solutions to this conflict, reach consensus as a group, and present their resolution to the class.
As the lesson concludes, Mr. Zimmerman urges students to read newspapers and news magazines, watch news accounts and documentaries on television, and search out Web sites about the Middle East to stay informed about this volatile region of the world.