Free Teacher Workshops Held in Iowa

The Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), an Abdelkader Education Project partner organization, provided free 2-day teacher workshops across Iowa during June and July.

Barbara Petzen, MEPC Teach Mideast Education Director, presented stimulating inter-disciplinary methods of opening minds to creativity as she introduced “Tools to Teach about the Middle East and Islam.” Learn more at

Attendees included K-12 teachers, academic advisors, counselors, community college instructors, home-school teachers, high school students, and others. Sara Steele of Iowa City stated, ”I was reminded through this class that the important thing is not the “right” answers to the questions, but teaching our students how to think critically and have thoughtful discussions on both the questions and their answers. This will give them many Social Studies Skills as well as 21st Century Skills needed to be an effective part of the world.” Participants gained a new depth of knowledge about the region, while focusing on: critical thinking, collaboration, cultural competence, information skills, and more. The class analyzed stereotypes and realities, fostered media literacy, introduced the diversity of Middle Eastern and Muslim cultures and religious experiences, and weighed multiple points of view. Topics covered included:
  • What is Islam and Who is a Muslim?
  • What are the differences among Sunnis, Shi’is, and Sufis?
  • What are the best “teachable moments” in Islamic history?
  • What do people in the Middle East really think about extremism?
  • How do Muslims define gender roles and aspirations?
  • Teaching about the current wave of protests in the Middle East?
  • Why is Elkader named after a Muslim military hero and humanitarian?
Teachers left with broader insight into the Middle East and Islam, and with the tools to bring these new critical understandings to all their students. To schedule workshops, contact: Barbara Petzen or Neil Brandvold, 202.296.6767 ]]>