Include information about the Arab world and Arabic Australians in your classes. There is much to learn from Arabic contributions to general history, literature, music, art, science and math. Also inform your classes about Arabs and Muslim Australians, who have long histories and have contributed greatly to our country today;
Integrate information about the Arab world in to classes on current events, even in cooking, textiles, drama, and especially media.
Don’t avoid issues such as September 11, Israel/Palestine and a War in Iraq as “too complex” or “too controversial.” These vents are a major part of world history, and students need to understand the issues to understand the world. Ensure that as a teacher you are well informed of all sides of an argument and if necessary, contact local organisations for guest speakers;
Ensure students can understand the contributions and rich culture of the Arab world. Remember that while Europe was in the “Dark Ages”, the Arab world was the centre of world civilization. Ensure the students are aware of how the scholars of the Arab world at this time partly ensured the Renaissance was possible through trade, cultural, and scientific links to the Arab-Islamic civilization.
Celebrate the positive aspects of Arabic culture and the Arab world. For example close family ties and extraordinary hospitality.
Teachers, when confronted with attitudes that border on racial vilification can ask where such perceptions have been formed.
This can be then part of a wider discussion on stereotypes, looking at how, for example, Australians are presented through stereotypes (Paul Hogan) and what we are like in reality (city dwellers, diverse);
Negative stereotypes from film, for example, can correspond with an open discussion about well known members in our community of Arabic background. Through this process, students can learn from popular culture and recognise stereotypes as a toll to simplify – or demonise – not only the Arabic community, but many diverse people and complex issue. This also teaches students to think critically and prepares them for a complex world where adults need to “decode” the rhetoric of the media, and “experts.”
Speakers from various diverse community groups can brought in school to answer questions and speak to the students;
Compile a list of such speakers from different cultural groups in your local community;
Build on the education brought about by multicultural days with food and dance, and show that cultures go beyond this simplistic view of multiculturalism through:
Guest speakers (such as prominent Australians from different ethnic groups) can be invited to workshops and assemblies where they can share their experiences;
Workshops with these people and smaller groups of students could be implemented; for example, an Arabic historian can conduct a history lesson incorporating Arabic contributions to history. Or, a local Muslim artist can run an arts workshop teaching the intricacies of Islamic art.
Initiate peer groups within schools made up of younger and older children where issues of racism are discussed. It is important that the students ‘own’ the programs and can act in the formulation of school policies. Encourage them to be the leaders and take responsibility for implementing positive initiatives;
Exchange programs with other schools of children from different ethnic backgrounds could also be facilitated. This should be an ongoing program with follow-ups and continued communication and should include rural and city schools;
Social activities should be regularly arranged between schools, particularly with schools of a different cultural or religious make-up, implementing inter-school activities, workshops and excursions.
Act against racial vilification
Improve the system for reporting and dealing with racism in schools;
Use incidents as a basis for discussion. When a joke is told that is “anti Arab” or “anti-muslim”, analyse in the class why the content can vilify their Arabic and Muslim friends, and why such jokes can be harmful. Correspond this with an example of jokes that can hurt all kinds of people of diverse backgrounds, religions and appearances. Ensure students are aware that the feelings of their fellow students feelings matter and should be respected.
Report serious incidents to the school and ensure there are processes in place at your school to take that complaint seriously.
- Review (or contact the AAC to review) textbooks, curricula, and resources for bias.
- Ensure there are adequate resources in the library on issues of diversity
- Inform the AAC about problems you identify. We may be able to help.
Use resources available to initiate and facilitate discussions about diversity, identity and racism with experienced practitioners