Recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino sparked concern and conversation across the world. Crossroads’ Elementary School was no different, as fourth-graders broached the sobering subject at a Gathering last month.
“The way people said [“Muslim”], you’d think it was a bad word, a dangerous word, a violent word, a reason to be afraid,” students said during their presentation.
After engaging in dialogue in Council, researching Islam, reading books, watching video clips, hearing firsthand accounts from Muslims who were mistreated because of their beliefs and visiting the Islamic Center of Southern California, the students were eager to dispel some of the negative stereotypes about Muslims and share what they learned.
The students also interviewed their parents and surveyed each grade K-5 to assess their peers’ knowledge about Muslims and their faith. Their findings revealed that, overall, the Crossroads community didn’t know much about Islam, one of the fastest-growing religions in the world.
“We looked back to our list of stereotypes and realized how wrong they were. Some of them were even the opposite of the truth,” the fourth-graders shared. “People say Muslims are dangerous. In reality, Islam teaches Muslims to help people, not harm them. ... People are mistaking the actions of a few for a entire religion and that’s not fair.”
Students concluded the Gathering by encouraging people to speak up if they see someone mistreating another person.
“We can all make a difference, if we’re brave enough to be upstanders,” a fourth-grader said.
Added Joanie Martin, director of the Elementary School: “I am so proud of the fourth grade. I can’t think of any better learning than responding to children’s questions, to delving deep into understanding how to answer them and then to take the stance of being an upstander about hearing things that are not right, that are not just, and becoming committed to changing the stories, to debunking the stereotypes.”