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What Students Should Know About Syria

Syria-MAP-560x292blog-GETTY.jpgStudents may have heard that the United States recently dropped a bomb in Syria. Or they may have heard about the chemical weapons the country's leader is said to have to attack his own people. They may have heard the country's name among those whose citizens President Donald Trump aimed to ban from traveling to the United States. Or they may have met new neighbors from the Middle Eastern nation who have arrived as refugees. 

How can teachers address the complex and horrific situation in Syria? TED-ed, the youth education branch of the media organization that produces TED talks, has some suggestions about topics to cover:

  • Syria's history and cultural significance, including the many important artifacts in the Mediterranean country;
  • The origins of the refugee crisis and the definition of a refugee; and
  • How different countries have responded to the crisis.

TED includes links to some resources on each of the topics and suggests that teachers encourage students to reflect on their own responses to the crisis and how they might act if they were in a position of political power.  

Addressing current events that are still playing out and being interpreted by politicians, the public, academics, and the media can present a challenge for teachers. It's hard to find classroom materials that are up-to-date, accurate, and unbiased, as I wrote in a story about the 15th anniversary of the attacks on September 11. 

Online resources like this one from TED often fill the gap until the events make their way into the history books. (For more on the evolving landscape of classroom resources, see the recent Education Week special report "Navigating New Curriculum Choices.")

Other organizations have also stepped in to help provide teachers with resources about the conflict in Syria. Brown University's Choices Program offers a lesson on Syria as part of its Teaching the News series. Time For Kids has covered Syria regularly, offering news and information about Syrian poetry, the stories of refugees, and, recently, chemical weapons in Syria

On the Global Learning blog, you can read about how one school used virtual reality to help students in Los Angeles learn about what's happening in Aleppo.

Map source: Getty Images


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