Ignorance about Islam and the Middle East remains widespread in the United States, and while the role of mainstream media is regularly scrutinized, the role of formal education in dissolving common prejudice and enabling international understanding is normally overlooked. This paper considers the potential educational need posed by American ignorance about Islam and the Middle East, focusing on three major interrelated questions. First, what is known about Islam by Americans today? Second, what factors - political, cultural, institutional, and so on - enable widespread ignorance about Islam and the Middle East on the part of average, educated American citizens? Third, how might formal education allow for greater cross-cultural/multi-cultural understanding of societies outside the United States? In answering these questions, the author considers various theories of cross-cultural interaction (from the "clash of civilizations" to Foucauldian knowledge/power and Orientalism) as well as contemporary educational theories on multiculturalism and the politics of education.
|Keywords:||Education, Culture, Difference, Educational Theory, Islam, American Politics|
Instructor, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, USA
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