Scituate teacher traveling to Turkey to share curriculum

Scituate teacher traveling to Turkey to share curriculum

Scituate High School teacher Tara Seger created the curriculum for Middle East history which she will present in Istanbul, Turkey. She said she created the course two years ago to educate students to form an educated and informed opinion of Middle Eastern culture and affairs.

SCITUATE – Tara Seger, Scituate High School’s modern world history teacher, will travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in June to share her curriculum on current Middle East conflicts for an international education conference.

Seger is wrapping up her second year teaching the course and said the class is focused on understanding and tolerance. Her goal is to allow students to form an informed opinion about Middle Eastern countries through teaching about their culture, history, religions and customs.

“I want to make them informed about the world. This course helps students to understand their world and become a fully informed adult,” Seger said.

She said she saw a need to educate students who lacked confidence when following current events in the Middle East. Thanks to the arrival of Principal Michael Hassel, who asked teachers and students to pitch ideas for new classes, she was able to fill the need.

“It opened up a window to the other side of the world,” Seger said.

She, too, has experienced the lack of understanding of Middle Eastern countries and culture after the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. She said she had taken a trip and gone shopping there just two weeks before the attack, and felt compelled to understand what happened when being bombarded with misinformation.

“The concept was that it was one big, bad place,” she said. “It’s something (students) should understand and not something that should be clumped together.”

The full-year course is offered to high school juniors and seniors and has been full each semester since it began. Students learn about the wars in Iraq, Yemen, and the Gulf, the conflicts between Palestine and Israel, and the Islam crusades.

With an understanding of the history, she said students are better able to follow current events and news coming out of the Middle East.

“It’s really fun and inspiring to listen to the news and adjust the lesson based on what is coming out of the White House last night,” she said.

As the first in the state to teach this course, Seger said she traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a study tour hosted by the World Affairs Council of Dallas/ Fort Worth in March for 10 days to learn firsthand about customs, education, and culture.

Through blogging and online interactions, Seger was able to bring her students across the world and experience the “beautiful, magnificent and luxurious” parts of the Middle East.

She said it was important to her to show students that she, a 5-foot-2 woman from the U.S. could travel to the Middle East alone, safe, and have a fulfilling and transformative experience.

“It was fascinating to see how accepting they are. I thought it was really important to show the students that I could travel by myself overseas and have a really fun time,” Seger said.

The UAE named 2019 the year of tolerance to teach youth about culture and accepting differences.

Seger will travel to Turkey June 24-26 to teach and present her curriculum to other educators from around the world. She said she will share her experiences with her classes in the fall.

Comments

I congratulate Scituate High School teacher, Tara Seger for being invited to visit Istanbul, Turkey. There, she will present her Middle East history course that she teaches to her high school students.
It so happened that in Saturday's (5/17/19) Wall Street Journal there was an article about an important segment of Middle Eastern history. The heading for the article is: "When Turkey Destroyed Its Christians. From 1894 to 1924, a staggered campaign of genocide targeted not just the region’s Armenians but its Greek and Assyrian communities as well." You can read the essay at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-turkey-destroyed-its-christians-115581... .
During that 30 year period of genocide the share of the non-Muslim population was reduced from about 20% to 2% of the Islamic Ottoman Empire's population of about 30 million people. Turkey has steadfast denied this aspect of its history and we do not like to dwell on it either.
However, I think we overlook these unpleasant Middle Eastern facts of history at our own peril.