A group of 20 K-12 teachers from Pennsylvania and NJ met this past Wednesday to discuss politics of religion as a part of a teacher training at Camden County College. The workshop, co-sponsored by the South Asia Center and the Middle East Center, was led by Afsar Mohammad, a senior lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.
Teachers started out the day by learning the basics of India’s economy and of South Asia’s religious landscape. Before Dr. Mohammad went into detail about the different religions and their interactions, the group shared their perceptions of Hinduism and Islam and the reasons behind their beliefs.
Dr. Mohammad, whose research areas include South Asian Islam and Hinduism and as well as religions and literatures in South India, spoke to teachers about the influence of religions on the Indian sub-continent and some of the reasons behind the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, the Babri Mosque demolition of 1992, and the Gujarat Riots of 2002.
After several sessions mixing lecture, discussion, and questions, teachers spent 40 minutes working on lesson plans incorporating content about South Asian religions and the justification of violence and non-violence for their respective classes. Some lesson plans focused on analyzing post-independence struggles in South Asia, while other teachers chose to write content focusing on vocabulary and major religious texts.