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Discuss Muslim Refugees and National Security

This provides teachers the materials and guidance for students to learn different perspectives on the issue of national security and the immigration of Muslim refugees from Syria, discuss them and listen to each other in a respectful and civil manner, and appreciate differences while finding common ground.

With news and materials from left, center and right sources plus a structured process for discussion, teachers, administrators and parents can be assured that multiple points of view are discussed and respected in a civil, beneficial manner.

☛ Teachers! Have you done the Relationships First component in your classroom yet? Consider starting with it to establish a solid foundation. ☚

Primary Learning Goals:

Also see how this program complies with Common Core standards.

  • Collaboration: Students will discuss national security while working in small groups (if a large class) or as an entire class.

  • Civil conversation and conflict resolution: Students will learn how to listen, understand and respect one another’s views, especially when there are differences of opinion and background.

  • Research and analysis: Students will have a deeper understanding of the different perspectives on refugees and national security, including their own, their classmates, and the country at large, through researching the topic across biases and discussing.


References for Understanding:

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Particulars of Class Activities for 1 Day Program:

★ This can be done as a single class or over several class periods. Extending the lesson will allow for more in depth understanding.★

  • Homework prior to class:

  • In Class

    • Optional based on class size: Teacher divides students into small groups, preferably a mix of biases. (Have students complete a simple bias quiz for homework 2 days prior so the Teacher has a chance to evaluate if similar has never been conducted previously.)

    • Background: What do you know about the Syrian refugee crisis? Should America accept more or less refugees than we are already? Or should we take none at all? Should our country play a bigger role in solving the conflict in Syria that is causing the mass exodus?

    • How might stereotyping Muslims lead to blaming them? Why should refugees be accepted in foreign countries (including our own)? Why shouldn’t they? What lead to you to these beliefs? Do you think the vetting process is strict enough to be resettled in the U.S.? Should we take children (who some consider are less of a risk) without their parents? Is it ethical to accept Christian refugees and not Muslim ones? Is it ethical to ask refugees their religion?

    • If an individual from Syria assists the United States in combating local terrorist activities, does the United States have a responsibility to protect that individual, perhaps even giving that person unique status for resettlement in the United States?

    • How would you feel if you were a refugee and had to flee your home and move to another country? How would you feel if multiple countries didn’t want to take you in, based on where you were coming from?

    • Engraved on the Statue of Liberty is Emma Lazarus’ poem:

      Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

      • How do you think those words apply to the situation we are facing today? Are they still relevant?

    • Deeper Meaning questions: How have you been personally impacted by the refugee crisis in the Middle East? Do you have concerns about your family’s safety? If so what are you most worried about? Which American values are most in play or at risk in considering Muslim refugees for resettlement in the U.S.? Do you have people of Muslim faith in your community? What role do they play? Is it possible to be welcoming of refugees and concerned about terrorists crossing borders? If so, what kinds of solutions could address both considerations? Was there something you were hoping to ask or share in this conversation?

    • Final Questions to pose to students, either as homework or just as a wrap up: What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here? Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?


    Read about Learning Goals and Common Core Standards that our Schools Program addresses.