Michael P. Bradley – Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance

In high school textbooks on world history, US history and US government, the world of Islam continues to be interpreted to American high school students in ways consistent with Edward Said’s thesis. In these textbooks, Islam is explored narrowly in its significance to US foreign policy. It is a “problematic” – that is, a serious subject of learning in so far as it represents a challenge to US foreign policy typically framed in terms of oil dependency or energy needs, and terrorism. In world history books, we find additionally to such treatment, a standard, generally fair-minded, exposition of the basic tenets of Islam (the Five, and sometimes Six, Pillars of Islam), and of the rise and fall over time of various Islamic civilizations and societies across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

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