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Strategies for challenging existing geographical imaginaries when teaching US students about the Middle East

Authors: Reecia Orzeck*, Illinois State University
Topics: Geography Education, Ethnicity and Race, Middle East
Keywords: Eduation, Middle East, Geographical imaginaries, racism, information literacy
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Scholarship on teaching and learning has made it clear that students’ existing misperceptions can impede the acquisition of new knowledge, especially when these misperceptions are not isolated incorrect facts but parts of an overarching and deeply-entrenched way-of-seeing or geographical imaginaries. In this intervention, I discuss the results of a study I am carrying out currently in a university-level course about the Geography of the Middle East. The study assesses a) the effectiveness of different pedagogical techniques aimed at getting students to think critically about the provenance of their pre-existing beliefs about the Middle East, and b) whether an alienated stance towards pre-existing beliefs increases student willingness to abandon those beliefs when faced with contrary evidence. Among the pedagogical techniques being explored are auto-ethnography writing and information literacy training.

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