Unraveling the Dream World Stereotype of the Arab People

byPriya Talreja

There is no such thing as an unbiased history. Because of this we need to teach historical thinking in the classroom to help students recognize bias that influence the way historical information is recorded and remembered. This unit is situated in the tenth grade World History classroom.

At the heart of this lesson is the book by T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom. This unit gives students the opportunity to see the challenges with an unreliable primary source such as this book. Students also study parts of the film Lawrence of Arabia, which solidifies the dream world stereotype of the Arab people that Lawrence developed. Students analyze Lawrence and his views about the Middle East by studying his personal life and the events of World War I and imperialism. Using this information students connected Lawrence’s views to the theory of Edward Said’s Orientalist. Students use both primary and secondary sources to help evaluate the following essential question: How are stereotypes used to diminish the contributions of colonized people?

(Developed for World History/Imperialism and WWI, grade 10; recommended for World History/Imperialism and WWI, grade 10, and Geography and World Cultures/Middle East, grade 9)

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