Module one: lesson 1 e pluribus unum

Дата канвертавання19.04.2016
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E pluribus unum, “From many, one”
"The Universal is always the same,
the specifics are always different."
-- Robert Aitken


The students will explore the popular concept of diversity in America and how it relates to particular ethnic and religious minorities following the tragedy of 9/11.

Objectives: Students will be able to

  1. Identify elements of cultural diversity through peer interaction.

  2. Explain the meaning of “E pluribus unum” in the context of American diversity.

  3. Compare and contrast their own and others’ perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the wake of 9/11.


  • Time: 45-50 minutes

  • Space for students to walk around comfortably

  • Slips of paper with different countries’ greetings. (Handout 1)

  • “I’m an American” video clip (

  • TV/VCR

  • Reading selections (Handouts 2-11)

IMPORTANT: Set Ground Rules! Teacher sets the parameters or guidelines to ensure that a safe and secure community environment prevails in the classroom.

  • Using the word ROPES (or RESPECT) as an anagram, have students think of words conducive to creating a comfortable environment in which all will feel safe to share and learn from one another.






ACTIVITY 1: Greetings and Diversity

Students will understand that while the giving of greetings is universal, differences in how they are given across cultures underscores the notion of social and cultural diversity.

Time: 15 minutes


  1. Explain that seemingly commonplace gestures, greetings in this case, reflect interpersonal relationships rooted in meanings that differ across cultures.

  2. Randomly distribute the slips of paper with greetings to students. Instruct students not to share their “country” or greeting instructions. (Handout 1)

  3. Allow students approximately 3 minutes to walk around the room and greet each other by performing the “gesture” as described on the slip of paper.

  4. Regroup and process using these suggested discussion questions:

    1. How did it feel to use an unfamiliar greeting?

    2. How did it feel to receive an unfamiliar greeting?

    3. Compared with greetings you typically use, what was different?

    4. Where did these greetings come from?

    5. Besides greetings, what other kinds of customs or norms differ from one culture to another?

    6. Why could America be described as a mosaic of many cultures?

ACTIVITY 2: E pluribus unum: “I am an American”

Student will explore both the importance of and challenges to national motto E pluribus unum (From many, one) in the aftermath of 9/11.

Time: 15 minutes


  1. Introduce the “I am an American” video clip by asking students to explain why the Great Seal of the United States—the national emblem or logo—displays the Latin motto, E pluribus unum, “From many, one.”

  2. Show the video clip, "I am an American.”

  3. Discussion Questions:

    1. What other titles could you suggest for this PSA (public service announcement)?

    2. Why do you suppose this public message was released soon after the tragic events of 9/11?

    3. Since 9/11, why have many Arab Americans, South Asian Americans, and Muslim-Americans felt excluded from the ideal of E pluribus unum?

(Answers could include, for example, negative stereotyping by the media; being singled out as scapegoats; being victimized verbally or physically; being racially or ethnically profiled by officials in public places, etc.)

ACTIVITY 3: Muslim Web

This activity helps students to explore both their perceptions of and misconceptions about one of the fastest growing yet least understood religious minority groups in the United States—Muslims. The purpose is to demonstrate that ignorance or misconceptions about a particular group of people fosters prejudicial attitudes that can undermine the ideals of tolerance and respect for diversity.

Time: 10 minutes


  1. Using the blackboard or an overheard projector, the teacher elicits words or ideas that students spontaneously associate with “Islam” or “Muslim.”

    1. Begin the web by writing “Islam/Muslim” inside a circle, and then cue the students to freely associate whatever ideas come to mind. Connect or “web” their ideas outwards from the circle. These prompts can also be used:

      1. What thoughts or images first come to mind when you see someone in public who appears to be Muslim?

      2. What kinds of impressions do you get about Islam/Muslims through newspapers, network news, movies, and other media?

    2. Ask students to explain which words or terms an American Muslim would find unfavorable or offensive.

  2. Extending students’ knowledge:

  • Tell students that until recently, public opinion polls have suggested that many people in America have held generally unfavorable views about Islam or Muslims even though they—Americans—knew little about Islam. Recent public opinion surveys, however, suggest that more people are now seeking to educate themselves about the religion and its adherents.

  • Ask: Why would Muslim Americans greet this news with surprise?


Students are given introductory readings about Islam: “An Introduction to Islam,” (Handout 2) and the "The Five Pillars of Islam" (Handout 3). Supplementary resources (Handouts 4-11) are highly recommended.


  • Teacher randomly assigns each student an Islamic term or concept from the list below along with accompanying readings: (Note: Other relevant terms may be added at the discretion of the teacher; e.g., words that were generated in the Muslim Web activity.)

Allah (Handout 7)

Qur’an (Handout 6)

Islam (Handouts 2, 5)

Muslim (Handouts 2, 5)

Prophet Muhammad (Handout 8)

Five Pillars of Islam (Handout 3)

Jihad (Handout 9)

Women in Islam (Handouts 10, 11)

  • Instruct students to:

  1. Ask several people outside of class what they know about the assigned word, jotting down notes to summarize their statements.

  2. Then, compare these statements with the information in the readings. How are they similar? How are they different?

  3. Be prepared to present your findings in the next lesson.

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