Curbing Anti-Islamic Prejudice through Music Education

A thought occurred to me the other day while reading a few articles about the past and current state of Islam in our national and global communities: If music education can be used as an instrument in teaching students about other cultures, as well as helping them to become more receptive to and respective of other worldviews and belief systems on the whole, then can it also be used SPECIFICALLY to curb the rise of anti-Islamic sentiments and rhetoric that has become increasingly prevalent since the 9/11 terrorist attacks? After all, one of the biggest factors in being more open minded to things that seem different or foreign is exposure – only through exposure can something become more familiar, and therefore seem less threatening. Even if this doesn’t directly counteract anti-Islamic prejudice, it can at least help to reframe the way in which individuals experience and ultimately interpret both Islam and anti-Islamic sentiment. Furthermore, if the platform of a music educator can be used to such ends, how viable/practical would this approach actually be in communities with strong anti-Islamic views? Especially in “red states,” such as Texas, how easy would it be to include this in the public school music classroom without provoking public or political backlash?

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2 thoughts on “Curbing Anti-Islamic Prejudice through Music Education

  1. As a researcher, I have shown that exposure is enough to change a student’s perspective on a foreign culture. As little as a few weeks of instruction can change how someone feels about music that used to seem “weird.”

    As a teacher, I have come up against this problem before. I was teaching music from Turkey, and when I showed them Turkey on the map, many children associated that part of the world with terrorists. The more we educate, the more we undo these associations. What better way than through music to show that these people are people, too? They like music and they like dance. I think we have to tread a fine line between education and activism. I think it is over the bounds of a teacher/student relationship to try to actively change their minds, and this is when you get backlash from parents. By all means, correct misinformation, but tread lightly where political opinion is concerned.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I would love to look into using the Dalcroze Eurhythmics method to specifically address these kind of issues. My supervisor has done some interesting research on how Eurhythmics was used to facilitate conversations about water crises in South Africa. She got some interesting results!!

    There is a lot written about social justice within music education and I think that field strongly connects with your post. I am glad you are thinking about changing people’s perceptions and prejudices through music education. Good luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

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