Camels, Terrorists and God? Questioning Stereotypes of the Middle East

Exploring Uncharted Territory in Education

Teaching complex and potentially controversial topics in school can be daunting for teachers, however these can be the most engaging issues for students. Our perceptions of the Middle East are fraught with misconceptions, stereotypes and generalisations, teachers included. So how to teach something when you know your own understanding is limited?

Camels, Terrorists and God?  uses a unique approach to explore global issues of the Middle East. Through extensive digital media and an inquiry learning process, we challenge students and teachers to think critically about what they already know (or think they know) and, by exploring their own questions, gain a deeper understanding of life in the Middle East.

Gillian Bailey (a Geography and Social Studies teacher), Lucy Bailey (a teacher with an MA in Historical Studies) and Rongomai Bailey (a film-maker) developed this resource in order to provide educational material for New Zealand schools, hoping to fill a ‘vacuum’ - as there is a dearth of educational material on the Middle East and few New Zealand schools include the Middle East in their teaching programmes. Research, undertaken in Wellington schools, showed that students in New Zealand (and very often their teachers) believe that the Middle East is a very dangerous place, in need of economic development and with little to interest New Zealanders. By exploring their own interests, students will discover that the people of the Middle East are not so different - they share similar concerns, interests and hopes for the future.

Filming and editing began in April 2009 and was completed in early 2012. The group visited the UAE, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

This website may be used in conjunction with our lesson plans but is also accessible to the public. Students can explore their interests through browsing the site or by following the links on our homepage to our links on diigo or the videos on our YouTube channel. Diigo and YouTube can be searched by keywords or browsed. We do not aim to contain the answers to all possible questions, but rather to correct misconceptions and explore the unexpected.

The full resource kit contains:
  • 18 original short films on DVD

  • Lesson plans (printed or pdf)

  • Regional maps (printed or pdf)

  • 36 photographs on 20 laminated A4 pages

  • Videos for computer viewing (including 10 additional films)

  • 300+ High Resolution digital photographs


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Support was given by NZAID (a division of the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs), CWS (Christian World Service), the Council for International Development, the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Development Resource Centre, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, and Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand.