Local teacher breaks down tensions in Middle East when students ask


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As Americans begin to unpack the Middle Eastern tension, some of the CSRA’s youngest people are left with questions.

So, NewsChannel 6 went to a local school to understand how the U.S. and Iran conflict we see in the media plays out when students want to know more about it in the classroom.

While discussions are happening in the walls of Washington, D.C. about the Middle East, similar talks of concern swell in the halls of local schools.

“We’re going to take a look today at the scientific revolution,” Bill White said to his students.

It’s the start of a new semester for Bill White’s Government and Social Studies classes at Augusta Prep.

But as kids settle into the 2020 curriculum, a lot of current events questions loom, such as, are we entering World War 3?

“These questions are inspired, turns out, by memes that are made lightly and that may be a source of information for these students that may not be the best source of information for our students,” he explained to NewsChannel 6.

Even though his curriculum dictates an entirely different topic right now, a timeline that is vital to keep, especially with AP classes, White addresses the more serious matter when prompted.

He said he teaches his students how to let history play out first before making a decision and he encourages his students to read multiple news sources.

But in his history class, he goes back a few years to help students understand the Iran conflict. He added that it’s a time before they were even born.

“Well, with the removal of the Shah after the Iranian revolution. The Shah was supported by the United States and by many western nations. Tension sort of begin there and of course, with the U.S. hostage crisis that unfolded. More recently, the tension has to do with the nuclear agreement that we have pulled out of,” he said.

And the classroom isn’t the only place students learn. White said parents have a role too.

“A parent who reads news headlines, who reads the news or watches the news or listens to the news in front of their children is sort of modeling this idea of being informed,” he explained. “But if they can take that opportunity to talk to their kids about what they’ve just listened to or what they’ve just read and ask them their opinions and see how they feel about it, they can begin a dialogue that makes it easier for them to talk about these kinds of current events.”

White stresses that while he is the students’ teacher, he does not want to tell them how to think, rather to be more informed.

Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins

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