As part of the 8th grade exploration of cultures along the ancient Silk Road, Middle school history teachers John Boger and Jordan Bentley broke their classes down into small groups and each group was assigned one of four world religions that emerged along the Silk Road: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism. Modeled after a discussion held by Mongke Khan in the 13th Century, 8th graders, representing one of the above religions, participate in a roundtable discussion. The simulation began with faculty members being interviewed by a small group of 8th graders, as “lost souls” on a spiritual journey looking to lead more moral lives. The students were tasked with learning about the “lost soul” so they could show how their assigned religion’s moral and ethical journey would be best for them. After the faculty interviews, the tables were turned, and the “lost soul” got to ask the questions, pulling out a deeper understanding of the student’s assigned religion. Some of the questions posed were “how does your religion view good and evil?” “what is one quote that highlights the essence of your religion?” “draw me a visual representation of the most an important symbol in your religion,” and “how is your religion represented, both correctly and falsely, in popular culture?”
The whole process is an interesting and creative way for our students to think critically, and to learn more about the religions of the world that emerged along the Silk Road.