The Iran nuclear issue is dominating the news at the moment, and rightfully so. International politics, diplomacy, the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons are both fascinating and critical elements of security. As the merits of the plan undergo public scrutiny, I’m struck by how little many of those trumpeting their thoughts actually know about Iran, relying too often on recycled tropes about Iranian intentions and what the Iranian people are like.
This matters in an important way: perceptions affect policy.
The proposed timeframe of the deal extends out over decades. Iran is a dynamic society, and although digging for a deeper understanding complicates the picture (and I know it’s already very complicated), it can help us assess both the viability and desirability of an agreement that begins to move Iran in a new direction. The New York Times has launched a series of video reports on Iran that are fascinating. This week’s, “Big City Life,” explores tensions about the role of women, the modern and traditional, and the cosmopolitan forces of the city.
The video would be a perfect launching point for a discussion in a classroom and could also easily be incorporated into the free Choices lesson “Women in Iran.” The lesson helps students to:
- Explore their perceptions of women in Iran.
- Gather information from Choices videos about women living in Iran.
- Practice note-taking skills.
- Consider the possible effects of perceptions on international relations.
The lesson concludes with a discussion that asks to students to consider these questions:
- Is veiling exclusively a religious issue in Iran or does it have any political and social significance as well?
- What do you know about the historical relationship between Iran and the United States? What were key episodes in that history? How might history affect the United States’ view of Iranian society?
- Tell students that policymakers may similarly be swayed by their personal perceptions of other societies. How might this affect relations among countries? Why is this significant?
- How do women’s issues in Iran relate to women’s issues in your country or community? Are there any shared struggles or similar triumphs? Alternatively, students may compare what they have recently learned about women in Iran to women’s issues in other countries or regions of the world that they have studied.