Academic journal article Social Education

Civil War in Afghanistan. (Reflections in a Time of Crisis)(Cover Story)

Academic journal article Social Education

Civil War in Afghanistan. (Reflections in a Time of Crisis)(Cover Story)

Article excerpt



Lesson Sequence

Explain to students that they will be looking at the civil war in Afghanistan as an introduction to the study of civil war in general. Ask students to define civil war (a basic definition is "a war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country") and to identify civil wars (past or present) that they have learned about. Brainstorm reasons why citizens might enter into combat with one another.

Assemble groups of eight students. Distribute copies of Handouts A-D to everybody. Each student should choose one handout to "specialize" in, coordinating with other members of the group so that all topics are covered. Students can begin reading the handouts, finishing them for homework. Explain the next day's activity to them so they will be prepared.

The next day, have students discuss among themselves what they have read, each student taking responsibility for his or her chosen handout. (Research shows that people retain information better if they have explained it to another person). Write guidelines for these discussions on the board:

* Work together;

* Review the countries bordering Afghanistan and identify major landmarks in Afghanistan;

* Review the names of ethnic groups and significant events in Afghan history;

* Practice defining Afghan and Arabic terms and names.

After a twenty-minute discussion, ask the class for questions or comments. (Complex questions that arise might serve as topics for further research.) Then distribute Handout E. Within each group of eight students, students should now pair up and select one of these four ethnic groups to report on, using all of the handouts as their source of information: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Pairs from different student groups may work together if they are researching the same ethnic group, to answer these questions:

* Which political or military faction in the Afghan civil war seems to derive support from this ethnic group?

* What outside nation or political party might be supporting or supplying this faction?

* Are most members of the ethnic group Muslim? If so, to which denomination of Islam do they belong?

Students should be prepared to discuss these questions with their original groups the next day. Tell the class that Handout E is crucial for answering these questions, but that all of the handouts contain relevant information. Each student should give a brief report to his or her group on what he or she has learned about the ethnic group.

Further Research

As an extension activity, students could do further research, in a library or on the Internet, to answer these questions:

* How would someone identify members of this ethnic group? That is, in what ways are members of this group different from other populations residing in Afghanistan?

* With what other group does this group have the greatest conflict? What is the conflict based on?

* How has this group contributed to, or defended itself during, the civil war?

* How has the civil war influenced civilian members of this group?

* What effect has the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States, and the subsequent U.S. bombing in Afghanistan, had on this group?

Alert students to the fact that many newspapers, magazines, and humanitarian organizations have recently produced brief reports and background information about the civil war in Afghanistan (see Selected Resources). In reporting back to the class, students should discuss how an ethnic group may have contributed to the civil war and how each has been affected by it. They might also discuss current events in Afghanistan as they relate to their assigned ethnic group. Students should be encouraged to identify trends, similarities, or dissimilarities, and not simply report data. …

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