me: "since we're studying the middle east, we're going to learn about islam today."
pretty blonde freshman: "why do we have to learn about her? and who is she anyway?"
(me staring dumbfoundedly at pbf)
(pbf sees look on my face)
pbf: "j/k mrs. fisher, j/k! ['just kidding' for those of you out of the 15-year-old lingo] but... for real... where is that place?"
(realizing i have more work to do than i thought)
me: "try again. not a girl, not a place..."
pbf: "COUNTRY! it's a country!"
(other students start putting their heads in their hands, shaking them in disbelief)
me: "nope. a country is a place."
finally another student says, "[pbf], it's a religion."
pbf: "oooohhhhhhhh....... that's right...."
me: "so can anyone tell me what people who follow this religion are called?"
one student answers, "muslims."
me: "that's right."
another pretty freshman: "i thought they were arabs."
me: "no. that's their ethnicity, if they're from the middle-eastern region."
apf: "oh. so don't they speak muslim?"
me: "no. muslim is an adherant of islam."
apf: "so what do they speak?"
me: "well, if they're arab, they would speak arabic. if they're american, they would speak english."
apf: "so what do arabs speak?"
apf: "i thought that's what muslims spoke."
this led into a conversation about how, as one student pointed out to another, we don't speak american; we speak english (apparently new information). i used the example of how people from mexico- mexicans- don't speak mexican; they speak spanish. this led into a conversation about the differences between spaniard, mexican, hispanic, and latino.
apf: "so what do latinos speak?"
apf: "so who speaks latin?"
me: "no one. latin is a dead language."
apf: "WHAT???? how can a language be dead? and why are they called latinos if they don't speak latin?"
i quickly answered the question and moved on to the lesson on islam. about half-way through, the notes containted some text unknown to the students.
pbf: "what are those squiggly lines?"
another student: "that's arabic."
pbf: "ooohhhhh...... so that's what muslims speak?"
update: pbf just came into my classroom to ask me a question about her grade. just to prove what she had learned, she said, "islam is a country... NO... i mean... religion." she sighed proudly. "good job," i said. "and what are the people who follow islam called?" "arabs." "no." "oh...uh....muusssllliiiiims?" what a feeling of accomplishment.