Teach the Islamic Republic of Iran with Children of Heaven

Journeys in Film

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Children of Heaven is a contemporary Iranian film about families, compassion, moral responsibilities and issues of limited resources. This film, shot in and around Tehran, follows the lives of two siblings who are forced to share one pair of shoes after an unfortunate accident. Not wanting to burden their struggling parents, the children must work together and find a solution to deal with this significant loss. The film shows the inner strength we have when faced with adversity.

This first lesson in map-reading and human geography is an important lesson to orient students to the world they will be exploring through the film Children of Heaven. It should be taught before the film is shown. The lesson first explores Iran’s geography in the context of neighboring countries and gives students practice in map-making and giving directions. Students should understand that Iraq and Iran are two different countries with only one letter difference in their names. Iran is Persian-speaking and overwhelmingly Shi’ite; Iraq is Arabic-speaking with a mixture of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. The two countries share a geographical border. You might also make students aware that a map is a culturally-centered artifact, and that our Western coinage of the term “Middle East” implies something that lies between two other entities. If you do not have student atlases, you will have to copy a map of Iran for your students to use.  

The second part of the lesson focuses on why Iran is called an “Islamic Republic,” introducing students to Islam’s history and value system. This lesson seeks to help students understand the nature of this major world religion and the way it affects Iranian lives. 

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