Moros y cristianos: Teaching the Islamic Presence in Hispanic Civilization in Spanish Classroom

Matthew Kelly, Spanish, Independence High

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


It is important to teach history without playing into stereotypes, popular myths, and popular fringe alternate historical fantasies. Sadly, it is very easy to promote misconceptions if we teach without an acute awareness of the limitations of our students’ historical and geographical understandings. In this unit, we find ways for teachers to integrate lessons about the 1,300-year interaction between Hispanic and Islamic cultures in the Spanish classroom in a manner that is both historically correct and topically relevant. We will touch on such topics as the impact of Arab technological advances in Muslim Spain on the development of Europe, the birth of modern policing in the wake of the Spanish- American war, and the hidden history behind an ubiquitous Cuban dish. Finally, students will explore the joys and challenges Muslim Hispanic chefs face in adapting traditional recipes to suit both the laws of Muslim food purity (halal) and the Hispanic palate.