Paradoxes and Problems in the Search for Al Qaeda
These teaching activities are designed to help students in grades 9 through 12 use the documentary "In Search of Al Qaeda" to explore the media's impact on public opinion, the importance of questioning our sources of information, and how we form our views of world events.
FRONTLINE's reporters find their quest to be difficult.
- They are seeking to tell a story that originated in different languages and cultures.
- This is evidenced by the multiple spellings of the names of people (Usama/Osama) and groups (Al Qaeda/Al Qaida) being investigated. (This can be a problem in researching online.)
- In their journey FRONTLINE reporters are often confronted with communication difficulties, the unwillingness of some to speak and an East/West cultural divide.
- As the reporters interview individuals from different areas and backgrounds, it becomes clear that there is not one story but many.
"The Search for Al Qaeda" provides an excellent method for students to learn about current international issues and evaluate the means we use to obtain information. The dispatches, written by FRONTLINE's reporters, provide a unique opportunity for students to observe how information is collected. The documentary presents this information in a concise and compelling fashion.
This teacher guide was developed by Simone Bloom Nathan of Media Education Consultants. It was written by Pat Grimmer, chair of the Social Studies Department at Carbondale Community High School in Carbondale, Illinois. Advisors were Ellen Greenblatt and Faith Rogow.