When One of My Students Brings Up Palestine

by Faisal Mohyuddin

Photo by Wendy Alas

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Silence

Step 1

Ask your students to discuss the following quote and its wider implications:

  • “I do not direct our conversation
    back to the dangers of silence,
    a topic every discussion inevitably returns to.”

Step 2

Read “When One of My Students Brings Up Palestine” by Faisal Mohyuddin. When you’re done, briefly discuss the piece. How does the speaker feel throughout the poem? Why?

Step 3

Say, “Focus on a specific example of how the “danger of silence” has presented itself in your life. Has there been a time where you should not have been silent? When? Why? If not, have you witnessed it? Write down as much as you can remember.” Then give your students a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “When One of My Students Brings Up Palestine” by Faisal Mohyuddin in which they recount a specific instance where they remained silent when they should have voiced their thoughts.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Start the lesson by showing your students the following video of Clint Smith’s Ted Talk, “The danger of silence.”

Step 3

When the video is done, briefly address the “dangers of silence.” Ask your student about Smith’s understanding of the topic and how it manifested itself in his life. Then talk about other ways in which silence can be dangerous. Where do they see it in the real world and in their own lives?

Step 4

Read “When One of My Students Brings Up Palestine” by Faisal Mohyuddin. As you are reading the poem to your students, ask them to think about the speaker’s internal conflict and how he is torn between the pull of two opposing forces.

Step 5

When you’re done reading, ask your students to briefly discuss the poem. What was the speaker’s source of conflict? Why? What is his ultimate takeaway from the experience as a whole? And how does it reinforce the talk from Clint Smith?

Step 6

Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to analyze the piece and its contribution toward revealing the “dangers of silence.” Then they will find real-world artifacts that complement the poem and expose the true dangers of silence. When you’ve gone over the instructions, give your students time to work.

Step 7

When the students are done, ask them to share their responses with the rest of the class. What evidence did they pull from the poem?

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Criminal Justice
  • Death / Grief
  • Education Formal / Informal
  • History
  • International
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence
  • War

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying
  • Violence