Fundamentalism is a powerful and complex concept. It has strong religious, political, and social implications that affect local, national and global communities, including pupils. It is, therefore, an important area to study, but it must also be explored thoughtfully and sensitively in the classroom.
Spend some time discussing the origin, use and meaning of the term "fundamentalism". Use a newspaper article or quotes from this feature as a stimulus. Challenge pupils to create their own definition of the term.
Next, ask pupils to scan the media for other references to "extremists" or "fundamentalists". Does their definition still apply? How are fundamentalists portrayed? Is there a common context in different articles? How might the fundamentalists define themselves? How might they have written a chosen article?
Follow up this work by debating a motion about fundamentalists - ideally one that the pupils create for themselves, such as "This house believes that fundamentalism is defensible".
Alternatively, pupils might consider what role education or thinking skills have in creating healthy societies. (Visit www.sapere.net for the Philosophy for Children approach to teaching and learning).