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This Teacher Used The "American Chopper" Meme To Teach A Class On Islamic Studies And It Went Great

"The chopper meme was sort of the logical conclusion."

Posted on April 6, 2018, at 11:42 a.m. ET

Matthew Chovanec is a teacher at the University of Texas, where one of his classes is about the rhetoric of Islam in the US.

Matthew Chovanec

Last week he gave his students their first quiz on Sadakat Kadri's history of Sharia law. The subject can be pretty dense, especially for students with no background in Islamic terminology, Chovanec told BuzzFeed News. He knew his students were "stressed" about the test.

"So the chopper meme was sort of the logical conclusion," Chovanec said.

Chovanec / BuzzFeed News

"I sort of dramatically started handing out the page, and the students would laugh as they got it," he said.

Chovanec / BuzzFeed News
Chovanec / BuzzFeed News
Chovanec / BuzzFeed News

The results were pretty impressive.

Chovanec / BuzzFeed News

"Get TF out of Syria."

Chovanec / BuzzFeed News

Chovanec said he could barely grade the papers because he was "laughing so hard."

Chovanec / BuzzFeed News

Chovanec's tweet went viral and people loved his idea.

Today I quizzed my students on Sadakat Kadri's history of Shari'a law by having them fill out the American Choppers meme by using one of the theological debates from the history of Islam jurisprudence. Needless to say, they all got A's

Seth Ellis
Mr Nar

They said it was incredibly pure.


Many people just wanted more.


Other teachers said they'd tried the same thing with their students.

Jen mustapha
Daniel Eden
John Armenta

He said the reaction to his lesson plan had been "really nice," with lots of teachers getting in touch to say they'd try something similar — or sharing examples of when they had.

Jen Mustapha

"We actually use a lot of social media to track conversations about things like 'Shari'a' and the debates about wearing headscarves," he said.

"People used to give me a hard time about my many attempts to wed Middle Eastern Studies and social media," Chovanec said. "So personally I'm feeling a little vindicated this week."

Chovanec said when he first told his class they were "famous," they were all pretty confused. "Then I pulled up the tweet on the screen and they were like, 'Damn Mr. Chovanec, nice ratio.'"

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.