Irshad Manji tells of teacher’s role in helping her move past the father’s abuse

Staff Report

As a grade schooler, Irshad Manji was desperate to get out from under a roof that covered the extreme physical and emotional abuse leveled by her father.

So it was only appropriate that after he threatened her with a knife, Manji formulated her plan after scaling to the top of that roof, looking out into the night and deciding to leverage education to not only get her out of her situation but to help make sure others did not have to endure the same torture.

Photo contributed
Irshad Manji is the latest guest on Dunn School’s podcast “The Whole Student.”

“I made clear to myself that’s what my education was going to be about,” said Manji, who was a guest on the latest episode of Dunn School’s “The Whole Student” podcast. “It’ll be about human rights, it’ll be about justice, and it’ll be about empowerment.”

Manji, a bestselling author and renowned educator and lecturer, went on to discuss how her high school theater teacher, an Evangelical Christian, helped restore her faith in men and humanity through kindness and understanding, despite their differences and she being a Muslim woman.

The anecdote falls directly in line with Manji’s latest book, “Don’t Label Me,” which proposes ways to heal political, racial and cultural divides through moral courage.

“The Whole Student” podcast is a visual-forward broadcast published on YouTube and the Dunn School website that asks prominent people to share stories about the teachers who inspired them to become the leaders they are today. The audio format of the show may also be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music and other podcasting platforms.

In addition to the podcast appearance, Manji will also lead an Inclusion Lab Zoom Workshop presented by Dunn School on Jan. 29, 2022, titled “Inclusion Through Moral Courage.” Founded by Dunn head of school and “The Whole Student” host Kal Balaven, the Inclusion Lab is an association of independent and public school administrators in Santa Barbara County united for the purpose of taking practical steps toward promoting inclusion on school campuses.

“What an immense privilege it was to host Irshad’s story on ‘The Whole Student,’” Balaven said. “Thankfully, our opportunities to engage with such a brilliant and thought-provoking leader does not end when the podcast does. I encourage anyone interested in hearing more about her philosophy to get in touch and find out how to attend her upcoming Inclusion Lab workshop.”

Manji’s episode is the third so far, following the podcast’s debut, an interview with James Joyce III in his run up to the Santa Barbara mayoral election, and the second episode with Instagram Vice President of Engineering Maria Zhang, which kicked off a series featuring successful women in STEM.

The show is produced under the DunnCast umbrella with the intent to distribute additional podcast content alongside “The Whole Student.” That includes learn-by-doing opportunities for student-directed multimedia projects and shows.