Saturday, February 21, 2009

Which races would you save?

I read about this on Thursday on A grade 4 teacher in New-Brunswick asked her class of francophone Acadians, in the context of a social studies exercise, to imagine they were on another planet with an anglophone, a black African, a Chinese person, and an aboriginal person. This planet is set to explode. The students were then asked which three people they would put on a rocket an save. Students were also supposed to explain why.

There was a lot of outrage over how ethical this exercise actually was and the New-Brunswick education minister is quoted as being "appalled".

Clearly the goal of the exercise was that students were supposed to be unable to make a choice and explain why. Parents seemed to think this was somehow wrong. I understand that asking 10 year olds to understand that in an exercise such as this the only correct answer is one that isn't provided by the teacher, but I think that it could have been an important stepping stone in their education if they had had the opportunity to complete the exercise and discuss it class.

After all, young minds are easily influenced by all sorts of things. Just look at how many kids you knew growing up used racial slander as a result of what they were taught by their parents or their friends, look at how many people carry these prejudices into adulthood. All this because they were never taught any different. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home free of prejudices and I was taught by my parents that it was wrong, but not everyone has that opportunity and they will go through life with a heart that is programmed to fear, despise, judge and possibly hate people who are different.

Perhaps grade 4 is a little early to try to teach existential lessons such as this one but lessons in ethics have to start sometime, why not start in grade 4? Kudos to this teacher for having the guts to try to teach these kids that racism is wrong and unacceptable. Thumbs down to the parents who complained. Two thumbs down to the education minister for not backing up this courageous teacher and stopping these kids from learning a valuable lesson.

Muchacho Enfermo

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