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What do we say, when our students ask our opinion about Iraq
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Should we discuss the Iraq situation with Students
Yes
68%
 68%  [ 11 ]
No
31%
 31%  [ 5 ]
Total Votes : 16

Author Message
reality



Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2003 11:21 pm    Post subject: What do we say, when our students ask our opinion about Iraq Reply with quote

Question
When I am working, a lot of my students ask me about my opinions about the situation in Iraq. Its beginning to make me feel uncomfortable, because I dont think politics mixes well in the Classroom.

So far its been no problem, but many of my Students are Moslem, and seem very angry about the Situation. Unfortunately I am from one of the Countries that started the War, so its not easy to avoid any discussions about the War.
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MartinK



Joined: 01 Mar 2003
Posts: 344

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...

Last edited by MartinK on Mon Nov 17, 2003 9:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lucy Snow



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 218
Location: US

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 5:45 am    Post subject: Discussing Iraq Reply with quote

Being an American, my students have been very eager to discuss how they feel about the situation in Iraq. I always encourage it, and like MartinK's Canadian friend, use it to introduce new vocabulary.

BUT, my students are not Muslims, and I think if there were, I'd probably shy away from the topic, because it it so emotionally loaded.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11695
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 6:25 am    Post subject: War "Gulf2" Reply with quote

We had instructions on Day One that we should not discuss the war. We are not supposed to discuss politics anyway so that is fair enough. In any case I am teaching English, not International Relations 101. Or War Studies 103.

In most countries that I know there are taboo topics even in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave"
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zakiah25



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 155
Location: Oman

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 6:48 am    Post subject: not too heavy! Reply with quote

One of my female Arab students came out with this joke in class the other day.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?"
Saddam Hussein: "This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it".
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Kent F. Kruhoeffer



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2118
Location: 中国

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 7:35 am    Post subject: political apathy in Russia? you bet Reply with quote

Dear Reality:

I was wondering if someone would raise this question. It has been on all of our minds lately, I think.

Fortunately for me, most Russians tend to be rather politically apathetic and generally don't like discussing politics, not even their own. However, I always try to keep an open mind and am willing to discuss my feelings and answer questions on just about any topic you can name, including Iraq.

As others have already pointed out, there are generally three topics that teachers in general should avoid: politics, religion and sex. However, I'm willing to 'bend the rules' a little here depending on the particular make up and atmosphere of the class in question.

Regards,
keNt
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Seth



Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 575
Location: in exile

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here in China I hear opinions of young children, as I teach at a primary school. Yesterday a little girl said, in Chinese, 'you (Americans) are bad.' I've also heard plenty of 'America is fighting Iraq because they want oil.' Even some adults put forth this view. Yesterday I had my first graders draw some pictures, and one boy drew China bombing America. To the children, I just grin and bear it, as there's nothing really I can do. Everyone in China seems to have forgotten that the US isn't the only one fighting this war, and that 20 some countries have given 'moral support' in one form or another. Given that the majority of English teachers in China are from the 3 warring countries, US, UK, and AU, I'm sure none get as much flak here as Americans do. Anyway, I don't talk about it with children, for obvious reasons. When they ask, I pretend not to understand their questions. Adults in China are generally polite and avoid confrontation, children will let you know what they think, which could be a mirror of what they hear father saying at home.

Different countries have different collective conscious, it's difficult to guage why they think certain ways without being in the culture for a long time and having a basic understanding of the native language. For me, it's not a mystery as to why everyone in China is focused on America and nothing else.
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Shonai Ben



Joined: 15 Feb 2003
Posts: 575
Location: on the floor

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why shouldn't we talk about the war in Iraq?
Current affairs should be part of the free conversation
in every class.The students should be encouraged to
offer their own opinions and feel free to discuss anything
in the news.
During every new discussion you can introduce new vocabulary,
expressions,slang etc..
It makes the classes more interesting imo. Exclamation
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dan



Joined: 20 Mar 2003
Posts: 247
Location: shanghai

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2003 5:19 pm    Post subject: discussing iraq Reply with quote

not only is it permissible to discuss iraq with age-appropriate students, but i think as teachers we are obligated to. repression of any sort leads to very undesirable outcomes. if its on your student's minds, by all means, have an informed, engaging discussion - just make sure to present both sides to the situation (as much as you can), and do your best to remain objective. or, better yet, play devil's advocate while responding to each charge, opinion or "fact" your student offers. this way you will help enable your students to understand how complicated the world is and enable them to conceive of it and their relationship to it in "shades of grey" instead of seeing the world as a binary place consisting of absolutes, i.e. right/wrong, good/bad, true/false, etc. THis way, your students will avoid developing cognitively like a certain moron from texas who is squating in our white house (this is the one absolute i concede).
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12021
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 5:53 am    Post subject: Depends on where you are Reply with quote

Dear dan,
" not only is it permissible to discuss iraq with age-appropriate students, but i think as teachers we are obligated to. " Well, that depends on where you're teaching, I'd say. Here in the Kingdom, bringing up or even just responding to that topic could get you in very serious trouble. I agree that repression can lead to undesirable outcomes, but over here, expression can lead to getting deported. Free speech is not a realistic option in Saudi Arabia.
Regards,
John
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itslatedoors



Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 97

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:41 am    Post subject: Iraq..from someone in the ME Reply with quote

If reminding them that Kuwait,Bahrain and Qatar have all supported the current 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' doesn't work, just use the words 'Insh'Allah' and hope that no one is armed and thinks that you are taking the piss. Cheers to the lads of 42 commando ..give 'em a beasting.
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Capergirl



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 1232
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When my students--some of whom are Arab--ask me questions about my thoughts on the war against Iraq, I merely deflect the questions back to them. I have never given my opinion on the subject in front of them. I do allow them to discuss the issue in class amongst themselves, however. As long as they are able to respect one another's opinions, any topic in English is fair game. I act as a moderator during these discussions only. As an ESL instructor, I feel it is my duty to remain neutral on all discussions of world affairs.
Arrow I have to say that I'm surprised at how level-headed my students are about this issue--unlike some Canadians and Americans I have witnessed. When my ESL students talk about the war, there is no anti-American sentiment, no anger....just thoughtful opinions and insights.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11695
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 1:37 pm    Post subject: talking about Iraq etc Reply with quote

The rules of the classroom are not uniform. It may be expected in a US environment but talking about international affairs could get you in deep doo-doo in many places - not just in Saudi Arabia. In government schools in many countries talking about POLITICS is a definite no-no.

Last edited by scot47 on Mon Apr 14, 2003 6:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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dan



Joined: 20 Mar 2003
Posts: 247
Location: shanghai

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:17 pm    Post subject: johnslat Reply with quote

of course, youre right. a person should be wise to the political atmosphere of his or her environs before taking such a leap, especially a foreigner. although not nearly as threatening to do so i china, i too risked deportation by holding the discussions in class that i did. however, i wasnt monitored like you probably are, nor did i work for a govt school, so i had more latitude than you do. i cant help but wonder if there is way in which you could raise the consciousness of your students about such things without being explicit. writers, poets, film makers and, yes, even teachers have done so since the dawn of tyranny and injustice, and many very successful in doing so. but in the end, probably not worth the risk, as you noted. living there must, in a word, suck.
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dan



Joined: 20 Mar 2003
Posts: 247
Location: shanghai

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2003 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, maybe not film makers.
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