In your hands

My life as a teacher of English and other curiosities

Too young for this? Not really…

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One question that always bothers me is how to approach difficult topics in the primary classroom. Should I try to protect my students and keep them sealed from the outside world? Or would I act more pedagogically if I prepared them for what is out there? There are sound arguments for both stances:  “they are too young, why should you be the one to introduce painful notions like poverty, racism, injustice at this tender age? They will have all the time to suffer in the future, just try to make your classroom as happy and as innocent as possible”.

“But you are a teacher”, says the other voice. “it’s your duty to prepare them, life is not a bubble to keep them inside forever”.

Whenever I have dilemmas like this, I have a solution – I ask myself: what would you want for your child, what do you do with your child? And the answer is I wouldn’t want my child to not be aware of the darker side of life. OK, I won’t make her life miserable by showing all the injustice and violence of the world but I can introduce her somehow to the notion that not everything is pink and sugary out there. Otherwise I would be doing a disservice to her  and to all my students consequently.

So it was with great interest that I attended yesterday’s workshop with Judy Boyle, organized by the Karditsa English Teachers’ Association. The topic was Human Trafficking and Judy presented some hard-boiled facts as well as the work of the NO-Project organization.

Judy mainly works with teenagers and young people and I agree with her that it is unacceptable to graduate from Secondary Education and never to have heard about Human Trafficking. Our school books claim that slavery has been abolished but this isn’t true. Every year thousands if not millions of children are sold and trafficked mainly for use in the sex trade.

Just reading what I have written above makes me sick. I cannot grasp the notion that a human being is sold and objectified like that, I simply cannot. But it happens and just by closing our eyes it won’t disappear.

So for the moment I am trying to come up with a lesson plan for my sixth graders that will revolve around the two videos below and I hope there will be good response to them.

The first one is an awarded animation film by Effie Papa and it won a prize in 2011 in Animfest, the International Animation Festival that took place in Athens, Greece. Effie Papa was a student at TEI (Technical Education Institute) in Athens at the time. It is a beautifully made video with a powerful message.

 

 

The second one is a song and video clip by Radiohead. The lyrics are really a work of art too and could spark a lot of conversation in class. I could show the lyrics first and have my students guess the content and the story behind them and then show them the video clip which shows this world of injustice as clear as possible.

Thank you Judy for this, and thank you at all the people in Karditsa for organizing it. Tonight at 18.00 there is another event at the same place (ΤΕΔΚ, Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου 10) about projects in first grades of Primary School and about the Barefoot School and different and innovative approaches to education.

More Links that can help you with the Human Trafficking topic:

Jamie Keddie’s lesson plan about human trafficking

The No Project Organisation (You will find plenty of material, videos and info to use in your class)

 

 

One Comment

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