Monday, January 30, 2017

We cannot be silent

Living in Canada, next to the United States, is like sleeping next to an elephant, someone once said. (I looked it up. The person who uttered that quote was former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.) Even if it looks like we are not directly involved with their state of affairs, it impacts us. This past weekend, the new president of the United States signed an executive order, which he called "Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States", to strictly restrict immigration from seven specific countries, and to completely prevent any refugees arriving in the US from Syria. This threw airports into chaos as people with green cards were denied entry and other visitors were sent back. That this was done on Holocaust Memorial Day was especially ironic.

My friend, Jennifer Brown, was upset. She wrote about it on her blog. (I wish I was as passionately articulate as she is.)
My virtual friend, Rusul Alrubail, whom I infer did not travel to #educon because of the current political situation, posted this practical advice for people:

As educators, what should we do?  Should we keep politically neutral? Should we avoid controversy? I made my plans public and clear on Twitter -

My goal is not to indoctrinate, but to think critically. My aim is to examine current events and understand what's happening and why.

This is not easy for everyone. Look at Doug Robertson's dilemma (read the top tweet second; read the bottom tweet first).

  1. Prefer to bring it up directly, but convos w parents after discussing Women's March have shown me I need to be sure to couch in standards.
  2. Trying to think of a way to bring up the in class. We recently discussed the Statue of Lib. Could talk her engraving.

This is why organizations like Teaching Kids News @TeachKidsNews on Twitter, are vital. I hope that within the next couple of days, they will have a student-friendly news article for teachers to read with their class on the topic. For instance, here is a kid-friendly news article about the inauguration and the Women's March the following day. It strives to provide facts and promote discussion.

To those of you in schools where you might be labeled an "agitator" for mentioning this issue, I have something for you. I'm working with my Grade 1-5 students on an inquiry unit on clothing. One aspect that I will need to address, because it is part of the media literacy expectations, concerns overt and implied messages. This tweet, posted by a new virtual friend of mine, is perfect for teaching overt and implied messages to my students.

The overt message is what is stated in the flyer. The implied message can be understood by the words she attaches to the photo, as well as the knowledge of recent current events. This is how I can "justify" bringing up the topic, even to younger students. We shouldn't have to justify equity education, but in case you need a reason, take mine.

Not teaching media literacy? What about math? Take a look at these statistics. Find the source. Discuss the rationale.

If you have older students, why not try what @JessLif is doing with her students. She is using the same prompts, but a new text.

Whatever way you choose to address this topic, do it. Thank you to my Twitter pal @t8ish1 for bringing this article and video to my attention. We can't be silent. Silence implies consent. We cannot consent to people being tried and judged not by their actions but by their countries of origin.

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