#atozchallenge: Politics in the Classroom

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This year’s election cycle is a popular source of conversation with my students. There are lot of big personalities and a lot of bombastic things that show up in social media. So many times, they try and pull me into the conversation. It is not moral or ethically appropriate for me to discuss politics except obviously if someone is saying something bigoted. It is very difficult to walk along that line.

There is also a lot of discussion amongst my students of colour (or non-white students, for those who want to nitpick) about what it means to be “woke”. Being “woke” is being aware of the problems in society and knowing that there is still a struggle in the fight for human and civil rights. I say this without bragging, but all of my non-white students have called me “woke” at one point or another. Often I want to point out that as a woman of colour, I have felt some of their struggles as well. But I just take the compliment and continue on.

One of the most difficult conversations I had this election season has been during the moments before a soccer match. My players, sitting together and chatting, began questioning one student’s choice on supporting Donald Trump. I don’t support Trump, but my students don’t know that–they could probably guess, but I refuse to say one way or another. I had to cut their conversation short because their questions were becoming aggressive and I didn’t feel like it would be a very helpful conversation.

Being a teacher means that you have to model proper behaviour at all times, even when you disagree with what’s happening, unless it is detrimental to the health and welfare of your students. It is so difficult to do so, but I have to say that it’s an important part of one’s job. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by Brigitte Werner

#atozchallenge: The Moral Relativism of a Global Citizen

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People who are bi- or multi- lingual tend to have different personalities when they switch languages. I speak multiple languages fluently, and perhaps I have seen a difference in what I think/how I express those thoughts, but I am just one person, and anecdotes are not data.

Do people who have lived around the world have different ideas about morality and ethics? I’m not sure, but I can imagine it depends on how you lived in those countries. If you were sheltered away on a military base or in an ex-pat enclave, then your moral and ethical upbringing would be as close to your home culture as possible, or even more extreme, in some cases.

I am probably  more liberal than some people my age living in Georgia. I am probably more aware of international events because I’m able to read newspapers in multiple languages with various contexts. But is that because of my cultural upbringing or the fact that I am not part of the majority culture in the first place?  Am I more progressive because I have to think and process in multiple languages and across multiple cultures?

There is more to morality and ethics than knowing what is offensive to one culture or the other, but many times that is what it boils down to in daily discourse. It’s easy to dismiss cultural mores when they don’t match up with our own as ‘barbaric’ or ‘strange’, but it is worth it to actually look at the place it comes from and compare it to our own before dismissing it outright. – SDM

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If you’d like to read my other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by K Wol

#atozchallenge: Educating without Moralising

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It is frustrating to be a teacher and not be able to talk about politics in depth with my students. I am sure that government teachers struggle even more than I. I cannot teach politics, or share my own political views, but transmitting my personal ethics and morals should not be too difficult.

I teach in Georgia, a part of the Bible Belt. I am not Christian, nor was I raised as one. My moral compass and personal ethical trail is much different from a majority of my students. How do we educate morality without forcing one’s own morals on our students? Should we even try to educate morality, or is it up to the parents, churches and non-school environments? What part do I as a teacher play in my students’ moral and ethical upbringing? Perhaps I am worrying for nothing, but we do have interesting and deep discussions about life in my classes, and I worry that sometimes I am unduly influencing them.

For me, the answer is neutrality. I teach the French point-of-view without mentioning if I agree with it or not. Since I’m German, I get a free pass for any ‘weird ideas’ I might have, but that is a lucky thing. Simple morality lessons are easy: talking about racism from the French point-of-view may open the discussion to racism in America, but my students will only hear what the French think about racism and not what I think.

Remaining neutral in the face of obvious bigotry is difficult, and I admit I’ve slipped in the past. Luckily, the easiest thing for me to say is ‘This has nothing to do with French, let’s get back on topic.’ It’s cheating, but it works. – SDM

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If you’d like to read the other posts in this year’s A to Z challenge, check them out here.

Photo by David Mark