TeacherServer.com
Home | How It Works | Stats
Login | Register
     
  Case: Donít Hold Hands
Ade and Elsa are two 7th grade girls from Indonesia who joined our school couple months ago. I teach them Physical Science. They have well-developed English skills. Although they have an accent, they can communicate with teachers and fellow students. I am very sensitive to the needs of newly-arrived immigrant students, so I paid close attention when I heard rumors from other students about them. Students started spreading that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. Apparently Ade and Elsa heard about the rumors; they came to me in tears. I asked them to tell me what was going on. What I found out was very interesting. Ade and Elsa have known each other since they were small children and they have always been best friends. Their families decided to move to the US together. Their fathers applied for jobs in the same company. They both received offers and moved together. Ade and Elsa were excited about going to the same school in US and continuing their friendship. In Indonesia, same-gender friends holding hands is very common and indicates friendship. When children at our school saw Ade and Elsa holding hands they thought that Ade and Elsa were in a lesbian relationship. I have to do something about this. I see two options before me: I will explain to the children in my classes that friends holding hands in some cultures is completely normal, or I will tell Ade and Elsa to not hold hands to avoid these rumors. The second option seems culturally insensitive, but if Ade and Elsa continue holding hands, rumors will continue even if I explain to my students the cultural side of their friendship. What should I do? If you have an original solution to this issue, please advice.
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
I believe that you are possibly setting up the two students (and their parents) if you do not make them aware that where they live presently, two female students holding hands has a different meaning than where they came from. I do not think that this means you necessarily tell them to stop, but you do make them aware that this is the behavior that is causing the students to make those false accusations. I believe that this a time where students can learn about student differences through a project on their culture. Their Social Studies teacher (as a science teacher, I would collaborate with the Social Studies teacher about this because it would be more relevant in their classroom and it would seem more logical to be in this sort of class) could implement a project in which students are to present 5 things that are special or unique to their culture. This would be a great time to get Ade or Elsa to place in their project that girls holding hands in their culture means something totally different where they are from rather than where they currently live. I believe that through this project, there will be other things that the other students will come up with that could be seen as unique or weird that the teacher could also discuss with the class so that the students could see that they are all not the same and that they need to learn to understand where someone comes from before they make snap judgments.

I would also, perhaps collaborate with the English teacher to have students write a paper or presentation on what it means to be judgmental and about stereotypes. I believe that by having students show their understanding of these concepts mingled in with what is happening in the social studies class will have a great affect. I also believe that any students predominately responsible for these rumors need to be spoken to (along with their parents) by the administration at the school.
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments:
Rated On: August 29, 2014 3:51 pm
Rated By: ePeHyM
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I really enjoyed reading your solution. I like that you are encouraging teacher collaboration. I agree that it is very important to let the students and their parents know why it's an issue due to cultural differences. I like that you suggested using the situation as a teaching and learning opportunity. I would definitely use this same approach.
Rated On: February 29, 2016 5:52 pm
Rated By: Melissa Dison