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  Case: Cannot Cooperate
Aisha is known as a responsible and smart student. I have known her for the last two years, but this year is the first time she is taking one of my classes. She is in my 10th grade US History class. Recently, I started using small group projects in my class. I simply want my students to learn to cooperate, exchange ideas, and produce the project together. Although Aisha is willing to take part in these small group projects, she does not want to be in groups with male students because of her religious beliefs. When she told me about this, I told her that she was in the United States and that she had to work with whoever she is in a group with. In the first group project, Aisha was in a group with three males and one female students. She simply did not participate in any of the group activities. I wonder if should reconsider my original position on this issue and accommodate Aisha by having her work only with girls. Would I be doing her a disservice? What should I do?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
In all honesty, I would be the first to tell Aisha that she needs to do what is asked of her or get an "F", and that school is a training ground for the real world. However, I have learned that such an attitude displayed by a teacher is inappropriate and would only lead to a myriad of conflicts - student-teacher; student-teacher-parent; and student-student; as well as student failure. With that said, if the goals of the assignment were for the students to demonstrate cooperation, exchange ideas, and to collaborate to produce a final product, then as a teacher, I would reconsider my original position and accommodate Aisha by having her work only with girls. In addition, I would use the opportunity to teach about cultural differences, and to allow the class to share their opinions on how we can address examples of culture conflicts as a classroom community. I would do this to promote a spirit of community in the classroom where everyone feels welcome , respected, and accepted; including Aisha and all male students.
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 liked your post and your enthusiasm. I think that I would respond to this case in the exact same way. If you fail to recognize this aspect of Aisha's culture, then you are setting Aisha up for failure. You could also be creating problems for yourself that you do not want to have. I believe that Aisha could demonstrate cooperation, exchange her ideas, and collaborate with her peers to produce a final product without being placed in a group with male students. I would also consider her performance on the previous group activity when she was placed in a group with males and females. She refused to work and participate in these activities and received poor grades. She should not be punished for her beliefs and I believe that the teacher should not count the grade that she was given for the activity where she was forced to work with a male. As the teacher I would also afford Aisha the opportunity to share with the class what makes her culture so unique so that they will also understand why she is unable to work with males. Aisha's differences should be celebrated and excepted by the entire class.
Rated On: September 5, 2013 5:07 pm
Rated By: jaMyDu