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  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 think that you, as a teacher, have the responsibility of teaching young adolescents to be culturally sensitive. I say that, because I know in middle school, I was not. Teaching students about other cultures should be just as important as teaching the standards--it's also about teaching life to our students. If this were me, I would do two things: First, I would talk to each and every one of my classes about Ade and Elsa's culture. I would also take some time in class to research this along with my class so that they can see us learning together. Then, I would talk to both Ade and Elsa away from the other students and explain to them our culture--what the other kids view their holding hands as. Talk with them, discuss it, and answer their questions Lastly, I would bring this to the attention of the other teachers in 7th grade so that they are aware of the situation and what I have done to hopefully, help the problem if nothing else. I think it's important here not to choose just option #1 or #2, but rather to show both parties, both perspectives. Doing so might help lend itself to a more culturally sensitive classroom.
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: Students need to understand the situation, not just be told not to do it. Most of the time they do not even realize what the situation is.
Rated On: October 17, 2014 3:09 am
Rated By: Amanda Smith