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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!)
“Cannot cooperate”
I am not sure why this concern was not brought to the teacher attention for now. Even though the small group projects are new, the problem with working with males would had to have come up before now. I think teachers have to take into consideration religious views, but I also think this particular concern should be look into more. Aisha’s parents would be a great resource for the teacher. They might be able to explain the concern in greater detail. I also think the teacher needs to find a balance between what he or she will or will not allow to change the classroom structure. Should other girls be forced to work in an all girls group because of one student? I think independent work might be a solution. Yes, you are singling Aisha out, but I do not think others should miss the opportunity to interact with other another. You could also ask for volunteers to work in an all girls group. There could be a volunteer or two and that would be an easy solution.

I worked closely with a GA Pre-K teacher this year that had to consider the religious views of a student who was Jehovah's Witness. The student was not allowed to participate in any worldly holiday celebrations, sing certain songs, or celebrate birthdays. I was shocked to hear all the stipulations and I honestly reacted negatively. I first stated that it was unfair to the child to put him in a public education setting and then suggested (not out loud), that they teach him themselves. His actual teacher handled the situation better than I would have or at least how I thought about handling it. I agreed to let him come into my classroom while they celebrated different occasions, but was saddened by his reaction to not being able to participate. He was little and did not understand the views of his parents yet. He wanted to be with his friends. What was frustrating to me where the guidelines that the teacher had to follow and how sometimes the student would mention doing things at home that the teacher was told not to do at school.

I gave this example because I think there has to be a balance of what is allowed in school and what isn’t. I think religious views are important, but I don’t think the education of others should be altered because of one individual person. I think adaptations should be made for that person and that person alone. I also believe the teacher needs to find out the reality behind not wanting to work with males. Is it a view that has exceptions?
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 agree with all of your points, the student's beliefs should be valued but at the same time the education of others should not have to be altered because of this student's beliefs. The parents should be contacted and ask if they could elaborate or do they have any suggestions.
Rated On: October 19, 2014 12:05 am
Rated By: adenar