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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 believe the teacher should explain to the children in the classes that friends holding hands in some cultures is completely normal. Teachers have to communicate the differences that people experience throughout the world to help spread knowledge about culture, rather than rumors about something that is completely insensitive. I think Ade and Elsa would have not experienced any such problem, if the girls were in a primary grade (such as kindergarten or first grade). Many girls are seen holding hands at a young age. Since they are older, the impression they are making towards their peers is one that needs to be addressed with everyone involved. I think the teacher should explain to the girls the perception that they are indirectly sharing with the other students around the school. Ade and Elsa should realize that different cultures view actions in various ways. I hope the conversation that the teacher has with all students in the situation can begin other discussions about certain choices that would be acceptable in different countries throughout the world.
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 you post. I would personally just be gentle about it.
Rated On: October 16, 2014 11:35 pm
Rated By: PezaLe