27 July 2012

Inclusion, Exclusion: Rights, Reasons, and Excuses

I can't help it: I love controversy. What's more, I think it's essential to have a safe forum to discuss important social issues with young people. The trick is to be open-minded, but not so open-minded your brain falls out* OR so open-minded that you allow one group of students to trample the rights, voice, or feelings of another.

I discovered the article "Boy Scouts de Panamá también cierran puertas a gays" as part of my summer graduate class on the Media (and so like the Fusion Project, there will also be a breakdown of the lesson on the class wiki). My son is almost old enough to be a Tiger Cub, and as the daughter and wife of Eagle Scouts, I have a lot to think about. That this issue has spread to the international stage is fascinating, especially when Panama's neighbor, Costa Rica, is taking the opposite stance.

I've thought long and hard what the deeper fundamental point students need to think about could be, a point independent from sexualized or religious talk. That point is inclusion versus exclusion, where (and if) group rights end and individual rights begin.

Project Idea: 

students establish school clubs and rules for membership

Driving Question

Who has the right to decide who can join?

Content Addressed:

NM.CLL.1.1 Use memorized words and phrases to exchange information on familiar topics, such as likes, dislikes, emotions, everyday activities, and immediate surroundings.

NM.CLL.1.2 Use memorized responses to simple questions, statements, commands, or other stimuli.

NM.CLL.2.1 Understand the meaning of memorized phrases and questions about familiar topics and surroundings.
NM.CLL.2.2 Understand the meaning of memorized words and phrases in sentences.

NM.CLL.2.4 Infer conclusions from simple spoken and written passages about familiar topics, using context clues and cognates.

NM.CLL.3.1 Use memorized words and phrases in presentations on familiar topics, such as likes, dislikes, emotions, everyday activities, and immediate surroundings.

NM.CLL.3.3 Use appropriate pronunciation and voice inflection in spoken presentations.

NM.CLL.4.1 Compare basic cultural practices of people in the target culture and the students’ culture.
NM.CLL.4.2 Exemplify instances of cognates and loan words.

NM.COD.1.1 Use memorized words and phrases to exchange information about the classroom and school 
NM.COD.1.2 Use memorized responses to simple academic questions, statements, commands, or other stimuli.

NM.COD.2.1 Classify memorized words and phrases in the target language by key academic concepts.

NM.COD.2.3 Interpret short, non-fiction passages from academic content areas using context clues (signs, charts, graphs, etc.)

NM.COD.3.1 Use memorized words and phrases about the date, seasons, numbers, and daily classroom activities to give a spoken or written presentation.
NM.COD.3.2 Use memorized words and phrases to describe common objects and actions related to other 
NM.COD.3.3 Use readily available technology tools and digital literacy skills to present academic information in the target language.

NM.COD.4.2 Identify information about target culture perspectives and practices.

NM.CMT.1.1 Use memorized words and phrases to ask and answer simple questions on familiar topics.
NM.CMT.3.2 Use memorized words and phrases to participate in school or community events related to the target culture

Major Student Products:
  • Poster ad for club
  • Calendar of events (1st month)
  • By-laws
  • Panama vs Costa Rica journal
  • Rule defense debate
  • Recruitment video/presentation
It just so happens that my new school is in need of new clubs. And it also happens that students have made some suggestions about what kind of clubs they want. There was an overwhelming demand for art club, a few calls for yearbook, and one or two for drama/debate and service clubs. So here are are my suggestions for clubs we could work on founding in, say, Spanish II:
  • Green Team--environmental service and outdoor recreation
  • Art Lovers Anonymous--experimenting with different art forms and art appreciation
  • Acting and Arguing--speaking skills and competition
  • Yearbook--photography and publishing
New clubs, of course, need members. And rules. So first students will create campaigns in Spanish to recruit members (which, granted, is perhaps not entirely authentic, since I believe the ELL rate at our school is not terribly high). Then, they'll have to make by-laws...and exclude members. I will help them out with a little research, of course, to help them decide who is not really suited to their club.

For example: blue-eyed students will not be allowed to join the Green Team because scientific studies indicate that outdoor activities are too risky for their health.
I'm still coming up with reasons/excuses for banning people from the other clubs. Maybe Art Lovers can't accept people with corrective lenses or lefties. Acting and Arguing might exclude people with GPA's too low. Yearbook might exclude underclassmen. I'm not sure if I'll be able to find research to support all of these, but I think it makes for an interesting mix of inflammatory and arguably justifiable exclusionary practices.

We will not observe recent decisions about Boy Scouts in the United States before diving into Panama and Costa Rica's stances, getting students up to speed with a video like this perhaps:

At no point will we have class debate about this issue (unless I get REALLY comfortable with these kids quick and feel like they can handle it), but they WILL express their opinions in writing in a personal journal. That way they can be "heard" and use the TL, but neither I nor they will be responsible for making someone feel bad about their opinion--and I get to know them a little better.

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