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Mock Protest Taught in Elementary Class

Posted June. 28, 2008 08:34,   


Recently parent A of a 12-year-old elementary school student was shocked at what she saw at the school website. Several days earlier she had prepared a cow mask for her son who asked her to buy the mask as a class material. She had not paid much attention when the son said the mask was needed for a play in class.

The school website featured some photos from the play in which students staged a mock candlelight vigil against U.S. beef imports. Some of the students seemingly took their role as a mad cow, protesters and even a news reporter. The photos showed fake candlelight and some pickets reading “2MB OUT!”

Seeing the pictures, she became enraged and said, “How could a teacher do this to the kids who have yet to develop balanced critical minds?”

The teacher who was in charge of the play, however, said, “The play was performed during the Korean language class which covered the subject. Children in their role-playing such as announcer and reporter simulated a certain situation of the protest. They prepared for the play since they have seen a host of the related news on TV, and it was not my intention that they staged the play.”

Another teacher surnamed Ko who teaches English at the same school showed her students of eight classes a video clip featuring controversy over mad cow disease. The video, which was produced by EBS’s Knowledge Channel e, contained the reports from the United Kingdom about cows that cannot walk, cats died of mad cow disease, and a college girl who allegedly died of human mad cow disease.

Parent B raised his voice over such materials being viewed in class, saying, “The contents are so sensitive that the kids may reach wrong understanding and decision from the viewing. The teacher should have been more thoughtful about the impact.”

One teacher in charge of a fifth-grade class said, “Some children who had not often watched news on TV seemed to be astonished at the video footage.”

However, Ko argued, “Children kept asking me about mad cow disease, and I just showed the clip in order to have them resolve their curiosity after borrowing the material from a Web site sharing teaching materials.” He added, “I have never participated in such a protest before. The viewing was in line with the effort to cover a current issue and relieve students’ curiosity, but has nothing to do with my personal opinion.”

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