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Re: CELEBRATING PLURALISM

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carla harwitt (charwitt.us)
Wed, 12 Feb 1997 23:45:32 -0800 (PST)

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Terry,
I agree that the practice in the article is horrible. What I was trying
to communicate in my previous message (but not very effectively) was my
surprise that my students automatically *heard* the article through a kind
of "this is another culture so tread carefully" kind of filter. Once I
pointed out to them that I had asked only what they thought of the
practice and not whether they thought the U.S. in particular should do
anything about it, they all voiced a collective "Oh...!" and uniformly
condemned the practice. Phew! They had had me worried! Frankly, I'm
still concerned whether a "sensitivity to multiculturalism" can be carried
to extremes to denigrate the work of groups like Amnesty International,
but that's for another discussion...
--Carla in LA

On Wed, 12 Feb 1997, Terry Barrett wrote:

> Carla,
> I'm impressed that you read the article to your ninth graders. You must
> have excellent rapport with them. I think you are brave for doing that,
> and I think it counts towards responsible multicultural education.
> However, I can't find anything to celebrate or respect in this cultural
> practice, and I don't think there is a right of rape. Thank you for
> responding.
> Terry
>
> >Dear Terry, Interesting that you should mention that article, which I
> >found personally horrifying. I read it to my 9th grade world history
> >class and asked the students what they thought. My intention was a
> >discussion on gender roles, community sin, Shirley Jackson's "The
> >Lottery," that sort of thing. My students, however, assumed I was asking
> >if the US should interfere in this practice. Almost to a man, and woman,
> >they felt that although they might personally abhor the practice, we
> >should respect the right of other cultures to make their own decisions.
> >Seems to me that the "celebrating pluralism" message is certainly taking
> >hold, and that's a good thing.
> >--Carla in LA
> >
> >Who was it who said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend
> >to the death your right to say it"? (I know - I should know this, but I
> >just can't remember. Probably "sometimer's disease," as a friend of mine
> >puts it.)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >On Tue, 11 Feb 1997, Terry Barrett wrote:
> >
> >> Dear Graeme,
> >>
> >> I've been loosely following your interesting and valuable dialogue about
> >> multiculturalism, and the general theme I'm raising here with one example
> >> you may have already dealt with. If so, I apologize.
> >>
> >> I was troubled to read in yesterday's newspaper an AP story entitled
> >> Gahanaian Priests Still Taking Girls Into Slavery. According to the
> >> newspaper account, slavery has long been and still is a part of Ghanaian
> >> culture. The Ewe word trokosi refers to wife of the gods and the still
> >> extant practice of appeasing war gods for misdeeds of ancestors by
> >> sacrificing vestal virgins from every new generation. Daughters as young
> >> as ten are handed over to temples where they are servants until they begin
> >> to menstruate and then become the concubines of priests. When they reach
> >> middle age, the women are released, to be replaced by yet another virgin
> >> from the same family. The practice dates back to the 17th century and is
> >> also practiced in neighboring Togo, Benin, and Nigeria where it is believed
> >> to have originated.
> >>
> >> As I read the article, I couldn't escape ironic associations with the
> >> current discussion about celebrating pluralism. How are we art educators
> >> to deal with cultural differences such as this one?
> >>
> >> Sincerely,
> >>
> >> Terry Barrett
> >> Professor, Art Education
> >> 340 Hopkins Hall
> >> Ohio State University
> >> Columbus, OH 43210
> >> 614.292.4741
> >> barrett.8
> >>
> >>
> >>
>
>
>


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