Monday, February 4, 2013

Two short films for the Spanish bilingual class

Maintaining the usage of an ethical discourse in class where everyone feels comfortable is something that I have always strived to do when teaching. Obviously, I am not talking about language acquisition but about the ethical compromise teachers must have with their students and with society. Of course, many teachers are already working hard to fulfill this duty. I have always thought that what we say in a classroom and our teaching approaches have to be ethical and consistent. I also often wondered how many times my students felt frustrated when my words and my actions showed some discrepancy.
I suggest these two short films that you may use to facilitate discussion about the related topics above with students. 
The first short film is Hiyab, by Xavi Sala. We meet Fatima, a Muslim girl, who attends high school for the first time. A teacher tries to convince her that wearing a hijab is not a good idea because everyone "has to be the same in school" and respect all beliefs and religions. She also asks Fatima, "you don't want to be the freak in the class, do you?". The teacher was well-intentioned but her choice of words was questionable. Fatima reluctantly agrees to take her hijab off but she gets a surprise when she enters the classroom.

The short film shows how difficult it can be to balance individual freedom and institutional policies and to maintain individuality in a group. It provokes thinking about our roles of teachers. The film also challenges how much empathy and tolerance the once-homogeneous Spanish society may actually have for cultural minorities.

The educator in the second short film is the coach of a chidren's soccer team. Lucas, one of his players, spends all his time on the bench. He gets tired of not having the opportunity to play; so, he reminds his coach about the team's motto: "winning is not the most important, participating is".  Moreover, the coach's encouragement for players to win at all costs was contradictory to Lucas' sportsmanship. Lucas has to wait and wait until the day of the final when he gets the chance to teach the coach a small lesson.

Both short films use language comprehensible to junior high and high school students. They serve as starting points to interesting discussions related to some of the outcomes students work in other subject areas such as:
  • Understand how identity and self-esteem are shaped by multiple personal, social, linguistic and cultural factors.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to the personal and emotional aspects of identity.
  • Demonstrate skills required to maintain individuality within a group.
To sum up, both films effectively demonstrate the potential effects that our words and attitudes have on students. These stories offer a lucid vision of the problems students may encounter in their daily lives and the struggles they may face to maintain their individuality.