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using politcally (in)correct material 
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Joined: Fri Jun 16, 2006 2:27 pm
Posts: 70
Location: Austria
Post using politcally (in)correct material
Here's a dilemma I encountered, and I'll throw it out for discussion. If anyone considers the material offensive (or not, for that matter), I'd be grateful for your comments.
A teacher of 10 year-olds in their first intensive year of English asked me to "read something" to the class. Picking a text isn't easy. They hadn't had any past tense, and of course, you're working within a very limited vocabulary. One of the books I had at home was (here we go!) "Little Black Sambo". I chose it because the class had recently learned articles of clothing, and because the repetition in the story helps kids catch on faster.
I drew the clothes on the board. Then I began reading the story. Suddenly the ball started rolling on its own, in a way I hadn't planned. (wonderful the way those balls can snowball) I'd leave out a word, and the kids would shout it out. Soon I could leave out whole phrases, and the kids in chorus would eagerly be howling in the whole phrase.
Me: Little Black Sambo, I'm .....
Kids: Going to eat you up!
Me: Oh please, Mr. Tiger
Kids: Don't eat me up.....
It was actually exciting to see how quickly they absorbed the words and meanings.
Later someone from the States scolded me for using that text. Personally, I think very highly of a boy who is brave enough to admit he is afraid, and who uses his wits to outsmart four fearless tigers! I don't have a problem with the illustrations, and the class didn't see them. (It's one thing to be born with large features; it's another if you are a filmstar and you run out to your local big-lip maker for a funky new set of smackeroos.) The names are offensive. There is a new politically correct edition of this story, but I don't have it. If I had had it, I would have preferred it.
In any case, the question remains, should I have told the story, or should it be put away for all time? I'd appreciate your thoughts, especially if I am in the wrong.

Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:34 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Ahhhhh :shock: Politics.

Well, I read that story to my children and only because they love it. I guess it really just comes down to level of sensitivity. There are two strong sides to the Little Black Sambo story.

If you feel you read it to the children for good reason and in good will, I would stand by it. It's a great story.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Fri Aug 11, 2006 7:41 pm
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Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:14 am
Posts: 75
Location: Nago, Okinawa, Japan
I will not give my opinion on using such material but just having you contemplate or ponder how sensitive the material is an indicator that I use not to use such material. How would you explain the usage of such material to a parent or a superior? It may come out that you are not sensitive to the original or underlying reason that many find offensive.
It is like the "Little Pepito" stories and jokes that I hear. Some are quite funny and cute but it's really about making fun of a poor, uneducated Mexican boy. It seems as though every culture has its "Sambo." One example in Japan is "Bobby Ologan." Love him or hate him? I don't even waste my time on such pathetic attempts at comedy.

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:51 am

Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:36 pm
Posts: 386
Location: Tohoku Japan
There are two sides to every story :D

both sides can make a good case!

I personally don't get too worried about such things, but then, ... I suppose one must be careful not to get too relaxed and just read anything with out any thought of its contents :oops:

Wed Aug 23, 2006 5:22 pm

Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:34 am
Posts: 6
Post politically correct or not
if your intention is not to offend and it is such a motivating teaching aid, i think it is a shame to quibble. I bet most parents would rather their child heard a good story and was happily learning english effectively, than complain about a story which is self-evidently old-fashioned, with clearly out-dated ideas, such as are expressed in many classics (which we still enjoy reading).

I would just like to say thankyou for some motivating material (for me that is)!

ps what are the rules of baseball?!?! (sorry!)


Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:46 am

Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:28 am
Posts: 41
Location: Mexico
It is like the "Little Pepito" stories and jokes that I hear. Some are quite funny and cute but it's really about making fun of a poor, uneducated Mexican boy. .[/quote]

Hi.....Just to point out that as a Mexican I have never felt offended by "Pepito's" jokes which are quite popular specially at school. We think they are fun, but then again I guess it depends on everyone.But I have never met someone who gets upset by them. :)

Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:19 am

Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:14 am
Posts: 75
Location: Nago, Okinawa, Japan
I know many "Pepito" jokes and I think that comedy has its place but in the context of learning English, I don't know how appropriate it may be. It's a shame that "Pepito" didn't get smarter. I guess "We are all human beans."

Thu Sep 21, 2006 10:43 pm

Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2006 11:43 am
Posts: 7
I guess it all depends if you're comfortable with it,i don't think they will pick up on any of the "rascism element"

I was given that story awhile ago for an older class and no one thought anything about it..

Sun Oct 01, 2006 11:56 pm

Joined: Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:08 am
Posts: 48
Location: Imsil, Jeolla-buk-do, South Korea
The truth is that you can take almost everything that comes out of person's mouth in a negative way. Unfortunately that is the reality of today. We worry so much about what a person could be saying that we don't actually pay much attention to what he/she is actually saying. And in this atmosphere good luck finding material that won't potentially offend someone. You know what you're teaching and why. And if it reaches the objectives you set then that is what is important. Good luck with all the political bureau-crap.

Mon Oct 02, 2006 3:33 am
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