A history teacher, who is said to have discussed images of the Prophet Muhammad with his pupils during a moral and civic education class, was beheaded in Paris at the end of last week. Seems a little extreme to say the least, yet it happened.
When did it become unsafe for teachers to open up healthy and much-needed discussions around freedom of speech with their students?
It’s no wonder they’ve become overly (clearly warranted now) paranoid about talking to their kids about anything that’s potentially ‘out of the norm’.
How do we expect our kids to learn anything if their teachers are (rightfully) fearful to talk about anything that might ruffle any feathers?
How can we encourage our kids to ask questions, create open discussions and healthy debates about topics that could ultimately result in their death?
Understandably, it could make even the hardiest of teachers a little nervous.
So how do we manage to still encourage freedom of speech, as well as raise topics that some find shameful, or even taboo without children and teachers fearing for their lives?
A way around it could be to raise the topic of the topic.
Put simply, ask the kids how they feel about the fact that a completely innocent man (forget the fact that he was a teacher for the time being) was brutally assassinated because he dared to create an open (and balanced) discussion around religion.
Next, you can ask them how they feel about other potential ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘controversial’ topics and what those topics might be, why they’re uncomfortable around them and how would they suggest they raise them in a way that moves society forward whilst still staying safe.
Seems to me, that if we don’t find a way around talking about the uncomfortable, then fear wins out and the uncomfortable just gets more, well, uncomfortable.