Abusive or educational?


Some commenters on the news site stated that they thought that it was OK because they simply were re-enacting history as it really happened.
Others, of course, claimed it was just all kinds of wrong.

What say you?

Horribly inappropriate. Reliving this kind of history is something we should be striving to avoid, not acting out on schoolchildren!

I say abusive.

Let 'em watch Roots or you know, some actual historical documentary. There’s probably a thousand ways to teach about slavery without resorting to treating some of the children like slaves. Seems like a very thinly veiled excuse to be racist.

I don’t see any reason why re-enactments should not be part of teaching history, and I don’t see any reason why they should be dumbed down based on present-day standards of offensiveness. But in today’s environment, there’s clearly no chance that a public school could get away with doing this sort of thing.

What a dreadful idea. I agree with Dogzilla, this is what historical drama and documentaries are ideal for.

There was an episode of Star Trek (Voyager iirc) where a civilization left behind a device that would inject memories into people to make them experience a genocide that happened hundreds of years ago. The point being to make people really feel what it was like and discourage future incidents. The Federation ship’s initial plan was to destroy it, but eventually decided to leave it there, but post a warning so that people can make an informed decision as to whether or not to venture near the planet the device is on.

Who actually did the re-enactment? If it was other students or another class, I can at least see where the idea came from even if it was still inappropriate. Because yeah, those quotes sounds awfully specific to have not been targeted racial jabs. If it was some sort of company that provided the service, that’s so far beyond wrong that I can’t imagine anyone going there. But no matter what, why wouldn’t whoever did not get the cooperation of the students chosen first? That seems like it might have headed off some problems.

My children were not that dainty or weak that it would effect or affect them at all at that age.

A lot of the African American students - friends and such, would have had a blast being yelled at by their German / Hispanic / etc American friends. The H… word, the S… word the C… word ( the horror ) would be sent right back with much enthusiasm…

IMO, they ( the poor damaged people ) are looking for a payday more than any real thoughts that their special snowflake was harmed by this.


And you think this is a good idea? REALLY?!

What kind of school in the USA has German students as a major group?

Actually, the small city in Wisconsin that I grew up in had a ton of German-descent students. Probably majority population at the time, easily.

And our teachers knew better, even in the 70s/80s, to think that doing stuff to a black kid like calling her nigger, chasing her through the woods, or saying stuff like how they were going to cut her Achilles’ tendon so she couldn’t escape were in any way acceptable “educational” behavior.

I think these remarks go beyond weighing in on one side of a possible debate, and indulge in trivializing the repugnance many (probably most) people feel about this. ITR and Guns, do I misunderstand you?

Arguable, there is a place for vivid and accurate re-enactment, in books and movies and other accounts for example. And if responsible adults want to opt in to some unusual experiential project, it should be their right. But IMHO this is nowhere near appropriate for kids.

I went to an integrated urban high school that mostly had only subtle flickers of racial tension. But I wouldn’t have trusted my classmates to not get carried away with such an assignment. Especially the jerks who were accustomed to calling me names. All it takes is one person to get into his role too well, and you end up with hurt feelings.

There are a lot of historical events that I wouldn’t want my kid to be forced to reenact. If someone wants to pretend to stand in as the slave, that’s fine. But forced to? Why? What exactly are they learning that a movie or a book can’t teach them? I think I have a pretty good understanding of slavery, and never once did someone have to call me a n.igger or threaten to cut my tendons. W T F.

What is the “H word” and “C word”? I’m guessing “S word” is spic?

I think this is pretty outrageous. Education is one thing, but to single an actual student out based on their race and think it’s ‘‘educational’’ to taunt them seems to force an unwarranted assumption - namely that racism is a thing of the past. It sounds like the adults involved were too naive to recognize how acting out racial harm in the past could facilitate actual racial harm in the present. I feel for that kid.

Hey, I did that Nature’s Classroom thing when I was in Junior high school in Connecticut. It was fun. Basically a five-day experience at a rural camp. (We didn’t do the Underground Railroad re-enactment, as far as I can remember, but my school was overwhelmingly white.)

^This. It was so not cool. Especially because as Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated, you have to beware of student role-playing exercises where one group is given license to treat another group abusively. It all too easily brings out the worse demons of human character, which all too easily gets out of hand, and that is seriously not cool.


C = lots of different ones, you pick. :wink:

I would like to see some actual evidence that any child was FORCED to play any part. A word used by the writer is not anywhere proof that this happened. Makes for a better story though doesn’t it?

If you think the media reported this in a fully factual way … :rolleyes:

Define “forced” in an educational situation. Many well-behaved children with respect for authority would have a hard time drawing attention to themselves by saying to an adult instructor, “no, I don’t want to do this.” Usually that kind of behavior gets you at the very least marked down in grades, treated like a misbehaving child, or verbally taunted, and that’s by the teacher, not even your peers.

Anyone ever heard of the experiment called “The Third Wave”? A high school teacher in Palo Alto, California created a fascistic movement in his sophomore history class, to demonstrate how the Nazis might have come to power in Germany. Peer pressure is enormously powerful.