Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Great Discussion Today

7th graders have been discussing "Did Charlemagne's ends justify his means."  This is a tough topic for most kids because they are a pretty non-violent group so they usually start from the standpoint that the ends do not justify the means.  Killing is wrong, killing in the name of Christianity is difficult for most kids to get past.  A few brave souls realize that perhaps the ends do justify the means.  They are brave because they are able to stand up to their friends and classmates to argue the other side in a discussion.  Midway through the discussion, though, kids are no longer talking about Charlemagne and medieval times.  They are talking about dropping the atomic bomb at the end of World War II, American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, most importantly, they are talking to each other.  Oh, I still have to paraphrase, prod reluctant participants, and recognize kids who contradict themselves as they move from one side to another; but the kids are conducting their own discussion about historical events, great changes in the world, and the fact that so many anonymous people are forgotten in the name of "progress."  Truly an inspiring day.

1 comment:

  1. It's perhaps almost the opposite of what you've described here, but your post reminds me of a study conducted in Israeli schools in the early 1960s - if I remember correctly, with kids the age of your class.

    Pupils were told two stories - the first the Biblical story of Joshua and the conquest of the land as the Israelites entered it after leaving Egypt and wandering in the desert, and the second the same story, but this time told as the conquests of an historic Chinese general.

    The pupils were asked whether they thought the behavior of the conquering army was ethical and justified. And lo and behold - they thought that Joshua was doing the right thing, while the Chinese general was, in their eyes, bloodthirsty and unethical.

    And the conclusion? The Joshua story shouldn't be taught in middle school in Israel.