Friday, January 9, 2015

Talking about Freedom of Expression in School

Bruce A. McCoubrey, illustrateur américain

"Why should we hate one another? We all live in the same cause, are borne through life on the same planet, form the crew of the same ship."

Antoine de Saint-ExupéryWind, Sand and Stars, 1939

Schools across the world are considering to help students understand the tragic events, in Paris, France since the 7th January 2015.

Sometimes, we
 wondering how to face the students and discussed such tragic events in the classroom

Students, watched television, read the news on the social networks, the oldest shared some cartoons on their profile photos, created by cartoonists all over the world.  And want to talk or make questions.

Google displayed on French homepage #JeSuisCharlie cartoon created by an American artist.

French teachers are invited by the Ministery of Education to "répondre favorablement aux besoins ou demandes d'expression qui pourraient avoir lieu dans les classes". 

"Une minute de silence a été organisée jeudi 8 janvier à midi dans les écoles, collèges et lycées conformément à la volonté du président de la République."

But not only at French schools. In Portugal, Portuguese teachers and I am sure lots of world teachers held a minute's silence Thursday, January 8 in their classrooms.

Marie Bastie CM2

A great number of French schools are expressing students' felings on social networks.

Some of your students are expressing their feelings on such tragic events that are every where on the press, on television, social networks, even on the French roads.

And some of them, young-adults as social media users are sharing different and touching cartoons as a tribute to the victims of the killings.

credits: Magnus Shaw on Twitter


Schools are places of free speech.  And it’s just as clear that intimidation and violence must be condemned and combated for whatever reason they’re committed, especially if their goal is to undermine freedoms and liberties of open societies.

How to talk about at school? I still remember September 11/2001We must not to impose our words of adults.

How to find the right words when overcome with sorrow our own emotion, and every word that comes to our mind can frighten the small kids : attack, terrorists dead, mourning, run, shoot? 

The psychologist and psychoanalyst Sophie Marinopoulos said that the best way is to start from the child heard or just ask "What you heard?" or "Did you hear what is going on right now What do you understand?"

CE2 Les Estelles

Of course that after the first day at school, where it would probably - depending on age - a minute's silence, and had spoken with friends, kids will have a partial and distorted view of the tragedy.

The important thing is to start with students words, to follow the thinking of the child or young-adult and not to impose our adult words. 

Back on their understanding is important because it has to be spoken, not to leave the child with what it will come up with some information that they had to correct what kids had not quite understand and answer questions. 

And of course, we don't forget our muslim students. They are in our classrooms. Theur friends are their school mates.

More than ever, we must have the right word to express our emotion, our tears, our sorrow, but also our need for gathering and unity. 

"We tend to want to protect the children in our sorrow concerning the tragedy, but in toddlers 3 or 4 years, it can lead them to imagine terrible things, says the analyst.

It does not mean give details. This is the time to reaffirm that nothing can replace the word.

Credits: Mario Testino

The oldest, secondary education (elementary schools and high schools) will be happy to feel part of the adult community and stay with us to vigils, demonstrations, to "think in their head and in their heart to those who are not there" . 

"But take the kids to protests or not, it depends on each family, the transmission of the report," 

Sophie Marinopoulos, 

In the coming days, the school will serve as a sounding board for what is said in the family. 

"The school should be a place where their questions and confusions are listened: What is Islam? What is a religion? Will it nasty religions? What is freedom of expression? "

But Sophie Marinopoulos says : "It is also a debate that we should have in the family. And not only when freedom of expression is reached. It is not enough discussion of these topics. »

I agree. Freedom of expression starts at home and continues at school. Parents and schools or teachers have their own rules that must be respected for both sides parents/ teachers vs. kids/ students.

Some thougts:

Teachers and parents. Just talk and share thoughts with your students or kids, no matter their age. Because they have a lot of questions, not just today, tomorrow and in the coming days. 

"In talking with them, but also to defend freedom of expression."

"Pourquoi nous haïr ? Nous sommes solidaires, emportés par la même planète, équipage d’un même navire."

Antoine de Saint-ExupéryTerre des Hommes, 1939


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