Taking off the rose-tinted glasses

This bubble map shows the global distribution ...

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I am an avid follower of the #edchat discussion on Twitter every Tuesday (5 p.m. G.M.T. noon E.S.T.).

Today I came back from Day 1 of a two day Maths Consultants Meeting in Peterborough. It was a long drive (by British standards!) and I joined the second half of an interesting discussion about global communication.

I loved the optimistic views expressed about the power of the web to facilitate communication and understanding across the globe. I made a couple of (late) contributions myself and found that it got me thinking about another issue.

As teachers we come with a certain predisposition to want to encourage understanding of other cultures, of other races and of other religions. This is a laudable thing and is not one that I would ever take issue with. But this week has seen the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese politician who has been under house arrest for a number of years for daring to talk about freedom to engage in politics and express views in a country that is run by the iron fist of a military junta.

There are children who are slaves and there are children who work in sweat shops, there are children who are prostitutes, there are children who are into crime, drug addiction and are killed in the streets of shanty towns in Brazil.

At which stage in allowing children to communicate with the world do we also let them understand that this is a very horrible place to live in for so many children. Closer to their homes do they know about homelessness and street crime maybe just down the road from where they live?

You may say that they are too young and impressionable to be told this and that global communication is about understanding and peace. But do we risk getting them to talk to children who are not disadvantaged or damaged by life.. in fact to children very much like themselves who may not understand many of the problems within their own countries.

So my original question is asked again…at which point do we take off the rose-tinted glasses and introduce children to the real world that they live in? I do not have an answer to this but thought it would make another interesting question for our #edchat discussion.

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