Sunday, June 03, 2007

Live, from the world of the seventh grade

Saudi Arabia comes to New Hampshire.

Now, please note that this is courtesy of Little Green Footballs, hence the hysterical language about the coming caliphate and 'dhimmitude' (this is not a real word in English, people). But there have been enough of these 'pretend to be an Arab' events reported on from middle schools that I am beginning to get rather curious.

There aren't a lot of them. I have been teaching seventh grade for the last three years in the dark blue heart of the liberal-left heartland, and I have never had anyone suggest one of these shindigs to me. The closest I ever came was a discussion with a seventh grade social studies teacher about whether he should dress as Mohammed for the day (he routinely dresses as key figures from the seventh grade history curriculum. And being Jewish, I figure he probably looks more like Mohammed than he does King Sundiata--who he has appeared as. Or Ghengis Khan.) We decided against the impersonation for reasons of not offending the little Afghan girls in his class. (The ones who used their hijabs to provide cover for their Ipod earphones.) I thought maybe he could be a pagan Arab offering reports on what he's heard about this new religious leader, but we finally decided to drop the whole idea.)

But these events. There seem to be some key elements that show up with all these things--the dressing up and the taking Arab names--but this one seems particularly offbeat in that it recreates life in, of all places, modern Saudi. Why not Egypt? Why not, say Pakistan? Why not medieval Arabia, which is what the kids study, and could have offered a slough of impressive people (women included) for the kids to impersonate as they lead folks around?

So, on the one hand, this was clearly a pretty odd idea, on the other hand, I have to deny the LGFers contention that this has become normative in U.S. education. Trust me. It ain't.

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