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Question about offending Muslim children

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Lilybett, May 5, 2012.

  1. This is potentially silly, so please don't laugh. This is why I ask anonymously here instead of asking a colleague!
    About 25% of my class are Muslim. Great, like it. They're very serious about their faith (great, like that, too) although occasionally it has caused some fall-outs (not letting non-Muslim children play, getting other children to say silly things in Arabic..!) which I keep my eye on and attempt to handle with diplomacy...
    ANYWAY, the class were watching a short video clip last week in which a pig popped up! I hadn't thought anything of it, but I noticed the Muslim kids were all sitting together, covering their eyes. Was itreally bad of me to show this clip? I ask really because in our new poetry unit, I've found a lovely poem (The Pig, by Roald Dahl), and a video clip of it being performed and it's all pretty perfect. Am I being an insensitive oaf to expect Muslim children to work on a poem about a pig? Or as long as I don't ask them to touch or eat one am I okay? I suppose I'm asking specifically about this unit of work, but also in a wider sense: where is the line between being sensitive and respectful and being a simpering ninny?
    Thanks for your thoughts x
     
  2. This is potentially silly, so please don't laugh. This is why I ask anonymously here instead of asking a colleague!
    About 25% of my class are Muslim. Great, like it. They're very serious about their faith (great, like that, too) although occasionally it has caused some fall-outs (not letting non-Muslim children play, getting other children to say silly things in Arabic..!) which I keep my eye on and attempt to handle with diplomacy...
    ANYWAY, the class were watching a short video clip last week in which a pig popped up! I hadn't thought anything of it, but I noticed the Muslim kids were all sitting together, covering their eyes. Was itreally bad of me to show this clip? I ask really because in our new poetry unit, I've found a lovely poem (The Pig, by Roald Dahl), and a video clip of it being performed and it's all pretty perfect. Am I being an insensitive oaf to expect Muslim children to work on a poem about a pig? Or as long as I don't ask them to touch or eat one am I okay? I suppose I'm asking specifically about this unit of work, but also in a wider sense: where is the line between being sensitive and respectful and being a simpering ninny?
    Thanks for your thoughts x
     
  3. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    The kind part of me says do a different poem. The rest of me says they need to get over it. This is not a muslim country and we shouldn't all have to restrict what we do to pander to a few people's absurd superstitions. These are not 'muslim' children, they are children whose parents are brainwashing them into believing some pretty silly things. I'm not sure I would want to go along with that. Where do you draw the line?
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I think it is the pictorial images and films that cause a problem, not the words or concept. So the respect would be not to ask them to illustrate the poem or to look at too many pictures and clips. Also not to tell them to stop being daft if they do cover their eyes.

    I imagine at some point they heard the story of the three little pigs in school, can't see this is any different. I wouldn't recommend cooking bacon sandwiches as a DT link though...

    My Muslim children are very serious about their faith but also accept that others don't share their views.
     
  5. Hi Lilybett,
    my husband and children are muslim, and wouldnt worry about that. Mind you when our daughter got a pig cuddly toy as a present from a visit to father christmas, i was wondering if my husband would say he'd rather she didnt have it, so I know what you mean. (he doesnt mind and its now her favourite cuddly toy).
    I would recommend speaking to a few of the parents - i dont know what your school policy is on this of course, and its slightly differnet in my sons school as there are very few faiths other than christianity or no particular faith, so they have always been really up for discussing re lessons etc with us, and we've been really open with them. I appreciate that again, each muslim parent will have a slightly different view on their faith. Is it possible that just a couple of the children have stricter views on this subject, and when they covered their eyes the rest of the children followed suit?
    all the best
     
  6. Thank you so much for the replies, and for not calling me silly! [​IMG]
    The other thing I maybe should have mentioned is that it's a C of E school. I'm not saying Islam isn't accepted and welcomed - it certainly is. But, for example, at Christmas and Easter, Muslim children were expected to join in with the Christian celebrations because their parents had chosen to send them to a CofE school.
    It's a weird one. I'm talking about much more than The Pig now! In some ways, I think these children segregate themselves. They definitely see themselves as DIFFERENT and they definitely group together given a tenth of a chance. A part of me thinks this strong religious and ethnic identity should be encouraged, and that it's not my or anybody else's job to try to interfere and engineer it so they mix more with other children. But another part of me wonders if occasionally it IS my job to encourage mixing, so that ALL children (Muslim, Christian and non-religious) appreciate that some people are different to them and there's nowt wrong with this? x
     
  7. seza-lou

    seza-lou New commenter

    At my school we were doing a unit on traditional tales and one of the stories that was planned was "The three little pigs" one of the other classes has a couple of muslim children and because of this the class teacher chose not to do the story.
    I think it is a difficult situation, but personally I would have had a quick chat to the parents saying this is what we are doing but it will be done in a sensitive way etc etc and hopefully they will not object
     
  8. sara2323

    sara2323 New commenter

    I teach very mixed group of children, which includes black, asian and white children and I have to say that they learn so much from each other. I love the fact that sometimes during lessons it gives them the opportunity to become 'experts' the children who visit church, mosque etc love sharing their experiences.
    However children from all ethnicities at some point or the other have said things which have been upsetting to others! I have had children who would refuse to sit next to children who are black or asian! I try hard to mix them up by changing talk partners regularly, encouraging them to include others in games.
    Just want to say that I have never had any problems with teaching three little pigs or any other story. The school is a C of E school and children enjoy participating in both the Christmas and the Easter plays and we also have regular prayers throughout the day and they all take part in them.
     
  9. What the pupils have is a cultural misunderstanding about pigs. What sometimes happens is that one pupil holds a view and then others join in. It's up to the teacher to sensitively guide children through these misunderstandings and good RE helps. If you are brought up to see pigs as haram to eat, then it is possible that you don't have that 'cute' storybook perception of pigs that others cultures may have. You will see similar things about perceptions towards dogs; many Muslim children will accept them as working animals but may see them as dirty for household pets.
     
  10. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    in reality, when i used to walk the dog we had, muslim adults would cross the road to not be near.......I respect their view but unless it s faith school then they need to learn of other cultures,
    I used to teach in a Cof E primary and the muslim children in there took part in everything..including prayers.Their parents had wanted to go to our school to learn of other beliefs and cultures........and we respected some viewa such a s dress and cover..but the rest they joined in with .Natually we did try not to cause offence........
    I would think these children should have it explained why the story is used and accept it as such...a story.One could indeed mention it to parents.......unless they are total zelots many wont mind and will explain the difference to their children.
     
  11. I think that it is you that has the problem. You obviously don't feel comfortable with children (or people) of other faiths and so are creating some kind of problem to jusify your feelings. Children naturally mix with others unless there is a culture within your school of not mixing and seperating the christians and non christians.
     
  12. Sorry, I meant to write separating.
    Anyway, I agree with the post above mine. Also, the more I think about it, the more unbelieveable your account seems. 'The segregated group of muslims all covering their eyes at the sight of a ... pig.
    You really need to address your own misconceptions about different cultures and religions.
     
  13. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    Just to clarify.
    We are talking about a pig, right? The farm yard animals that enjoy a good mud bath?
    Just thought I should check as it seemed people were actually understanding of children not wanting to look at a . . .pig. A bloody pig.
    Seriously. Maybe you could tell the children (and their parents) to stop being so silly. It is a pig.
     
  14. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    As a muslim, I was also finding the OP quite weird. It could be true, of course, children sometimes do silly things and others copy. But muslim children have surely seen many pictures of pigs in books before, having grown up here. Even in other traditions, you will have to admit that pigs have always had a reputation for rolling around in mud and being a bit smelly, hence the phrase "pigsty", or using the word "pig" as an insult. You wouldn't call someone a "rabbit" to insult them but some people might use "dog/***" (unfortunately).This perception is possibly exaggerated in many muslim cultures, when added to the prohibition of eating pork. But the Islamic position (as far as I'm aware) is that all animals are God's creation and to be treated well while they are alive (as we can kill and eat some of them, obviously). There is also an issue with dog's saliva; a person would need to wash it off their clothes/skin before praying, hence some muslims might wish to avoid being licked by dogs in the street etc. For this reason also muslims who keep dogs would not allow them inside the house, where people pray on the carpets etc., just as they would normally remove theri shoes on entering the home. They may keep a guard dog/sheepdog etc.outside in a kennel or something. But it wouldn't be an ideal pet for a muslim. We prefer cats!
     
  15. legoearth

    legoearth New commenter

    My class is 80% from a family of the Muslim faith . Some have more knowledge of the faith than others but NONE of them object to a whole literacy unit based around the 3 little pigs. Many of them own dogs. you will find the aversion to dogs,by the way,is culrutal not religious.
    Any way back to the point,. You should not allow these children to congregate together during lessons if it is affecting their work. As a previous post pointed out,this is not a Muslim country and they should be coaxed gently to accept that in this country pigs are part of every day life and not something to fear! They should be encouraged to mix and to share their views and listen to others, not shy away into a mini ghetto.
    Their behaviour in covering their eyes is silly and should be discouraged. You're trying too hard to accomodate them, they need to fit in with everybody else in the way they conduct themselves in class. Encourage them to share what they know about their parents faith as well as other members of the class, we have had some wonderful conversations. Good luck!
     

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