Thursday, October 30, 2014

Challenging the stereotypes

One of the most frustrating parts about being a teacher is realising that my students bought lock stock and barrel the racial/ religious stereotypes that were virulent in Singapore. I have lectured, nagged, corrected, ranted and raved at them for making grievous assertions.

Evan came home announcing that there was a food drive in school where they were supposed to bring can food to donate to the underprivileged. While Evan tried to explain the mechanics of the food drive to me, I felt the familiar sensation of my blood boiling. But I had to remind myself that this was my son and he was 7 years old and he was reporting a message he had been told in school.

He had said "We need to buy can food to give to the poor people. And the food must be Halal because the poor people are Muslims."

In my mind, this was a precursor to the ignorant assertions I hear from 17 year olds about how all Muslims are terrorists and all poor people live in Africa. I am very sure that their stereotypes come from bits and pieces of misinformation as well.

I don't think his teacher actually said any of that to him. I suspect the message was that
a. We are running a can food donation drive for the underprivileged.
b. Please make sure the can food is Halal so that if the underprivileged we are going to give the can food to are Muslim, they can eat it too.

So, donning my teacher hat, I proceeded to try to correct the misinformation and explained to him that it wasn't that all poor people were Muslim and that it was so that we could bless everyone equally with our donation.

I could see he was having a bit of a hard time understanding everything I was explaining to him but he tried to correct himself later on. And he was very pleased with the stash of can food he had picked out. Of course, he's footing half the bill so perhaps, when I tell him that he owes me $6, he isn't going to be so pleased.


Post a Comment