Lost Day Ethics Catch-Up, 9/19/2020: Even Ketchup Can’t Cover The Bad Taste Of This Post!

1.  Is it possible that this is real? A couple allegedly sent this email to wedding reception invitees, explaining that their meals would be determined by the value of the wedding gifts they planned on bringing.

Are there really people this crass? Who in their right mind would do anything but send a curt “Bite me!” note to such a couple, and resolve never to waste a second on them again?

2. OK, I don’t see anything wrong with this, at all. The assignment for an Iowa City school district online learning program asked students of all races to write four sentences about what they would do if they were a slave who was freed.

“Think very, very carefully about what your life would be like as a slave in 1865,” the students were asked.  “You can’t read or write and you have never been off the plantation you work on. What would you do when you hear the news you are free? What factors would play into the decision you make?” After an uproar from parents, the assignment was removed and the teacher was placed on administrative leave. A statement from the district called the assignment “inappropriate” and said it “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.”

What would that be? Assignments that call for critical thought and imagination?

Dibny Gamez said her 14-year-old daughter, Ayesha, who is black, would not complete the assignment because it made her feel uncomfortable. “She just starts tearing up,” Gamez said. “And I was, like, ‘No, listen, you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are.’ I said, ‘You are beautiful for who you are. Don’t let not one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.’” How would that assignment make a rational student be ashamed of who she is?

Justin Grinage, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Minnesota , claims that assignments asking students to role-play enslaved people or slave owners trivialize or distort the actual events of slavery. “The best-case scenario with lessons like this is that students come away with a fabricated lie about history. So, best-case scenario, they don’t really learn anything, or they learn the wrong thing,” Grinage told reporters. “Worst-case scenario is that it’s a deeply traumatic experience for students of color, particularly Black students.”

Why? Because he says so? Such an assignment is an excellent way to open up the topics of slavery, how it persisted, what led to its abolition, and why it is such an emotional and controversial issue, as well as empathy, the Golden Rule, and ethics. Continue reading