Depending on the age group, the class, and how this was presented I don’t really have a problem with this assignment. In this case it was a middle school. If it were the older kids, getting ready to go into high school this kind of critical thinking could be good for them. The one issue I really have with the assignment is that it doesn’t provide enough information. For example one of the people on the list is, “an Asian, orphaned 12-year old boy”. That’s not enough information to know if I want him around or not. I might, I might not. Another is, “60-year old Jewish university administrator”.
Not enough information.
Is he a healthy 60 year old? Was he once a professor and has some knowledge he could pass along? Can I use his administrative skills to help manage the resources of our new home after the apocalypse? Another is “a militant African-American medical student”. Is he a first year medical student or has he been working at a hospital taking care of real patients? That makes more of a difference than his race or militancy. And in all of this their personal disposition matters. Are they kind, trustworthy, hard working? Tacking the word “militant” onto someone doesn’t mean they are actually angry or violent by nature. The end of the world may change their thinking a great deal!
If the lesson helps kids to ask these kinds of questions and helps them to recognize when they aren’t being told enough to make a quality choice, then I am all for an assignment like this.
Even if the assignment is meant to highlight biases I’m okay with it.
There isn’t a reason why kids can’t discuss and understand their own biases. If they choose not to pick someone to go and the reason is “I don’t like Asians” that’s a good thing to know about that kid and to explore. One of the sad things that the left has done to this country is to destroy the ability to have frank conversations about race and ethnicity and how we feel about those things. No one can admit that they have a racial bias anymore because to do so means they face public shame.
The left fail to recognize that just because someone isn’t talking about it, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking it. You can’t actually change people’s minds by forcing them to shut up. If you make a racist shut up then all you have is a quiet racist who is no frustrated at being told to shut up and sees his oppression as evidence that he’s right and justified in his racism. Good job left, that really solved the problem!
But when we sit down and talk about things, especially in a controlled and moderated environment we can get down to the essence of them. Why? Such an important question. “I don’t like Asians?” “Why?” With kids the answer will likely be, “I just don’t” and then we can wager that emotion is involved or upbringing and the kid doesn’t actually know. We can help him know. I think that is a just endeavor for any assignment.
Not all teachers want to teach the right things though.
Because not all teachers are unbiased I can see why parents in Ohio were outraged by this assignment. It could easily be used to indoctrinate the horrible concepts of white privilege and segregation. A teacher who was racist against whites could push that hard and a teacher who was racist against minorities could push that and applaud children for leaving Asians off the escape plan.
Because of this I think it’s vital that PARENTS teach their children CRITICAL THINKING before teachers get the chance to mess with their minds. Children who are armed with curiosity and the ability to discover will ask the right questions, seek the right answers, and not be swayed by emotion and bad logic. Peer pressure will be great against them on occasion and as a parent you must be there for them when that happens. Even if it is the world against you the obligation to stand by objective truth remains. That’s a hard lesson for a kid to learn.
An assignment like this, in the right hands, could be the tool these kids need to understand how to be life detectives investigating the clues to build a case for or against a certain bit of information. It’s not enough for our kids to just know things. It reminds me of a scripture, a very powerful one in my thinking, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:7
If you don’t ask you’ll never know.