liviconnor: Zoe roar (Flower!)
This Monday is St. Patrick's Day, if you recall. Given that some of my adult ESL students live and work in Boston, it seemed like a good idea to warn them. God forbid they decide that Monday was the day to explore Southie, and they run into drunken hordes of faux-Irishmen.

So here's the basic lesson plan: Split the class in half. Each half gets an article. It's a hard article, so they work together to crack it and answer a few basic comprehension questions. Then as a group they think of a few discussion questions related to their article.
Next they pair up with a student from the opposite group, and share what they read. Once everyone has a rough idea, they use the discussion questions to start a conversation about Boston's history and culture related to St. Patrick's Day.

Great, right?
So Group 1 got an article about Evacuation day and Group 2 got an article about this year's debate about whether or not LGBTQ vets should march in the St. P's day parade. The parade is put on by a private group of stuffy old Catholic Irish-American vets from Southie, who think they have the right to exclude whoever the fuck they want, so it's been a big deal.

It was hard, but the discussion questions were interesting. The best by far was:

Why don't gay people tell other people (that they're gay)?

Interesting, because one member of the group had no idea what 'Gay' even meant. I simplified LGBTQ to the offensively simple 'gay,' because it was ESL class and we didn't have time to get into the massively wonderful diversity that is human sexuality and gender identity.

At the beginning I'd thought: I have exactly one week left with this group. They're almost all moving out of my class, and maybe for them to realize that their English teacher has been queer this whole time would broaden their minds a little.

Then Alan reacted with horror and mockery at the very idea that some people aren't straight. As he said: "I love man! I love my father, I love my brother, I love my friend..."
Fanny: "No, love like marry!"
Alan: *grossed out face* "Love like marry! No, no, very few, not so many, no, this not good." *shaking his head*

And this was after we'd defined 'Discrimination' and written it on the board.

It's moments like this that I can almost hear a giant closet door swing shut in my face. I consciously choose to avoid pronouns, or use 'he and she' instead of picking one when I give examples, but then it becomes radically clear that sometimes all of that means absolutely nothing. I 'pass,' and even if I wore rainbows and sparkly flannel, it would mean absolutely nothing to someone when their eyes are so tightly closed.


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January 2015

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