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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We've Got Good News and Bad News....

Here's a quick quiz for you:

World news is....
A) important to know about
B) not followed by many third graders
C) scary
D) all of the above

  If you answered D, you are correct!

  Today we read in our Time for Kids news magazine about the protests in Egypt.  We read the article together and looked at cause and effect throughout the news story.  "We are reading about and discussing important world news!" I thought as I looked out at the kids thumbing through their magazines.  "Thank you, Time for Kids, for helping us understanding recent global events and their relevance to our own lives!  And for the glossiness of your full-color pages!"

Image: Time for Kids
 The third/fourth grade edition of the magazine covers some real news, unlike the younger grade versions which feature hot topics such as bridges.  And animals' teeth.  But no--in third grade today we discussed the causes of the protests in Egypt, from the high food prices and unemployment to Mubarak's dishonesty.  We also discussed the effects of the protests and how they have spread democratic fervor to other nations.  Well, OK, so I didn't so much use the word "fervor," but we did learn today that--contrary to popular third grade belief--"unrest" doesn't mean you're sleepy. 

  There we were, rolling along, when Tyson raised his hand.  "I know why the protests in Egypt started" he said.  Tyson proceeded to give a very solid explanation of how the Tunisian demonstrations and unrest had begun the whole thing.  "People couldn't afford food, they were really upset" he began.  Looking ahead to where his explanation might possibly lead us, picturing the nightmares that third graders would have following a graphic recounting of a man setting himself on fire in protest, imagining the parental concerns, I paused him for a moment.

 "Is this something that is...OK for kids to hear?" I asked.  "Yup" he replied and continued.  "So the food prices were really high and people were really upset and this one guy who was a fruit seller..."

  "Ahem" I interrupted.  "Just to clarify once again, Tyson.  This is something that's OK for kids to hear, right?" I asked while furiously sending out mental signals to Tyson to communicate that the REAL meaning of my question was, "This is NOT going to be about self-immolation, RIGHT?"

  "Yup" he replied once more before continuing.

  He was right at the precipice, though, and I could tell that the next bit of news was going to be the scary part.  My mental messages and not-so-subtle questions were sufficient, though, to halt his speeding train of thought in time.  With nowhere else left to go in his recounting of the news, but with all eyes still on him, Tyson petered out with "Um...and then, well, um and..." before we wrapped up the class discussion and transitioned into literacy centers.  He and I had a brief chat one-on-one where he got to tell me the rest of that news story while everyone else got out their center work.

  And there you have my censoring of important global events.  World news is definitely a) important to know about, b) not followed by many third graders, but can also certainly be c) scary.  I'm glad if kids are discussing news of all kinds with their parents, the good and the bad, but in class today we stopped short of the full picture in favor of making the news just a bit more kid-friendly.

1 comment:

Sherri said...

I always was amazed when my kids would bring home the Time for Kids! I mean, they ARE older and should be learning about world events. But I have a hard time with some of the suicide bombings, etc...when they are still so young and vulnerable to bad dreams, etc..

What a smart little guy though, trying to share the story!