|The single orbit of Vostok 1, April 12, 1961|
Science and math obviously, history, geography, culture obviously? Was Gagarin's trip celebrated in the US on the 10th or 25th Anniversary? Why do your students think it wasn't? What will they discover if they investigate that? And what about writing? How might it have felt to sit atop that rocket? How might it have felt to know the science but have no other human who could possibly share the experience? Gagarin was a lover of poetry, did that help him?
|Protester defies veil ban in Paris|
This sounds shocking to Americans and Canadians, and a bit troubling to Brits, and possibly refreshing to the Irish, but the idea of a secular society is deeply ingrained in France.
Can your students really comprehend laïcité? To the French, or most Turks, the United States is almost a theocracy. "My goodness," a Turkish student at Michigan State University once told a group of high school students, "it says "God" on every piece of your money!" She was deeply offended. "That has no place in a democracy." She, a Muslim, was debating with a Muslim woman from Malaysia, the French and Turkish bans on headscarves in courts and on university campuses. These two women, from the same religion but vastly different cultures, were mutually outraged by the other's opinions. It was one of the best learning moments I have ever seen in a school classroom.
A respected friend told me last night, "but wearing the veil may be much more about culture than religion," which is true, as the paragraph above perhaps illustrates, but then, nations limit dress for cultural reasons all the time. In most places in America you'll get arrested - maybe even declared mentally ill - for walking around naked, even if it is 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees C) and you believe it's fine to be seen. Is that any different, in concept, than France's law? The assumption is "cultural offense" I guess. From a public safety point of view, at least you know a naked person isn't hiding anything dangerous.
I said to her, we have to understand the histories of these nations. In both France and Turkey democracy was created by - at least in the collective memory - overthrowing religion, the Church State of the Ancien Régime and the Church State of the Ottoman Empire (Yüce Osmanlı Devleti). As the US and Ireland object to royalty (despite Sinn Fein's Gerry Adam's role as a Baron), these nations object to religion in public.
In other words, the questions may not be as simple as some suggest, and the position of France may not suggest intolerance - France was, I will point out, among the only nations to unreservedly accept anyone fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s, something neither the US nor the UK would do.
What will your students say? How will they research this? Who will they ask? This is true critical thinking, and it surely involves language, history, culture, geography, science, maybe even the math of statistics.
|Watching an eagles nest 24/7|
And this introduces you to the "fantastic window" idea. Webcams are everywhere. You can watch cities, beaches and oceans, campuses, or from space. Don't keep that window closed.
- Ira Socol