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Guantanamo Bay lessons

Posted by hema on August 25, 2007

one of the modules on the citizenship course under democracy deals with the rights of the citizens etc. because the course is a bit of a mess and noone really knows what they are doing when it comes to citizenship (isn’t it a mess throughout the whole country?), i’ve been told to teach whatever i want, within reason. so, i’ve been looking at guantanamo bay and discussing how it fits with the idea of civil liberties. i chose guantanamo bay mainly because it’s something which is in the news and so the students would feel relatively comfortable holding a discussion about it, and it worked. in fact, every time i teach this lesson it grabs the students’ attention and really makes them think about some of the views they hold, which is all i’m aiming to do.

if the students are genuinely interested in the topic and doing research, the topic can be used as a basis for formal assessment. i have used it for the key skills communications portfolio to assess them under the discussion section( here’s the lesson plan)and also for GCSE English oral assessment under group work. i have found the topic works best as an oral assessment, but have set it for written work as well as for creative writing (a persuasive piece on why the camp should be closed down or an imaginative piece(write a dairy of an inmate) other suggestions could be analysing a newspaper report (under media, looking at facts and opinions etc) or analysing an article as a persuasive text.articles and stories, along with useful links can be found on the cageprisoners website.

15 Responses to “Guantanamo Bay lessons”

  1. Shahrzad said

    Waw, it is wonderful idea. When media tries to fill minds with lie, it is the best way for your students to learn not to judge blindly and search about the news they hear. It helps them to think and analyse about events happen around them or outside the country, people around the world and their problems, injustice and pain. It helps them to grow up as human being..
    Hema, you are very good teacher 🙂

  2. mishymoshy said

    Ooh good idea for a lesson, I remember watching “The Road to Guantanamo” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468094/) on TV, maybe you could use clips of it your lessons. There was also a programme on Channel 4 where they “recreated” GB with a group of volunteers (some were against the idea of institutes such as GB and some were for). They obviously didn’t subject them to the full scale horrors of GB but they gave them an idea what it was like, for example deprived them of sleep, constantly moved them from cell to cell, verbal abuse etc. This one guy who was 100% for the idea of detainment without reason lasted less than 24hours, quit and changed his entire outlook on the idea. It was on channel 4 and for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called but I’m sure you’ll be able to download it from 4 on demand.

    “…have set it for written work as well as for creative writing (a persuasive piece on why the camp should be closed down”

    The wording of the question seems biased. I know almost everyone is against GB but shouldn’t you leave the question open ended? It could be interesting to hear what students have to say who aren’t against it

  3. Pacific said

    Pleasae check this interesting article.

    Women Forced to Seek Power, Not Love


    “This is a bright girl in a Pre-Med program yet she was so easily duped to deny her femininity. They told her it was “socially constructed” and and she had to be “independent” and now she is ready to repress her biological instincts and stunt her natural development.”

  4. 'liya said

    Hema, this looks really great! I hope I can do something like this one day, I love lessons that are relevant to today’s issues. Some students have very strong opinions but others might not even know anything about them so it’s good to bring it to their attention and break their happy little bubble. Good work!

  5. L said

    Someone told me one of your friends is married to an ex Guantanamo detainee?


    Salaam Hema!

  7. hema said

    sharzad- “When media tries to fill minds with lie, it is the best way for your students to learn not to judge blindly and search about the news they hear”
    that’s the idea.i am hoping to cover a lot more issues in the future.just pray for me, it’s a hard job. you’re a journalist right? i think having Muslims in that field is even more important.

    mishy- i know about the tipton three programme- i decided not to use it. most of my students have an attention span of about ten minutes, even when it comes to watching videos.
    but i love the idea of the other programme, it sounds like just what i need. hope you can remember for me.
    you’ve also made me think about using youtube in my lessons, so double thanks. i’ve got no idea why i didn’t think of it before. i can use it on the interactive whiteboard.

    “the wording of the question seems biased”- well, i was giving suggestions orally, because as you know students can choose to write about what they want in their original writing coursework.
    you’re right though, i should be more careful with my wording.
    but there are plenty that are against it being closed down. reasons range from the fact that it’s for the greater good of society(never mind that they might feel differently if it was someone close to them) and the fact that they deserve it for the crimes they committed(never mind that they could be innocent)
    i think a lot of my students just agree with me in the end to shut me up! or becuause they think they might get a better mark, even though i would never do that.

    pacific- gosh, that’s quite scary. ahem.. can i just clarify that despite my anti-baby stance, i would never encourage such behaviour (i’m getting quite worried now)

    liya- as i said, i’m hoping to do more work like this, so maybe we can encourage each other (as well as planning trips!)

    natasha-wasalaam:) i sent you an email..hope you got it. xx

  8. mishymoshy said

    The name of that programme is The Guantanamo Guidebook, it was part of Dispatches. You can find the whole thing on youtube but I re-watched a few mins of it and not surprisingly it was rather disturbing. I’m sure I watched this with my brother but we must have been on teletext half the time because it does contain, er, shall we say certain images to which you should avert your gaze :s

    Using youtube in lessons is great, one of our tutors did that last year. V handy and saves you coughing up for dvds!

  9. Shahrzad said

    Yes, i am social journalist.
    Really having muslims is good idea, when power of media be under their rule. But muslims are not powerful there, all power in under hands of west. so no difference. They makes waves and they move kinds of vulgar. They feed minds and it is too much power.
    Many times i passed by something i really like to write, or i got censured. At first i taught i will do good job, but after sometime i got there are many red lines..Who want to be sincere can not accept the atmosphere of liars or have to tolerate much suffering. World of lie, that’s world of Media..

  10. ymiss said

    Hema: Just read your thinking of using youtube in class, I tried it once, had to turn the power of from the mains. Images appeared below the vid that were slightly inappropriate for 9year olds. If you use it make sure you set it so your viewing it full screen before the class comes in.

    Then again you work with teenagers so would that be a problem? I’m sure they would be mature enough to not scream ‘ewwwww they having a tongue wrestle’ and then not settle down for the rest of the lesson.

    Love the lesson plan, defiantly something I would take part in if I was in your class. I should look into bringing current news into PSHE.

  11. mishymoshy said

    Ymiss, what kind if videos were you showing your class?? I’ve never come across images like that on youtube! It reminds of those times you have to change the channel or something when your parents are about and you can’t find the remote, so embarrassing :s

  12. hema said

    thanks mishy, i’ll watch it tonight while i’m doing some marking (what, i’m good at multitasking)

    “but we must have been on teletext half the time..”
    haha i thought it was just us that did that!

    sharzad- gosh, it’s really scary that the west still has a certain control over the media even in an arab country.

    “At first i taught i will do good job, but after sometime i got there are many red lines..”

    i’m sure it must be tough, but so is anything worth doing. even if just a handful of people read your work, it would be worth it.

    thanks for the tip ymiss.
    “I’m sure they would be mature enough to not scream ‘ewwwww'”
    yes. but am i:)
    there are still certain rules about what you can show 16-18 year olds, although it’s obviosuly not as strict.

  13. Hey Hema…Mashallah I think this is a great topic and lesson for the students…like so many already said for many reasons the fact that they can relate to it due to it being current events, it’ll spark many thoughts and ideas from the creative and outspoken high school students, and they learn a bit of history. The laws of civil rights, and activism. I can’t wait to hear about the outcome and how today’s kids think about issues such as the Guantanamo Bay situation. Hugs 😉

  14. hema said

    mishyyyyyyyyy- i didn’t even last a minute watching that!

    thanks for the support cari! xx

  15. mishymoshy said

    I did warn you :p

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