In the last post I claimed that breaking taboos in the media is healthy while when relationships are at stake it is detrimental. But I think it is also worth bearing in mind that while rapport is very important between student and teachers, we do have a responsibility to make people a bit more open-minded and urbane, and we can facilitate this by using media in class to give controversial ideas a detachment from our ourselves and avoid potential for offence or discomfort.
As I touched on before, politics is a significant taboo and one which can upset even the most mild-mannered of people, not to mention even get you booted out of some countries. Anyone who has taught in China should know that the ‘The Three Ts’ are technically forbidden – except I suppose in the rare event that students actually insist on discussing them, while you absorb their opinions without really saying much.
Nevertheless, we do need to study taboo and it is perfectly possible to broach the general area of politics in a benign and yet interesting way; objectively rather than subjectively. We can show students that politics is a fascinating area for thought and discussion and a healthy interest can keep you both intellectually sharp and abreast of contemporary society.
Politics is not something people should shy away from. If you interact with people internationally, you don’t want to be feeling gauche or at a loss. Rather, you want to be well-informed and able to participate. And so with this in mind, I have created two content-based lesson plans for Upper Intermediate and Advanced students respectively. These two one-hour lessons give a basic outline of the subject while incorporating communicative activities and plenty of springboards for discussion.
Give ’em a go.