I'm not quite sure what I saw today. It was only my second day with this particular class (as a substitute Special Ed ) and my first day while they were studying this subject. In addition, the regular teacher was out, leaving a sub to do the lesson.
They all had small books about the geography/culture of the Persian Gulf, that seem to have been published in the mid-90's. The sub wrote the following essay topic on the board:
Compare and Contrast the way women were treated in Iraq before Saddam [which he misspelled] Hussein was captured.
After reading this three times, I asked if he had forgotten a word, as that makes no sense. However, it was what was in the teacher's notes. We took a chance an added "and now" to the end.
Still, I was very uncomfortable with the topic. These were 5th graders, and the way the sentence was worded seemed leading. I asked some of the kids what they knew about Iraqi women:
"They have to cover up everything except their eyes."
"They can't leave the house by themselves."
"They can't have jobs."
Their tiny little textbooks offered no information on Iraqi women at any point in history. I wasn't sure if this was what their teacher (or parents) had told them, or if they had heard and misunderstood different things. It seemed possible that they had mixed up the plight of the women of Afghanistan and the general downtrodden state of the people of Iraq. It also seemed possible that someone had given them a live of false propaganda. I wasn't certain, but I was terribly uncomfortable about the whole thing.
I really wanted to tell them all to go read Baghdad Burning to see Riverbend's take (as an Iraqi woman) on what it has been like to be a woman in Iraq.
Unfortunately the fact that I wasn't quite sure what was going on and the fact that I wasn't the classroom teacher was combined with the fact that we suddenly had a fire drill to deal with and that by the time we got back into the classroom, it was pretty much time to go home.
I'm still feeling frustrated about that.