Homework assignment: Terrorist Attack

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by bandnerdtx, Aug 30, 2010.

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  1. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    A fairly new teacher asked her students to plan a terrorist attack that would kill as many innocent people as possible. She also asked them to explain which group they would target and why...

    I'm sure she had good intentions, but oh my... what was she thinking???

    High School Teacher Asks Class to Plan Terrorist Attack
     
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  3. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    wow.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I can't believe that any professional would give this type of assignment.
     
  5. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    How did she think this was going to play out? Good intentions? Really?
     
  6. XOEmmyLouOX

    XOEmmyLouOX Rookie

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    Wow.. That was a really BAD idea.. :rolleyes:
     
  7. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I know, right?! I really am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I just don't see how this made sense to her.
     
  8. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    ummm....yeah....wow
     
  9. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    WOW!!! How could she?!!?
     
  10. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    No doubt that one will come back to her when parents hear about it.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I sincerely hope she has a long lucrative waitressing career.

    This was no small error. It was a MAJOR lapse in judgement that should have every future employer questioning her ability to teach.

    Drunk drivers always have the best of intentions too. Yet we try to keep them off the road.

    Pull this woman out of the classroom today.
     
  12. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Well, when I was in high school, we had to do something similar, only from the perspective of defending against the attack. But in order to come up with a defense for chemical attacks, we had to come up with possible ways we would be attacked. My group came up with three fairly detailed attack plans, as well as the defenses against them. My sister did a similar project at a different high school ten years before I did, and hers won first place at the state social studies fair!

    I think the project was worded incorrectly, and presented from the wrong perspective, but I get what she was trying to do. I don't think she should be fired immediately. Disciplined in some way (suspended? strongly worded note in file?) but not necessarily fired. Certainly she will think twice (or thrice) about the wording of any work she gives from now on, and it may make her a better teacher in the long run.
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Back in the day when it was hypothetical, perhaps there was some merit to the assignement. I can't find it, but I'll concede that perhaps it was there.

    But now that such an attack is part of the fabric of our lives???

    Sorry, in my humble opinon, it's indefensible.
     
  14. KLSSwimmer

    KLSSwimmer Habitué

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    Oh mercy!
     
  15. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Perhaps, but attacks of that kind have always been a part of the fabric of the world. They have been a part of daily life for those in countries around the world since the beginning of the world. Notice that the teacher is in Australia, which does not have the same culture of fear and sensitivity that the US has right now.

    Not that I think what she did was right, or that she went about it the right way, but that assignment doesn't bother me so much that I think she should be fired. I see where she was going with it, or trying to, but she lacked the skills to set the assignment up to do what she wanted it to do.
     
  16. apple25

    apple25 Comrade

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    Wow - I'm stunned, really. She was asking her students to research how to murder people - I have never heard of anything like that before!
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I have to weigh in with MissCelia.

    I think the teacher went about this assignment in an incredibly naive' fashion, but I also understand what (I think) the overall purpose was (or at least what I hope it was).

    In order to defend against terrorism, one must first think like a terrorist.

    Also, as MissCelia pointed out, this was in Australia rather than America, so the cultural setting is a little different than ours. The teacher definitely should have gone to the admin (or at least other team members) for their input on the assignment. I think a different approach (and much different wording) would have made the assignment less horrifying. I also cannot agree the teacher should be fired for making one very bad judgment about an assignment.
     
  18. John Lee

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    I like the fact that this teacher is very open in addressing topics that could use serious dialogue, in the classroom.

    I dislike the actual assignment though. (I still don't understand the point.)
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I understand that the assignment was given to an Australian class.

    Americans aren't, by any stretch of the imagination the only victims of terrrorism. It's not an "American" issue.

    I was at JFK the night that Pam103 was shot down over Lockerbie; I remember the fear in the eyes of so many people. And I remember crying as I watched the 1972 Olympics. I remember the Achille Lauro and the attacks in Nairobe.

    Just a short list of some other examples-- some American, many not (and all except the 1972 Olympics have taken place during my teaching career... these are NOT ancient history.):
    "The following incidents have been described as domestic and international terrorism:
    -the June 1985 double-bombing of Air India jets originating from Canada,
    -the 1993 Mumbai bombings,
    -the Oklahoma City bombing in the USA (April 19, 1995);
    -the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland (August 15, 1998);
    -the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, and Washington DC, USA;
    -the Munich Massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972;
    -the Bali bombing in October 2002,
    -the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988,
    - attack on Indian Parliament (December 13, 2001),
    -the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in 1996,
    -the March 11, 2004 attacks in Madrid,
    -July 7, 2005 bombings in London
    -the second Bali bombing in October 2005.
    ...
    The deadliest events described as terrorism and not known to have been sponsored by a state were
    - the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia.

    So far as is known, the deadliest attack planned but not executed was Operation Bojinka, which aimed to murder Pope John Paul II and blow up 11 airliners. The plot was aborted after an apartment fire in Manila, Philippines on January 5, 1995 exposed the operation to police. The militants who were planning it were just over two weeks away from implementing their plot. Other plots, such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, were designed to kill thousands but failed to do so."
    (from http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/terrorism/examples-of-major-incidents.html)

    Why they didn't mention the assortment of attacks in Indonesia, I'm not sure. Likewise the terror attacks in Africa.

    And, no, that's not a full list by any stretch of the imagination.

    And let's not forget the Australian citizens who were killed on 9/11.

    It's not the American in me that wants this woman's job, it's the teacher and the mom and the human being. Terrorism is not a "fun" assignment. It's not a game we play to make class more exciting-- let's see who can kill the most innocent citizens; who has the most sadistic way to hurt other human beings?

    Studying terrorism is appropriate and necessary.

    Planning ways to further it is not.
     
  20. oppa637

    oppa637 Rookie

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    I can understand what she was going for. Just being inexperienced and probably being busy made her not recheck her assignment. I'm sure it sounded good to her, just didn't realize how'd it sound to others.
     
  21. SunnyReader

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    I do not understand what the point of this assignment was. She needs to be taken out of the classroom for good.
     
  22. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Even if she's young, inexperienced, and super busy... I still don't see the VALUE in getting children to consider ways to commit mass murder. Especially in light of the multiple school shootings that have occurred around the world.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Good for the 15 year old student who had the courage and parental support to stand up and voice her opposition to this assignment.
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    She is teaching a social class...I think that's worth keeping in mind in regards to the purpose of the assignment. I'm curious as to the heart of the project and will see if I'm able to find any additional information.

    As of right now, I don't feel she should be removed from her teaching position. But I agree...you think an educator wouldn't want to touch this with a ten foot pole even if it does have some incredible lesson or value. :eek:
     
  25. Bumble

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    Is she out of her mind???? She needs to be removed from the classroom. It baffles my mind that the administration is supporting her!!!
     
  26. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    If one of my children had this teacher, I would be up in arms, not in the literal sense. Very bad judgement. It is indefensable and just plain insensitive. Bad taste, negative, rude, crude and socially unacceptable too. So there...
     
  27. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Since she's teaching a social class, maybe it was an elaborate challenge to see which students would recognize it as being socially unacceptable?

    ...Giving her too much credit, eh? :)
     
  28. Hoot Owl

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    I don't care what the culture of her area is, this is a heartless and cruel assignment. If I'd had a kid in her class I'd be outside of her school picketing for her removal.
     
  29. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    From the paper which originally published the story:

    But Murdoch University's academic chairman of security and terrorism studies Rajat Ganguly said it was important to understand how terrorists' minds worked to find ways to stop them.

    Australians were too complacent about terrorism because they were geographically isolated. "I think the intention was probably very good, to make people come out of their comfort zone," he said.

    Dr Ganguly said the rationale behind the project could have been better explained to the students. But he did not see how it was possible to teach students about terrorism without trying to learn how they thought.

    "Terrorism is probably the most important issue right now in the world," he said. "How do you get them to think analytically about terrorism without discussing some of the effects?"

    University of WA education professor and assessment expert David Andrich said the assignment was well-structured, but the specific question was inappropriate.
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I would imagine it would be possible to find points of view from equally respected sources that disagree.

    I'm too hot and tired to bother, but I bet they're out there.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Of course...

    I just went to the original source and this was the first article listed for this topic. As you can imagine, there were other sources in the same article which disagree. I just figured that given the general consenus here there wasn't a need to find more people who agree this was a poor assignment...I wanted to share the other perspective.
     
  32. ~Evolution~

    ~Evolution~ Rookie

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    As an Australian I can say that yes our cultural setting is different than America, but we too have suffered as a nation from terrorism, most prominently the Bali Bombings which were very "close to home".

    I think that whatever the purpose or goal of this activity it was totally and completely inappropriate. I can only imagine the pain and distress a student in that school would have felt at hearing of such an assignment if they had lost a loved one in a terrorist attack. There was no professionalism shown by this teacher and certainly no regard for the emotional well-being of their students, which upsets me greatly.

    Just my :2cents:
     
  33. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    I still don't understand. You could have a discussion (doesn't have to be a written assignment) that address the same issue, and students can realize some opinions on the subject. Without actually "planning" the way you might bring explosives onto a plane or something. That part still makes no sense. (Just talk; you can bandy about the various ways without getting technical. Why would getting into specifics help your understanding?)

    Like I said, I'm all for any assignment that is edgy, controversial (i.e. if the teacher asked students to talk about 9/11 and the conspiracy aspect of it). Someone would have to explain further, the purpose of this assignment.
     
  34. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I'm not saying it was the idea of the year...just passing along an interesting perspective. I would love to see the actual assignment. I found a photo of the girl holding the paper and zoomed in...but it wasn't crisp enough. I would like to hear the rationale or objective behind the assignment.
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The opinions of leftward leaning college professors do little to convince me that this was a rational assignment.
     
  36. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Ladies and gentlemen, I'm not trying to convince anyone anything. Not that anyone has outright said otherwise, but I just want to be clear. Simply adding to the story. :)
     
  37. Chalk

    Chalk Companion

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    :mad::mad::mad:
    What gets me is that nearly everyone on here is condemning her for this mistake.

    I would like to see the records of all of you and see if I can find a mistake or error in judgement you made so we can sack you for it as well.

    Most of you seem to miss the part about "This teacher is highly regarded by her peers and students" in other words for a new teacher she is considered effective in her duty. She screwed up, big deal, she corrected it, no one is dead and she recognizes her error and will not try this again.
     
  38. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    If she were going to choose terrorism (which I think is just a crazy topic for her to use), why would she choose the perspective of the terrorist? Plan how many innocent people to attack? Our teaching should be preparing our students for the real world-is she teaching them to be terrorist? I think someone with that poor judgement (which is really understating the issue here) probably does not belong in the classroom. Even if one were to perceive her action as not worthy enough of firing, we must ask ourselves what is going on in her mind, and is that who we really want teaching our children?? What else is she doing in the classroom???
     
  39. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    As was pointed out earlier, one possible reason for the assignment could be seeing what scenarios the college students would come up with. It's possible someone with a different perspective would come up with a scenario the government officials had never considered. Then they could consider the logistics of the scenario and decide if it is realistic. If so, that will give them a new scenario to plan and defend against.

    There are a series of dams in my geographic area that provide power and recreation to the residents. Even though the dams are in different areas, several of them are located along the same river system. Several years ago, a friend and I were talking and he mentioned how much damage could be done if somebody were to set timed charges on each of these dams, so that the 2nd blew as the water from the first one was reaching it. I don't know how feasible it would be, but theoretically, the damage and devastation would increase exponentially as the each successive dam was destroyed.

    On a non-hypothetical note, the U.S. government never considered the effect a U-haul truck full of explosives could have on a federal building, until Tim McVeigh set one off in Oklahoma City. Precautions had been taken to prevent large trucks from reaching the White House, Pentagon and military bases because of suicide bomber attacks on American bases in other countries, but they never considered the possibility of a terrorists attacking a NON-military target.

    So getting ideas from other sources has some merit.

    Then again, a member of another forum said they had a similar assignment at his U and the students that designed the "best" scenarios found themselves being kept after class for consultation with the school counselors. Once again, the idea has some merit (trying to find the students that harbor such thoughts), but the ones who act on these ideas are those that have the thoughts without being prompted...so assigning students to think that way undermines the purpose.
     
  40. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I have not read the article, but I'm wondering how much of the story we don't understand, and how much the media is spinning this. I hear these insane stories of what teachers are doing, and I think "are they REALLY that clueless, or is there something the newspaper isn't reporting." Whatever the reason, not the best assignment to to teach about terrorism.
     
  41. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    But if the assignment asks the student to pretend he or she is the terrorist planning to kill innocent people, that is much different than planning a defense against a terrorist planning to kill innocent people. I don't see, under any situation, that this situation is appropriate at all. Of course there could be something we don't know, but if what we do know is true, I am not sure what other possible factors could make this assignment ok.
     
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