Feature

Banning the Taliban from 8th grade

A Virginia school called off a debate after students were told to represent the Taliban, and parents objected.

Should eighth-graders be instructed to think like the Taliban?  That's the question parents at Swanson Middle School asked after teachers assigned a group of students to represent the Islamic fundamentalist group in a mock United Nations debate.  Some parents objected so strongly that the school eventually called off the debate, but others wonder whether the middle schoolers missed a valuable opportunity to see "the other side of the story."

The Taliban hit too close to home: The eighth-graders at Swanson Middle School live only a few miles from the Pentagon, and might have parents in the military, says Chris Needham at NBC Washington.  Being "thrust into explaining and defending the rights of the Taliban" so close to our nation's military center is "a pretty tough debate for a kid to handle," no matter where you stand politically."Arlington Schools: Now With Less Taliban"Kids should learn to see both sides: You don't have to be a fan of the Taliban to understand the value of learning more about their views, writes Philip Giraldi in American Conservative Magazine. "Ignorance may indeed be bliss," but "teaching students that there might well be two sides (or more)… is not intrinsically harmful." If we really cherish academic freedom, we'll practice it—even if the topic is "objectionable."Taliban Not Fit for Student Consumption" This debate's too mature for 12-year-olds: Does the Taliban mentality have any place in an eighth-grade academic curriculum? asks Anti-BVBL.  Most kids this age study ancient history, and ninth grade brings them up to "modern times."  Eighth-graders are simply too young to do "in-depth studies about heinous groups or evil empires," especially if it means visiting Taliban websites in the name of "research."Arlington School Cancels Taliban Debate"

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