Log in

No account? Create an account

Journal of No. 118

March 23rd, 2013

University exercise succeeds, and therefore removed from curriculum @ 08:32 am

Now, there's a fair amount of he said/she said here, so keep that in mind.

But in a class on Intercultural Communications at Florida Atlantic University, the professor made use of an exercise in the textbook, presumably to demonstrate cultural sensitivities:
“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

What happened next is a bit unclear. A student alleges that he refused to stomp on Jesus, and was suspended. The University's final story is that "no students were forced to take part in the exercise ... [and] no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University ... [but] This exercise will not be used again."

At any rate, it's clear the exercise did indeed uncover the strength of certain cultural sensitivities, even to an irrational extent (I mean, it's not Jesus, it's a piece of paper with "Jesus"). With luck, it would help students feel the strength of their own reaction (or observe it in others in the class), and be able to better empathize with others with different cultures and their sensitivities about their own ridiculous frog-faced idols. [Obviously, as a one size fits all exercise, using Jesus isn't perfect in our multicultural society, but picking the dominant religion is playing the odds.]

Or maybe it was just a silly exercise from a second tier school. You make the call.
Share  |  Flag |


[User Picture Icon]
Date:March 23rd, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
I dunno...revelatory exercises sometimes bug people and they're not in a hurry to test out their own social limitations out there in front of everyone...

But this reminded me of something that was sort of the opposite - Fumi-e from Japan. It strikes me as the opposite because you'd have to nut up to be brave enough to go against society and not step on the things. I don't know that I could. Go against the crowd, that is, never mind invite governmental persecution.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:March 23rd, 2013 05:04 pm (UTC)
This is great. You could totally springboard into discussion about god in the pledge, mandatory or even optional pledge recitations, prayer at public events, etc. There are so many ways they could go with this. Symbols to an individual, symbols in the context of group pressure. All of that.

Journal of No. 118