English Teacher Article Veils and English Support Lessons

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While I think that Jack Straw is wrong over his wishes for veiled Muslim women to remove their veils before speaking to him- it's his job to represent people as they are and not as he would like them to be- I am troubled by the latest issue with a woman being suspended for refusing to remove her veil in English language support classes in a primary school.

In her area, her knowledge of the local community languages may well be an asset, but her not allowing her mouth movements to be visible makes her a less useful teacher in many ways, as a lot can be learnt from watching the mouth movements of the speaker. Furthermore, the educational opportunities of hearing-impaired students would be seriously compromised as they depend more on visual clues than other students, as well as risking exposing the school to other legal challenges. I couldn't care less whether she wears a veil in the corridors and staffroom, but I cannot see how someone who conceals their mouth can teach pronunciation as well as someone who doesn't. I demonstrate pronunciation in class with my face, but she would be dependent on diagrams, which, certainly at primary level, would be less useful. I don't think that a minister should be calling for her to be sacked, which is just pandering to the whims of the more excitable sections of the press, but I do think that we should look at whether covering the mouth is an acceptable part of teaching language. I can't see that a veil would affect her ability to teach chemistry or history to students that are not hearing-impaired, but I do see an issue with pronunciation in the UK, where there are plenty of human resources available that would not choose to mask their pupils' ability to see how the face works when articulating sounds, most of all where a hearing-impared student would be greatly disadvantaged. Religion does not take priority over the rights of students with special needs, nor can it run the risk of reducing students' learning possibilities in a setting where it is not necessary. In a setting where the veil is standard the situation would, in my opinion, be very different, but where there are alternatives, I don't see covering your mouth as a positive in a language class, nor any class where hearing-impaired students are present.

Categories: General

3 Comments

Jack Straw's deaf in one ear- wonder if that affects his idea.

I was very troubled seeing what happened during the last few weeks, and although I do really have a lot to say, I will keep it quite short.
I would like to say that I do thoroughly agree with what Tdol has written, for "Religion does not take priority over the rights of students with special needs, nor can it run the risk of reducing students' learning possibilities in a setting where it is not necessary."
I am a Muslim and I do like my religion and I enjoy being a believer, however, what bothers me most is the way in which many Muslim people abuse or exploit the religion! Nowhere in the Quran can be found that a woman should be covered from head to toe and nowhere, in it, does it say that a woman cannot show her face.
However, I too don't think that "a minister should be calling for her to be sacked, which is just pandering to the whims of the more excitable sections of the press", and even more it is creating troublesome grounds for conflicts in-between the population.
France took this matter a bit too further... we, on the other hand, should look at how to resolve this problem not by forcing or attacking but trough the use of proper communication between the various communities.
The race card is used quite too often and in an erroneous way now-a-days, and while what the ministers said may seem a direct attack on something fundamental for many Muslims, it was not wrong, it was just uttered in a quite wrong way!

For more on hearing impairment read SWAP by Sam Moffie

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