Two months ago I wrote this post:
It was a post about the issue of illegal immigration and in particular how art and culture can be used to make us consider it in a different way to the mainstream news routes. In the post I wrote the following:
“I feel very confident of the quality of my examples and indeed of my lesson material. Yet somehow, this year perhaps more than in previous years, I don’t quite feel like the message is getting through. When I reflect a little on this situation my conclusion is that perhaps for too many in my current groups the intellectual and emotional step that they must make to reach an appreciation of the plight of illegal immigrants is just too big. They’re aware of the problem, they’ve heard it mentioned in the news, but it’s just not their issue.”
At the time I was reacting possibly to a couple of less responsive lessons, where I was perhaps trying to provoke a reaction from my 15 and 16 year olds. We had all seen the reports of the immigrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in their leaky and over filled boats, and just last week there were a number of trucks stopped at Harwich International Port in the East of England containing sixty-eight people from Afghanistan, China and Vietnam.
To be honest I should know better. In education, a feeling of immediate feedback from pupils is relatively rare, normally you have to wait. You have to wait for the work to be done, the report written or the artwork made. Sometimes you have to wait for years, you find yourself talking to an ex-pupil and they recount a specific detail from a specific lesson as being important to them in some way. It’s great when it happens, but you do have to be patient for such feedback!
My doubts about my immigration module have been largely disproved by the quality of the work that I have been getting in the last weeks. Some of them almost sound thankful for being given the insight! Showing the film The Visitor has certainly helped. It has provided an individual narrative that the news stories fail to have. In particular the poem I asked my Dutch pupils (writing in English,their second language) to produce about the plight of the immigrant was particularly enlightening.