For most of the past ten days, I’ve been following the news from Iran via Twitter and Youtube. Many of the videos from the protests have been frightening and violent, which makes it difficult to discuss the situation with children and students. But I think it’s important for children to be aware of what’s happening in other parts of the world. At minimum, it gives them a greater appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It can also lead to a better understanding of our place in the world and what challenges other people face.
In discussing the situation in Iran, I think it’s best to frame it in terms children understand. One thing children understand is the power of authority. They have to deal with their parents, teachers, principal, babysitters, and older siblings all wielding authority over them. Even on the playground and in the classroom, other children may attempt to exert authority over them (Who hasn’t heard a child shriek, “You’re not the boss of me!”). So how does one gain authority? Is might always right? What happens when people reject authority?
Children have an iron-clad definition of what is fair but they don’t have a strong grasp of how they can respond to situations they don’t find fair. It’s interesting to talk to them about what other people do to assert themselves – even when they don’t have armies and police armor – at their disposal.