Dream On

… ist der Titel eines phantastischen Aufsatzes meiner LK-Schülerin Elisabeth Weber zum Thema „Modern forms of slavery“ (Bayerisches LK-Abitur 2006 Aufgabe II, Composition Topic 1).

Dream On

Two score and five years ago, a great American, whose memory we celebrate every year, delivered one of the most incisive and famous speeches of all times. It was a cry for freedom, a plea for justice, and a yearning for a better future. When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about the need to end discrimination for his people, he could not fathom that forty-five years later thousands all over the world are still being oppressed and exploited, actually living in slavery.

Especially women and children have to suffer. Every day, young women are carried off and sold as prostitutes. They are being humiliated while forced to sacrifice their bodies in order to survive. For them, with no help from outside, it’s almost impossible to break free and start anew. Although this happens mostly in Thailand, the so-called “sex tourism” is a very lucrative business in Eastern Europe as well.

In India, the country with one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, the economy is mainly based on cheap child labor. Children, who need these jobs to make a living for their families have to work many hours a day for almost nothing. What makes it even worse is that the “carpet slaves”, as they are called, work for Western Companies which want to produce T-Shirts, sweaters etc. as cheaply as possible. It is us, the greedy consumers in Europe and the US that keep those Indian children enslaved.

In Africa, the country where the slaves to America and Europe came from, there is an even more cruel kind of oppression. Human trafficking rips families apart and takes away human rights. Be it bonded labor or prostitution, once in shackles it is only a little percentage that will be able lead a life in liberty one day. And because of all the armed conflicts between all sorts of different groups, it is common practice that children have to fight with adults. But even if a child survives, the traumatic aftereffects are devastating and ruin its whole life.

The dream Martin Luther King Jr. had for the blacks in America is similar to abolishing modern slavery all over the world nowadays. It is still being dreamed today. Dream on, people. There are organisations against human trafficking, there are business policies against child labor, there are therapists who help former child soldiers. But that is not enough, we have to do more, we can’t just dream on.

Je nach Leistungsvermögen der Schüler kann man verschiedene Aufgaben zu diesem Aufsatz stellen.

Bist du Schüler? Dann überleg dir bei jeder der folgenden Fragen, was DU schreiben würdest.

Fragen zur Einleitung:

Schwer, weil sehr vage: Analyse how the writer introduces her topic.

Etwas leichter: Analyse how the writer puts her topic into a historical perspective.

Noch leichter: Study the beginnings of A. Lincoln’s „Gettysburg Address“ and M.L. King’s famous speech „I Have a Dream“ and relate them to the very first sentence. What effect does the writer achieve?

Fragen zum ‚final paragraph‘:

How does the writer achieve coherence and closure?

Analyse the writer’s use of language.

Oder leichter: Show that the writer imitates M.L. King’s style.

Comment on the writer’s use of ‚dream‘.

Oder einfacher: Explain why the writer plays with the different meanings of ‚dream‘.

Relate the final paragraph to Langston Hughes‘ famous poem „Dreams„.

Nachdem wir den Aufsatz im Kurs besprochen hatten, entwickelte sich eine lebhafte Debatte darüber, ob dieser Aufsatz nicht zu emotional sei. Eine Schülerin erinnerte mich daran, dass es in meinem Handout „Composition“ heißt:

In a normal composition you are supposed to write an argumentative and rational text, not an emotional one with a lot of rhetorical questions and exclamation marks.

Hmm, dieser Einwand „made the teacher think“ *  😉 Für welche Situationen sollen Schüler eigentlich Aufsätze schreiben? Die ‚detached neutrality‘ des Abwägens („weigh the pros and cons“) hat zweifelsohne ihre Berechtigung. Aber das leidenschaftliche Vertreten eines Standpunktes hat doch genauso seine Berechtigung, gerade wenn es um Themen wie Klimawandel, Armut und Menschenrechte geht. Ich möchte, dass meine Schüler später ihre Meinung auf englisch in Kommentaren in Blogs, Foren, Mailinglisten, Google Groups, bei Amazon und so weiter artikulieren und begründen können. Als Konsequenz habe ich o.a. Passage aus meinem Handout Composition (doc) gelöscht.

* „It makes the reader think“ ist die Standardantwort von Schülern, wenn nach der Funktion von Stilmitteln gefragt ist und sie nichts Konkretes sagen können.

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