Duisburg: Fairy tales in “Kanakisch” – parents angry at discrimination in school supplies

Discrimination in school material
Duisburg schoolchildren should work on fairy tales in “Kanak”.

Pupils at a school in Duisburg were faced with a discriminatory task. An association of Turkish parents asks publishers to review their school books. However, the responsibility lies elsewhere.

This time the case appeared in a high school in Duisburg. In a text from the Klett-Verlag, schoolchildren are asked to tackle the fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel”, albeit in crude and error-ridden language, which is called “Kanak”. The story then begins like this: “Murat and Aische go through the forest in search of the right firewood”.

Now it is undeniable that typical variants of German are spoken in certain immigrant circles. Linguists call it ethnolect. There are numerous parodies about this way of speaking. There are comedians and rappers who knowingly use this jargon to signal belonging to or distance from traditional society. You may or may not find it funny. Consume shows, lyrics, matching songs or not. Fortunately in a free society it is up to you.

But of course it is another thing when a famous fairy tale is translated into grossly incorrect German in a state institution such as a school and this language, which is perceived as lacking, is attributed to a group of migrants, who are also nicknamed “Kanaken “This term also has its own history, it is on the one hand a dirty word, but it is taken up with confidence by some people and used ironically in a provocative way to describe themselves. All this can be discussed in class and, as explained on request a spokeswoman for the district government, the text was used in Duisburg in the German class for a 9th grade pupil as additional material in the multi-week series of lessons “Thinking about language – language use, language change, language criticism”. . The class itself suggested talking about the Turkish-German ethnolect as well. However, the school authorities disapproved of the use of the text. , was not sufficiently questioned about the possible effects, especially regarding the student body with a high percentage of families with a migratory background. The text is considered unsuitable for use in the classroom and will no longer be used in the future.

Regardless of the inclusion in the Duisburg lectures, the question remains whether parodies are a good choice for lectures, especially if they mock minorities in a general and derogatory way. And what justification does it have for official schools to call an ethnic “Kanak”. In any case, there were students outraged by the assignment. At least this is what Solingen lawyer Fatih Zingal reports, who has made the case known through its digital channels. Just like the philosophy class assignment at a high school in Siegburg a few weeks ago. At that time, the Federation of Turkish Parents’ Associations in North Rhine-Westphalia wrote an open letter to the Ministry of Education in North Rhine-Westphalia and asked for a statement. There has been in the meantime. The ministry distanced itself from the Siegburg task and stressed that a prerequisite for the approval of textbooks is non-discrimination.

However, the fact that the next case caused irritation in a short time shows that there appears to be “legacy” in many school materials. It also shows that textbook texts are well suited to provoking indignation in larger circles. Especially if the irritations are not discussed immediately in class. Because of course this is also a way to deal with questionable models. After the report on the case in Siegburg, a teacher reported the same lessons as her. The juxtaposition of two photos in a geography book had aroused resentment in her class. One showed people from a so-called developing country in front of a poor straw hut, the other a Western family with all their abundance. Such representations are also based on facts, consumer behavior in industrialized countries is different than in countries with low gross national product. But above all, such images convey stereotypes and one-sided worldviews. And it is not about hypersensitivity when such depictions offend in a society that is becoming increasingly aware of its diversity. In any case, the teacher she reported in the geography book immediately caught the alienation of one of her students and confronted her in class. It also works like this. In a pinch.

After the recent Duisburg case, the Federation of Turkish Parents’ Associations in North Rhine-Westphalia (Fötev NRW) is calling on school book publishers to critically examine older works as well and review discriminatory content. “However, we also expect teachers to use classroom texts and assignments only if they do not insult, humiliate or even discriminate against groups inside and outside their student body, or if stereotypes and prejudices are not needed,” says Aysun Aydemir. , president of Fötev NRW. “We know that many teachers are now very sensitive to the issues of equal opportunities and discriminatory language, but recent negative cases show that there are other examples, so it should probably be in teacher training and higher education too to focus more on these issues. . “

When asked, the NRW Ministry of Education stressed that teacher education is a matter for universities and that the government has no influence. However, teachers should meet the requirements of the Teacher Education Act for their exam and, among other things, demonstrate ability to address cultural diversity. The contested teaching material in Duisburg was taken from the Internet. Teachers alone are responsible for such additional materials. In any case, the Duisburg teacher regrets the irritation and would readily have a clarifying conversation with her students.

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