Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Rat Race, The New Academic Year, and a Man and his Words Worth Remembering

As August slips into September, many ELT teachers will be either returning to work or beginning to negotiate their timetables (or maybe looking for their first job).  This is probably for many, including fair-minded Directors of Studies, the most odious and difficult time of the year. With a likely drop in student numbers in private academies around the world, this September will be particularly difficult. Of course, many schools will be keen to retain  whatever experienced teachers are still around (low pay obviously drives experienced teachers away) and will probably offer any remaining teachers the pick of the timetable. Few schools will have clear criterion onhow to distribute hours other than to honour existing contract staff with similar hours where possible. Many teachers who have taught in the same school for some years will feel disappointed with their timetables and unable to see the transparency behind the decision making. Some teachers will accept job offers, well aware that if another better offer comes along, they will abandon the first offer with little or no notice. In short, the industry shows itself to be particularly unpleasant at this time of year.

We should not leave August, therefore, without paying tribute the great Scottish orator and activist, Jimmy Reid, who died, aged 75, this month. In 1970, Jimmy Reid famously led a wonderful campaign to save the Upper Clyde shipyards and prevent six thousand redundancies. Rather imaginatively they organised a “work-in” rather than go on strike (not that we are against striking mind you) and attracted support from around the world. They forced the government to back down and extra monies were found to keep the shipyards working. Of course, ten years later the Conservative party were to make mass-unemployment a constant part of British life and whatever small advances  were made to rid the scourge of unemployment and its terrible consequences from the UK are now quickly evaporating under the current crises. There is a similar tale across the advanced industrialised countries.

In 1971, Jimmy Reid was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow, where, by way of acceptance of his new role, he made one of the greatest speeches of all time. You can read the whole speech here. However, for September and the new academic year, we have chosen these particular lines on the term “rat race” which he referred to in that great speech:

Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?

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RSA animate III: Daniel Pink and “from each according to their ability……..”

As a continuation of our RSA animate series we include this interesting piece by the former Al Gore speech writer, Daniel Pink . Below Pink discusses the limits of monetary reward and new ways to conceptualise drive and motivation. After all, there must be some reason why we teachers continue in this dreadfully low-paid industry; not only continue in it but spend extra unpaid hours reading and blogging about the damn thing. Importantly, he does not dismiss the factor of money in performance at work, rather he says, “once money is taken off the table”. So, no matter how interesting Pink’s ideas are, we are even more interested in this concept of “taking money off the table”. Call us cynical if you want but we suspect that Gore and Pink would be happy to see us working for less and less money and their pockets getting fatter, they certainly aren’t interested in the second part of the above qoutation, “to each according to their need”. Enjoy anyhow.

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Locked out by the TEFL Industry, Disability Rights Now!

In September 2006, Anne Margaret Smith, produced a stunning piece of research which formed the major part of her doctoral thesis.  It should have changed TEFL as we know it, but it didn’t.  Here is the abstract in full:

This study synthesises the literature from three fields of education (English language teaching (ELT), education and training for new teachers, and education for disabled learners) to develop an understanding of how new English language teachers are prepared for their responsibilities in an inclusive classroom, and to recommend changes to the present system that would further promote inclusiveness in ELT .A broad survey of ELT professionals in the UK was carried out to examine how initial training and professional development matched teachers’ requirements as they progressed through their careers. The branch of ELT known as EFL (English as a Foreign Language) is generally perceived by its practitioners to be student-centred and strongly inclusive in ethos, and so their experiences of and attitudes towards learners with disabilities and learning differences were also explored to determine what factors might affect the teachers’ ability or willingness to include learners who had additional support needs. This survey was supplemented by in-depth interviews with teacher trainers and course designers.

The findings suggest that EFL teacher training does go some way towards fostering inclusive beliefs and practices, but that because of the lack of an explicit focus on disability issues, many teachers feel under-prepared and lack confidence when asked to work with disabled learners. In the new climate of governmental control of ELT in the UK, new initial qualifications are being developed to comply with state-sector regulations. This thesis recommends that the opportunity is taken to fuse the inclusive features of the intensive TEFL courses with the broader PGCE courses, to offer ELT professionals the chance to gain a qualification that not only allows them to work in both the private and the state sector but also prepares them thoroughly for working in the inclusive language classroom.

 

Smith’s work was indeed ambitious and broad. She traces the complex histories of English language teaching and looks at historical trends of inclusive education in the UK. She also sent out questionnaires to over 51 accredited institutions in the UK and carried out in depth interviews with teacher trainers and other “standards personnel” from other key institutions and agencies to test her various hypotheses. What was clear was how unprepared staff were generally (for example business English teachers were not taught for this speciality, EAP teachers neither, and most teacher trainers had no extensive training in how to prepare new teachers), so it was little surprise, especially in the private sector, that teachers had had no training in issues related to disability in the classroom.  What was also marked were clear difference in responses to the questionnaire between State ESOL practitioners and TEFL practitioners working in private schools. See pdf below:

smith

 

We would argue that the response to question d is a damning indictment of both sectors but reflects particularly badly on the TEFL industry. On a more positive note, Smith argues that attitudes are often related to experience and support networks. For example, those more experienced teachers (though this doesn’t account for wide differences between state and private sectors) have more positive attitudes to incorporating the needs of disabled students in their classroom and:

Those teachers who had actual experience of working with disabled learners exhibited generally more positive attitudes (at least in respect of the specific types of disability of which they had experience) than those who had no experience. They were more likely to agree that working with a diverse group of people made teaching rewarding, and were more likely to estimate greater degrees of participation in class for students with given disabilities.

Reminding us of the old Marxist principle that being determines consciousness.

Smith’s work is, in short, a masterpiece. It reflects the author’s wide experience and training in education and her commitment to a genuine inclusive classroom. This is not to say it is without fault, if we were not to critically engage with her research then we would be doing it and her a huge disservice, and we will indeed go on to criticise what we see are the limitations of her approach. For the moment, however, we will take Smith on her own terms and look at the impact (or complete lack of impact) of her work.

 

Calling time on “legacy qualifications”

Now last year, the blogger,26 Letters, wrote an informative guest piece over at Tefltastic about the differences/similarities between EFL and ESOL. An excellent discussion ensued concerning how politicised ESOL was compared to EFL and the relative merits of teaching in each sector. Smith anticipates this with her clear summary:

Since the surface differences have become less distinct, more deep-seated characteristics must be identified to account for the antipathy between EFL and ESOL professionals. It is difficult to avoid over-generalising, but broadly, the tone of the professional press catering for those practitioners who identify themselves as belonging to an ESOL tradition gives the impression that they feel they have the moral high ground, and points to their tradition of promoting social justice and working with some of the most vulnerable members of society. The pressures on them to attain government targets each year, however, must lead some to wonder if their private sector colleagues are not better off, in terms of retaining autonomy and educational integrity.

Moreover, in our own piece “60%: The Statistic that Shames IATEFL”, a discussion ensued about how unsatisfactory EFL qualifications were viewed by the state sector.  Smith’s paper helps put these discussions into stark context. Firstly, Smith’s research confirms that the four week course is clearly inadequate for dealing with issues of disability within the classroom (as it is, in our opinion, generally for preparing students for the multitude of diverse contexts they will face). Smith claims that such qualifications are seen as “legacy qualifications” as they reflect a different period and context (i.e. preparing new teachers as quickly as possible for a rapidly expanding ELT market abroad)

Secondly, the fact that contested political space (and issues of accountability) are often hollowed out in the world of EFL with “apolitical” references to inclusivity and diversity, does not mean that a flow of uncontested and unaccountable market led politics does not fill that void. For example, we will hear that the four week course is merely a preparatory certificate, it is best to leave such issues for the student and school to develop in response to the local context, meaning an individualised and market led “solution”. What we know, however, is that, in the public sphere, disabled rights (though still horribly neglected) are taken more seriously than in the private sector. For example, this is what the British public service union Unison could claim way back in 2005:

The role of the public sector in promoting barrier free work should be viewed as the role model for all employers. Trade union organisation has resulted in proper pay structures, fairness in recruitment and selection procedures as well as training and career prospects too scarcely found in the private sector. The Office of National Statistics has published the latest trends in the employment of disabled people in the public sector in Great Britain. The rate of public sector employment growth for disabled people was four times the growth rate for their non-disabled counterparts. The bulk of the job gains were in education and health, and the growth in employment of disabled people in both areas outstripped that of non-disabled people.

 

This is a clear example of a contested space, which is not so hollowed out by the “neutral” politics of profit making. Like 26 Letters, we despise the authoritarian managerial culture within state education (many recruits to EFL are “refugees” from this excessive target orientated/overly prescribed teaching context), but we also have to fight against the hollowing out of this political space by private organisations.  The four week training course is not just an issue for the TEFL industry itself, it is also an issue for the millions of students who are cheated by the industry and the thousands and thousands of workers whose salaries and conditions are kept low by this never-ending pool of cheap labour. (This is not an attack on the new recruits themselves but a call for better training and on-the-job support which will give them a better chance of a rewarding career as the years progress.)

IATEFL

Smith’s challenge was taken up in some part by the IATEFL conference in 2009. Dr Catherine Walters (drawing explicitly on Smith’s challenge) identifies better teacher training, greater visibility of disability people and issues in course books, changes to the accreditation scheme, a greater pro-active role from the British Council and a change in examinations (to reflect awareness of disability issues) as the way forward.  Unfortunately, she lacks the boldness of Smith to challenge the TEFL four week training course and she is sufficiently vague so as not to offend the people (the very people who put profit before the needs of disabled teachers and students) who so kindly sponsor the conference and pay for her “expenses”.

In short, if IATEFL can do nothing about low pay in the industry, if it cannot give teachers a say in the British Council run accreditation scheme, if it cannot force English UK to accept “whistle blowing”  from staff in its complaints procedure, then what chance has it got of making any progress  for disabled teachers and students? As we recently reported, Catherine Campbell, was sacked by Berlitz Japan for taking too long to recover from breast cancer (the company failing to enlist her in its health care policy in the first place). Now Catherine is no cost to Berlitz and she has considerable experience teaching in Japan. Her case is a clear illustration of conditions on the ground in TEFL. If IATEFL cannot challenge these practices (and show no interest in doing so)  then how can it defend the interests of other less powerful individuals and groups? When Dr Walters says we need to put pressure on the examining boards, what exactly is this pressure and why has it not be brought to bear before?

The wider debate.

As said before, we also have criticisms of Smith’s approach. Her use of the term “inclusive” draws on a technocratic and apolitical language employed by government bodies charged with tackling exclusion and promoting diversity and inclusion. Their work is based on the conservative theories of Niklas Luhmann. If we follow, Smith’s logic then all is reducible to government policies but we have no political economy of those decisions. She quite rightly recognises that New Labour’s obsession with league tables undermined the Warnock Report and steps to integrate disabled people into mainstream education. Yet this is seen as a “mistake”. What she does not see is that new Labour are carrying out a much older tradition of generating social problems by market led principles and seeking to colonise and shape people’s lives by intervening in the very problems society and their policies create. Society grows increasingly unequal but the government claim they are doing things for the most disadvantaged. We would ask how can governments who have institutionalised mass unemployment claim to be interested in the plight of the long term unemployed or unemployed disabled workers while the effects of their policies have enriched the wealthy at the expense of the population at large and disadvantaged groups in particular? In a competitive job market, where only graduates have a chance of reasonably well remunerated jobs, it is necessary to have a competitive education sector, where schools demonstrate their ability to produce better and better qualifications. This does not increase the volume of jobs, however, (other than reduce the number of applicants because they are busy studying and not available for work) but merely gives an ideological cover (lack of qualifications) for mass unemployment.

We say this because we believe she also overplays the inclusive classroom. For us an inclusive classroom which celebrates difference would be one not choked by form-filling, intrusive textbooks, government targets, unhelpful and inappropriate exams etc. Most EFL and ESOL classrooms look and feel the same, they are over-prescribed places of social discipline designed to perpetuate power structures, not to enable the flowering of autonomous action and collective decision making. Whilst teachers and students do indeed contest this space to make it more personalized and diverse, there is no mistaking the pressures (“we have to finish unit 8 this week”) we are under. Moreover, whilst a FCE (First Certificate in English) paper that is designed to cater for the diverse needs of students would be an improvement, the abolition of this rotten exam would be an even greater improvement. We are indeed, with the language of inclusion being asked to include everybody in an unequal society, and therefore, the language of inclusion is contradictory, it is always, “included to a point”.

The rights of disabled people to a social architecture that does not discriminate against them, the design of equipment and buildings to enable them to live fully, and the opportunity to participate fully in decision making and not be ruled over by a self-elected technocracy are indeed basic rights. Yet when we look at these things, they are also rights which able bodied people do not have. When streets are widened and re-designed for wheel chairs, cyclists and people with small children benefit too, as do we all when there are investments in public transport, when workplaces show greater flexibility to the needs of disabled workers they generally also show greater flexibility to parents and to carers. The language of “social inclusion” therefore is quite patronising because, as a society, we all desperately require the transformation required to provide disabled people with independent and fulfilling lives. This is not to dismiss the extreme discrimination disabled people face, and how relatively advantaged able bodied people are, or to recognise the need for concrete actions now, but to say that social justice is a common platform, and in fighting for disabled rights we are, indeed, fighting for everybody’s rights.

This said, Smith’s work is a powerful statement of what is wrong with ELT. But as Marx might have said, “researchers have only interpreted the world the point is to change it”.

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RSA Animate II: Slavoj Žižek’s “First as Tragedy, Then as Farce”

As in our previous posts we had publicised a marvellous booklet funded by the “philanthropist” George Soros and then questioned the whole idea of charity in ta subsequent post, it would only be appropriate to introduce the latest in our personalised RSA animate series, this fabulous talk by the remarkable Lacanian Marxist, Slavoj Žižek:

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This is bibles full of libel, this is sin an eternal hymn

Wow!! As if Alex Case had not done enough with hosting the fantastic article and discussion on recruitment of Sri Lankan teachers to teach English in South Korea, now he has single-handedly opened up another can of worms in the very same discussion by linking to issues of Christian missionaries and ELT (first raised by Lindsay Clanfield’s blog, Six Things). Of course we would prefer not to be a simple off-shoot of everything Alex and his contributors do and say over at TEFLtastic , but such is the fertile nature of those discussions (sincere congratulations go to Alex and his contributors for this being so), we feel obliged to comment.

Firstly, in his contribution Jason Renshaw seems to be suggesting that a new piece of workplace legislation be added to existing Racial and Sexual Harassment, namely Spiritual Harassment. He details the case of a teacher who used their classes as a platform to preach religion and even pestered one student (the similarities with sexual harassment are incredible) with promises to buy him a bicycle if he “went to church with her”.

Secondly, Teflista links to an article (which is depressing reading indeed) showing Mormon missionaries busy at work in South Korea, using free English classes to “convert the natives” to the “true religion”.

Now the first thing we want to point out is that whilst, as Marxists, we generally despise religion (we are against investing immaterial or material objects with a power they clearly do not have), we also defend the rights of people to hold and practise religious beliefs, and, this being crucially important, we also, like many religions, believe in an ethical “redemption” of human values in a world which is somewhat devoid of such qualities. Whilst most people know a small part of Marx’s famous quotation on religion, “opium of the people” the vast majority of people do not know or have neglected the full context. Here is the quotation in full (emphasis in bold):

Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man—state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

We say all this, because, though we recoil in horror at the way religious organisations “trap their victims”, the homeless, the dying, the sick, the poor, with their charity, we should not forget that these are people in need (needs which others neglect)and that these religious people feel obliged, by their beliefs, to help them.  Would those of us, whose eyes pop out at the stories of Christian missionaries working in South Korea, also call for all religious hospices to be closed or for the Salvation Army to be driven off the streets? Moreover, in what ways are secular charities better than religious inspired charities, as Richard Sennett points out:

The philosopher Hannah Arendt once proclaimed that “compassion breeds inequality”. Middle-class women in 19th-century Britain and America who visited the poor undoubtedly felt sympathy for those condemned to the slums, but their visits often aroused resentment. “Helping those who cannot help themselves” continues to carry an undertow of condescension: the needy have nothing to give back. Thus the anthropologist Mary Douglas observes about traditional Christian charity: “Compassion wounds.”

In what ways do secular charitable values merely mimic the worst excesses of Christian missionary zeal? We need merely pause for thought about the role of the Peace Corps, or the truly loathsome Global Vision organisation to see such similarities, both positive and negative, emerge. So as Marxists, we try not to judge the missionaries too quickly, because before helping others we must first create the other to help and whilst we tolerate the system that creates the unequal other, our actions in “helping the other” will always remain ethically questionable. Moreover, whilst TEFL teachers continue to perpetuate educational inequalities in South Korea, how can we be so morally superior to Mormons who give free lessons to the poor? Maybe, we should not be so quick to misjudge “the good intentions” of others until we have critically examined our own conscience (of course, if you agree with this statement then you yourselves are “slaves” to the Christian edict, “let he have no sin cast the first stone”)

Furthermore, whilst we share Jason’s hatred of the classroom preacher, how easy is it to dissociate religious belief from teaching? Consider for example how the great secular teaching tradition continues to impose the Christian calendar on its students as if this were in someway neutral, as if the very notion of a secular education wasn’t indeed premised in the Enlightenment, itself a product of Judean-Christian thought, and that our values as teachers (as evidenced above) are not shaped by our own spiritual values. Similarly, as Marxists we have to recognise that Marx himself came from a great line of radical Rabbis (it is not something we take shame in but great pride in, putting human values back on their feet).

We must remain critical of religions and in particular how they encode and justify unequal power relations; especially with regards to the role of women in society. Yet, we should not just construct religion as the other to secular education, as if there is a neutral position empty of human values. As Marxists we gamble, on the critical rationalism of humankind, the ability to critically reflect on our conditions of being and thinking, in order to construct better ways of relating to each other. This means that we are as opposed to the preaching of Marxism in the classroom as we are opposed to the preaching of Christianity, as neither encourage rational critical thought. But we are not opposed to the implicit teaching of Marxism (critical pedagogy/ learning as self-directed transformation of self) rather we are opposed to the implicit teaching of neo-liberalism (English as gateway to success, English as a neutral world language, English as superior liberal/secular values).

Some soul searching questions, indeed.

Footnotes:

For those of a more militant atheist persuasion, we would also like to recommend this wonderful and pertinent militant atheist ELT blog, A small flaking white huse in lost Spain, and to remind you of this 1970’s classic by a man called Johnny Rotten.

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Finally, we get to laugh at the politics of raunch culture!

For those of us who grew up through the feminist  and gay/lesbian rights struggles of the seventies and eighties, for those of us who organised into mens’ groups to critically explore issues of sexuality, the whole explosion (forgive the Freudian metaphor) of raunch culture has been deeply troubling. It’s not bad to be troubled, we learnt that a long time ago, but to what extent can we sit idly by and not criticise (for fear of being boorish and prudish) the adoption of male-centred pornographic iconography as a form of “female empowerment”.

You see, the whole new lads culture was an interesting marketing ploy which sought to capture a new confident mood amongst heterosexual men to redefine themselves. Although it is often been charged with being pre-feminist, it is indeed an attempt to recast “traditional” models, cars, drinking, looking at pictures of topless women  (so-called pre-feminism) with a concern over image, hedonism (irresponsibility/childishness) and, most of all, consumerism. Being a “little sexist” was part of naughty charm of this new consumer movement. We cannot understand today’s metrosexuality without this nor should we dismiss the effects of gay culture on this mainstream “heterosexual culture”. Of course, while all this was going on (or maybe in reaction to it) we had “Girl Power”, epitomised by the truly dreadful Spice Girls. Girl Power was apparently about being confident and sure of your own sexuality.

Now all this happened in a period of massive retreat for the left and organised working class. A much narrower identity politics replaced socialism and the broader feminist and gay/lesbian movement. As the credit card and new aggressive anti-labour practices “solved” the problem of stagnating capital, groups began to see themselves as isolated and increasingly organised themselves around a narrower agenda of cultural politics. If an openly gay man can become a member of parliament,   if gay and lesbians can marry, if women can dress and behave raunchily without being called “a whore”, if a black man can become president of the US, then we have progressed. Now, here at MTG we wouldn’t argue against any of those “progressive moments” but we would argue that they only scratch the surface of oppression and inequality, leaving the main structures of power and inequality in tact. And what is worse, people become de-politicised believing that this is all that is possible given market/”dominant political order“ constraints.

In reply to this we have witnessed the rise of a new wave of feminism”, these feminists have taken on the dominant consumerist construction of “female empowerment” and pointed out that gender inequality still persists and raunch culture is nothing positive. Now we would agree with Nina Power, that we cannot go backwards and reverse history, what is happening is happening.  Our job is not to moralize and blame but to go forward with a new libratory politics that has learned from recent events.

For example, there is much to be said about the positive effects of the “Madonna phenomena” on mainstream society. In a way she has truly raised what Judith Butler termed “Queer theory” to a wider public dimension. This does not mean we cannot be critical of Madonna’s politics or that we have to give the benefit of the doubt to crass popsters like Kate Perry or pale imitations like Lady Gaga. It does mean that what went before was no golden age of equality and ethics, the reaction against it was not merely a marketing ploy but borne of a real frustration over the construction of women’s sexuality.

And now the edifice of neo-liberalism is shaking and what went before is held up for quite obvious criticism, we can laugh at how stupid and infantile most of it was (compare this wonderful original of Raining Men by the Weather Girls with this unspeakably pathetic “raunch” remake by Gerri Halliwell). This wonderful pastiche of Kate Perry’s dreadful, “I kissed a girl” song says it all:

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The Nadja Benaissa story, HIV-positive status, and the need to hold our lines against sensationalism and backlash.

Nadja Benaissa, a German pop star who is HIV positive,  has just gone on trial in Germany for causing grevious bodily harm to an ex partner for having unprotected sex with him. The former lover is now HIV positive and claims it was Ms Benaissa who infected him. She is also facing charges of attempted bodily harm for allegedly having sex with two other men, who are not infected with the virus but claim she put them at risk (Oh straight men and unprotected sex, don’t they just love it). Of course, being a public figure, the media, especially the Gernan media,  have seized on the story in order to boost sales figures. The story first broke in April 2009 when she was arrested  just before giving a planned solo concert and held in custody, thereafter, for ten days. The trial is expected to be over by the end of the month.

Fortunately, there appear no ill-considered free ELT lesson plans concerning the issue out there on the net (none that we could find) but we thought it was an issue that might well surface in classes and was, therefore, in need of urgent context. In the latest BBC report, there had been two previous articles (in April 2009 and February 2000), they finally got round to mentioning:

“Aids campaigners were critical of the authorities’ handling of the arrest and warned against a rush to criminalise the transmission of HIV, the BBC’s Tristana Moore reports from Berlin.”

Remember it was AIDS camapaigners who fought and continue to fight against government neglect and inompetence in attempts to prevent the spread of the illness, so their views on this issue would be very important (further link and less academic here). This is what Tristina Moore reports:

According to prosecutors, Ms Benaissa knew she was HIV-positive as early as 1999.

A former lover, who is HIV-positive, has said the singer infected him in 2004 and is due to appear in court in Darmstadt as a co-claimant.

Last November Ms Benaissa appeared at an Aids charity gala in Berlin and openly declared: “My name is Nadja Benaissa, I’m 27 years old, I have a daughter – and I’m HIV-positive.”

No Angels were formed in 2000 on the international TV show Popstars, before recording a series of hits and emerging as Germany’s most successful girl band.

They re-formed in 2007 and competed in the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing 23rd.

So actually, and this goes for all the media, the case against criminalising people with HIV status is not heard. We strongly recommend teachers read this excellent booklet arguing against criminalisation as such action is both unfair on the people with HIV-positive status and highly counterproductive in the fight to stop the spread of the disease.

There is a reasonably symapathetic interview with Ms Benaissa here (with English translation) which explores some of her own personal context for not “going public” with her HIV-positive status. It is hosted by a blog dedicated to fighting criminalisation, which contains some excellent resources.

As we said, there are no irresposnsible free lesson plans out there that we found but sometimes taking precautions keeps us healthy in body and mind.

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