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Politics Cut from ELT Materials

Hashimoto

Toru Hashimoto

In Japan, the Osaka board of education has cut material from its online course deeming it too political.

The board found the material objectionable and said it promoted the image of the mayor of Osaka to first year Junior High students.

The material was to be used for practicing the third person singular and included statements like these:

My name is Toru Hashimoto. I work hard for people in Osaka.

This needed to be rewritten in the third person:

His name is Toru Hashimoto. He works hard for people in Osaka.

But the only problem is that Toru Hashimoto is real, the mayor of Osaka, and whether he works hard for the people of Osaka is open to debate.

The material has been removed now and Hashimoto claims it was not politically motivated.

Editor’s Comment

Good. Politics like this has no place in ELT. Or rather, not blatent political bias like this.

We always advise our teacher trainees to steer well away from politics but if a teacher does decide to veer into the muddy waters of politics then it has to be done with the utmost caution and the utmost care.

No bias. No affiliations. No persuasion.

Telling a group of kids that the named mayor “works hard for people in Osaka” crosses the line.

Maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t, but it’s not up to an educational resource to plant that seed in the minds of the kids learning English.

Useful Links

Sensitive Subjects‏‎ in Teaching English – what you should avoid teaching: sex, politics, religion

Teaching English in Japan – a look at teaching English in Japan

Japan Times Article – more on this story

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