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Who Would You Leave Behind if the World was Ending


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Oct 15, 2018

Who Would You Leave Behind if the World was Ending

Who would you leave behind if the world was about to end? Use age, religion, and other descriptions as markers for your decision.”  This intense and apocalyptic-like question appeared on a middle-school students’ assignment at Robert Middle School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.  In groups, the goal of the assignment was to pick eight out of the twelve people listed (by race, gender, sexuality, age, profession) to “put on a spaceship and take to a different planet because the world was ending.”  Students had to rank individuals on their own and then go into a group to come to an agreed upon conclusion. 

The Fox News article inserts a photo of the worksheet from someone involved with the school.  Options for who to save included “a militant African-American medical student”, “a 33-year-old female Native American manager who does not speak English”, “a homosexual male, professional athlete”, “a 60-year-old Jewish university administrator”, and more. The goal was to promote diversity and question students’ implicit biases about certain individuals based off a number of identifying factors (i.e. race, sexuality, age).  It would also question why their automatic assumptions, stereotypes, and beliefs exist.  The teacher who gave out this assignment has remained unidentified.

After parents of students caught wind of what the assignment entailed, the school received many upset phone calls and meetings.  Some parents said the assignment was “insensitive” while others questioned, “What does her being Muslim have to do with it? What does being female have to do with it” (Bernadette Hartman in regards to certain qualities of individuals on the assignment).  Hartman goes on to say that “This paper divides.  It doesn’t pull anyone together.”  Adam Miller, the man who posted the assignment to social media, wrote a caption to accompany the photo.  Although he appreciated the attempt to promote diversity, he continued on to say, “This is NOT building a – “culture of caring” – this is building a culture of animosity, antagonism & hostility! Why can’t kids be kids? Sad to see this indecent indoctrination forced upon our kids…”

There are definitely multiple ways to view this story with some believing this is a useful and politically correct assignment where middle school students can learn about implicit biases/stereotypes.  Others argue that it is an assignment that divides based off of identity and is inappropriate for students.

What do you think about this assignment?  Does it support diversity or hurt it?  Would you want your kids to complete this assignment in school? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!

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