December 17, 2011

Hangman Game: Reconsidered

Hangman is the age old game of guessing a letter, and slowly killing off a cartoon stick figure. Harmless enough, and okay, but not thrilling. But, it’s a great filler when you just have a few minutes and you can use it to review a new vocab word or concept. But I wanted to take it up a notch. So, in Korea I started playing a version I invented after hearing of other variations.

I draw a person holding four balloons, floating above the sea. A shark with an open mouth waits below. Missed letters pop one balloon at a time (I erase the balloon) and modify the person to show a frown, panic, and tears as the stick figure gets nearer to dropping into the shark’s mouth, with each incorrect guess.

I wanted to play this with my Saudi classes. But it occurred to me that maybe there would be some objection to this. So, before class one day I asked the couple of students that were there early if it was okay. I showed them and they said, Yes! Of course, it’s no problem!”

One student said, “Teacher. Why would you think it was a problem?”

Maybe I’m a bit skittish. The previous week I was told during class by the same student, that I’d just done something “haraam” (forbidden). The rule in class is no food or drink (only water.) A different student walked in late, set a can of juice on her desk and opened it. I walked over and without stopping what else was happening, nonchalantly took the can from her desk and set it in the trash can.

The student told me that it was very upsetting to them because it’s haraam to put good food / drink in the trash, like that. The discussion that followed was civil and while others said the fault was the students’, many others agreed that my actions were not okay. Later in class, I suggested that the student who raised the concern and I could meet and come up with a solution suitable to both of us.

So…back to the Hangman game. Good, I thought to myself, so I can play Hangman with them.

Suddenly, I remembered the gruesome public executions carried out routinely in Saudi Arabia and I felt nauseous…

About the Author joangregerson

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