Last week, Brussels authorities requested that primary and secondary schools work on projects emphasising freedom of speech and which look at the attack at the Paris headquarters of the satirical weekly “Charlie Hebdo”, revealed Faouzia Hariche (Brussels Alderwoman for Public Education, Youth and Early Childhood) on Wednesday. At the Dachsbeck high school in Rue de la Paille, a social studies class at 11:30am used cartoons from “Charlie Hebdo” to look at the topic of social identity. The teacher also underlined the difference between sacred and secular matters, and told students that sacred issues are not necessarily religious. Amongst other things, the lesson revealed that when one element of a person’s social identity is challenged, that person should not feel challenged as a consequence.
At the same time, the school’s Latin and Greek language teacher and its biology teacher organised a debate which addressed topics such as the Trial of Galileo and protests within the Church regarding heliocentrism, as well as comical Athenian theatre in Ancient Greece and how it was used to voice sharp criticism of local politicians.
In another initiative, pupils at Jacqmain high school on rue Beliard, were told to wear black to school on Friday, to observe a minute’s silence before sharing their thoughts on the subject.
“Some students think mocking the prophet, amongst others, is taboo,” notes Alderwoman Hariche. “These projects make them think and push their own boundaries. (…) A school is a miniature society, and we could not miss out on the educational value of an event such as this one.”