Ballad for a Bedouin Girl
Working in the UAE as a teacher trainer, and having responsibility for four classes a week, of high school pupils, I found myself searching for solutions to their reluctance to read and engage with the set text. Bearing in mind the Brazilian adult educator, Paolo Freire’s ideas on dialogical as opposed to the banking concept of education, I decided I would write something that the Bedouin pupils and teachers would find interesting because the themes would speak to their reality. The above photograph is the handout I made and gave out in class. Below is the text of the poem and a comprehension exercise !
Ballad for a Bedouin Girl
Have you heard the story of a Bedouin girl
Who loved reading all kinds of history?
Let me tell you its true
She was a student in Sharjah
Studying hard, to go as far as the stars
She was clever, brave and beautiful
And she walked with her head held high
And a confident stride
This Emirati girl didn’t like the arrogance of
Her white Australian teacher
Who treated local students
Like they were strange creatures, dimwits she thought,
Inferior to her and her kind!
Envy and greed distorted the
White Australian teacher’s mind
And in class, out popped her words of scorn and derision
‘Huh!’ Snorted this
White woman teacher,
With a disdainful shake of her head
‘Now you people, have much wealth
But not long ago, you know,
You were just camel riders
Eating black seeds for health…’
Quick as a flash
Our Emirati student said
‘Oh dear! Better to be camel riders
Eating black seeds for health
Than be like your ancestors
Who were criminals and prostitutes
Invading others’ lands and stealing their wealth!
- What did the Bedouin girl enjoy doing?
- Is this poem based on fact or fiction?
- Was this Bedouin girl ambitious or not? How do you know?
- Explain what is meant by ‘she walked with a confident stride’ ?
- What was the attitude of this girl’s White Australian teacher to the Emirati students?
- What kind of feelings distorted and twisted this teacher’s mind?
- Can you think of other words or expressions that are similar to the words ‘scorn’ and ‘derision’?
- How did the white teacher try to make the Emirati students feel inferior?
- Who did the Emirati girl say were ‘criminals and prostitutes?
- In your opinion, should the student be punished by the Principal? Discuss and share your reasons.
PS While I’m happy that Lucy Dan chose to publish this poem, she did not work with me in terms of any level of editing whatsoever. I don’t understand how this stateemt of thanks below appeared as I did not offer write it and wish was not there. This is because too often, people who have played no role in the writing/drafting/editing process, then somehow seek to associate themselves with that work. Lucy Dan says it appeared automtically and she doenst know how to remove it. If anyone can help, please let me or her know. Thanks !