On the XO Laptop

The War Against Ignorance

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The events we call “wars” are but some of the battles in the only true war, the universal struggle that is The War Against Ignorance.

Education is key to reducing the duration, frequency, and intensity of these battles.

I made mention of one such battle over a year ago, in the post Thomas Friedman Islam and the Pope, in which I reported on the words of a friend:

Yet I just learned that a nun had been slaughtered in some African country. She had spent several decades living in that country and educating its children.

She was murdered a few days ago, by fanatics who had taken offense at the words of her Pope.

He was talking about Sister Leonella, who was killed in Somalia shortly after the Pope made comments that were considered offensive by some radical Muslims, as reported in The International Herald Tribune, Murdered nun asked forgiveness for killers as she lay dying, colleagues say.

Earlier today I saw the following:

Friday, November 30th 2007,

New York Daily News: In violent protests, Sudanese call for teddy bear teacher’s death

The British teacher jailed in Sudan for letting students name a teddy bear “Muhammad” was whisked to a secret location Friday after armed mobs demanded her execution.

Protesters brandishing clubs and knives streamed out of mosques and rallied outside the presidential palace in the capital, Khartoum.

“No tolerance, execution,” they shouted. “Kill her, kill her by firing squad.”

The teacher, Gillian Gibbons, who is serving a 15-day sentence for insulting Islam, was moved from the women’s prison near Khartoum for her safety.

Amid the disturbing demonstrations, a delegation from Britain left for Khartoum Friday in an effort to secure her early release.

Her son, John Gibbons, told The Associated Press he spoke to his mother by telephone and she is mostly worried her case will inflame tensions.

“One of the things my mum said today was that ‘I don’t want any resentment towards Muslim people,'” he said. “She’s holding up quite well.”

Gibbons, 54, left her job in Liverpool and went to travel and teach in Africa after her marriage collapsed last Christmas.

In her position at Unity High School, she borrowed a technique used in British classrooms: introducing a teddy bear and asking the children to write about it.

When her 7-year-old pupils decided to name the bear Muhammad, a school staffer complained — and Gibbons was arrested Sunday.

Convicted at trial of insulting the religion, she escaped the punishment of 40 lashes, but will be deported when she’s done serving her time.

In summary:

A 54-year-old woman teacher from Great Britain tries to find a new life after her marriage collapses.

In an act of courage and selflessness, she decides to emigrate to Sudan and use her skills to work with young children. She uses a technique she learned back home to encourage writing, by introducing a teddy bear and asking the children to write about it.

The seven-year-old pupils — not the teacher — decided to name the teddy bear Muhammad. This is a common name in the Muslim world, just as Jesus is commonly used in the Catholic countries of South America, for example.

A staffer objects to this. The woman is then tried and convicted. She is sentenced to 40 lashes. That is put aside, but it still supposed to serve time in jail, and then to be deported.

Now, the mullahs have piled on. For example, a Muslim cleric is quoted as saying, “This is an arrogant woman who came to our country, cashing her salary in dollars, teaching our children hatred of our Prophet Muhammad.”

Here are the equations:

Teddy-Bear + Newcomer-to-culture => cultural-slip

cultural-slip => lashing (suggested)

cultural-slip => imprisonment + deportation (legal decision by Sudanese government)

cultural-slip => execution (proposed solution by religious leader)

I have a B.S. in Mathematics, and a Ph.D in Computer Science. I have taken courses in mathemt=atics, computer science, mathematical logic, and so forth.

Yet, I am unable to balance these equations.

Can you?

First published as xo-laptop xo-education: The War Against Ignorance, November 26, 2007]


Written by daveshields

December 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Posted in xo-laptop

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