A high school teacher in Australia created ripples when she assigned her class to plan a terrorist attack using chemical or biological warfare. The Year 10 students at Kalgoorlie-Boulder Community High School in Western Australia were set a task by their environment teacher last week to pretend they were terrorists planning to make a political statement by releasing a chemical or biological agent on "an unsuspecting Australian community."
"Your goal is to kill the MOST innocent civilians to get your message across," she told the students in a written assignment form, The West Australian newspaper reported. Students were told that as terrorists they could choose the best time to attack and decide where to release their weapons and what effects it would have on the human body.
And they were told marks would be allocated on their ability to analyse information they had learnt on terrorism and apply it to real life scenario. Most of the students were "horrified" at the exercise they had been given and refused to hand in their assignments.
As the word spread, Principal of the school Terry Martino intervened to get the assignment withdrawn. "The teacher is relatively inexperienced, made a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to engage the students in an assignment on contemporary conflict," Martino said in comments forwarded to the State Education Department.
The principal said he highly regarded teacher and felt she was not promoting terrorism, but had just made a mistake. "She understood the topic was inappropriate. She is remorseful," the principal said, defending the teacher. The incident created a furore countrywide, but the school declined to identify the teacher, citing her privacy.
The newspaper said that they too were not given the name. But the shackles are up in the State Education Department which has asked the school for a full report. Parents of the students are up in arms against their wards being assigned such violent tasks and a number of them, the paper said, have written protest letters to the Department.
The incident also evoked revulsion worldwide, with bloggers all over Australia, US and UK protesting that students in civilised societies should be taught terrorism and violence. "The world already has too many terrorists and there was no need to make more," said Australian blogger Glenda.An American blogger wrote, "It is real worry that the principal is defending the teacher."