Ted's teaching tips

2nd June 2000 at 01:00
How to use The big picture

What a contrast: a modern Romeo and Juliet, from different religious backgrounds, with high hopes for the future, walking amid the ruins of conflict. It offers possibilities about relationships, strife and marriage: topics that must be treated sensitively.

Romeo and Juliet Who were Romeo and Juliet and why does this picture remind us of them (characters in a Shakespeare play, the son and daughter of warring families, who fell in love)? The Romeo and Juliet story had an unhappy ending, but can love conquer all? What should this couple do: stay in the war zone, or emigrate? What would you do if you became friendly with someone whose family had fallen out with yours, or who came from a country at war with yours? Would you break off your friendship until the quarrel was over?

Disputes Why do families fall out (quarrels over noise, territory; jealousy)? Why do countries go to war (land disputes, religious and political disputes, aggressive leaders, historic reasons)? Do you know of any disputes in which religion was a factor (the Crusades, Henry VIII and the Pope, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia)?

Solutions How can peace be restored between warring factions (negotiation and diplomacy; a third party, such as the United Nations, acting as peace-maker)? Is brute force the only solution sometimes? What about quarrels between neighbours (talking it through sensibly; going to court for a legal verdict; getting a fried to intervene)? Why are some solutions better than others?

Writing (a) Make up a story about the two people in Beirut (find it on the map) in the picture. How did they meet? How did they cope with their families being on opposite sides of the civil war? Did their marriage turn out to be a happy one? (b) Two children you know have fallen out with each other. Describe what you do to get them together again.

Ted's talking points

Should people from different religious, social and interest backgrounds - Christian and Muslim, rich and poor, sports-lover and sports-hater - marry? Or should you find a partner similar to yourself?

For Opposites attract - that is how we get diversity. It would become boring after a few years if people with the same backgrounds and interests lived together. If they marry just because they share the same beliefs, or because they like chess, they might eventually lose interest and find they have nothing more in common. Disagreements don't necessarily end in rows.

Against People are more likely to be attracted to someone from a similar background. Marriage needs a firm base of shared interests and values, not built-in disagreements. If someone who loves outdoor activities has a partner who prefers television they will fall out. Religious differences could be tricky, for what religion should the children be? A common interest fading is no problem. Similar types will find another shared pastime.

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