During these lessons in the playmaker course LVB/B we also worked with different kinds of discussion techniques, such as competition debates about relevant propositions (the principle we show here) to sharpen critical thinking, and class or group discussions to integrate the content into an overall perspective:
‘So, one: policy doesn’t always protect those it says it wants to protect. Two: the protection offer doesn’t cover reality anymore and where there is a small opening being made for economic reasons, this is solely out of self-interest. A third series of problems concerns the “arguments” for the “general interest” with which the firm asylum policy is mostly explained and defended. An example: “We cannot seriously give support or social security to people who weren’t born here and never worked here. Should we do this, our social bank would soon be empty.”
Up till this moment the students sat quietly listening, but when I gave this first argument they spontaneously interrupted the class. Sam was the first one: “But, the refugees and undocumented migrants … they all want to work, don’t they? I mean, that is what each and every one we interview told us no? They want to work legally. And when they could they would surely add to this social bank.” – “Yes. And being born here or not, come one, does that really matter? Isn’t that purely accidental?” Jolien said. “They also say, sir …” Julie added, “they take away our jobs. But why is there a shortage of jobs in their countries? Isn’t that at least partly because of the unequal relation between countries, as we have seen?”
Rather than go back to frontal teaching, I tried other arguments. “Don’t you all think it’s unfair competition when they work illegally and that way steal the jobs of Belgians?” Now it was Rob who got angry because I seemed to resist their general opinion: “Well, why don’t they make black white then, illegal legal?! Then they will be fair competitors and employers won’t be able to exploit them anymore. And I’ll tell you something else, is it their fault there aren’t enough jobs around? Shouldn’t politicians take care of that actually? We know so much money escapes taxation … that could very well be used to create more jobs now couldn’t it?! Well, what do you think about that?”
“Okay Rob, okay. I was just summing up you know. But what about this one: “When we would soften policy or open borders more, we will soon be flooded by refugees.” Here it took ‘m some seconds before someone responded. But it was either Lisa either Jennifer who took it on. “I think it’s logical more would come, yes. But can you please repeat what that was, this aging of our population and such … “ I needed to consult the papers, I didn’t have the numbers at hand. “Ah, here it is, page 9., I’ll read it to you: Because of the aging of our population there will be more non working people than working. The United Population Fund calculated that the fifteen original EU member states need per year 1,5 million immigrants to sustain the non working part of society and to keep population in balance until 2050.” – “Well then …” now Paco intervened, “then many more should come no? Then this argument for the “general interest” should be reversed no? And, on the other hand, is Belgium the only country receiving refugees then? Most refugees don’t even reach the wealthy countries.”’ (JWW, p.275-276)
It was clear that these students had distanced themselves from the most common arguments to defend the present policy, and had good arguments to do so. They definitely took sides with those who lacked human rights.