As the day has moved forward, this incident has worried me more and more. As a social studies teacher, everything is relevant to my curriculum. I talked about the earth quake in Haiti to remind students that building techniques, technology and the relationship of geography and civilization. In fact, I think it is fair to argue that the best way for me to relate the ancient civilizations to my students is to constantly use the world in which they live. After all, the point is to create students that understand why things happen and why society functions the way it does today is linked to societies of the past. Dr. King said it best, "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly".
Further reflection led me to where this comment may have come from; as teachers we are often pressured by the administration, parents, government, etc to have specific goals and benchmarks for everything we teach in our classrooms. Teachers feel compelled to rely on standards and curriculum maps, ignoring anything that happens outside of their classroom door. This is dangerous. Students need time to discuss what is happening in their lives in a setting that is not the dinning room table or the lunchroom with their friends. None of my students had ever heard Dr. King's "I Have a Dream Speech". None of my students had ever heard of Emmett Till.
My point is that as teachers, take a risk!!! Talk about topics that effect your students directly. Go outside of your textbook and course guides to incorporate the real-world in your classroom. Even if it does not go with your curriculum. Life is more important than curriculum.