EDSITEment lesson: In My Other Life poses the question: What would it be like to grow up in another culture? One way to explore this question is through memoirs and novels. Now, with the Internet, you can offer your students an interactive means to venture outside the borders of their own experience to try on an alternative cultural identity.
Over the weekend, I watched a 2007 film with my twin eleven year old daughters entitled, Arranged. It focused on a friendship which forms between two new teachers in a public elementary school in New York City. Both women come from traditonal religious homes - one Muslim, the other Orthodox Jewish. There is a scene in the classroom that these two teachers share where students question the possibility of them having a friendship. They respond by calling together a unity circle in the next class to help students understand how group dynamics work to accept or reject people according to their differences.
What are some other ways to you have found to teach tolerance for cultural difference in your classroom?
I live on an island in the the middle of pacific and on such an island you get a variety of cultures from mainland countries to all the various cultures spread out around the pacific. I have found that dipping into little pieces of every culture in my room in the best way to tolerance. One way I use a daily word from a different language whether its Japanese, Chomorro, Carolinian, etc. In addition, I have students do a research project about thier culture and then compare it to another culture and relate it to different subjects. For example today we are talking about why people settle in certain areas and I will link this to the idea that people on this island tend to settle near roads and/or fresh water sources whereas people in the midwest of the United States tend to settle on rivers for transportation. Cultural differences are a great way to faciliate discussion on almost every topic.
Thank you Tony for sharing your daily word approach -and comparitive research project activities... what a fascinating combination of cultures you host in your classroom! I'd love to hear from other teachers around the country - world on this theme.