Monday, August 19, 2013

Culture affects our perception

Image from "God Grew Tired of Us"
This post is devoted to a NC Essential Standard that I've been working on how to address in the classroom:
P.V.2.2: The student "recognizes how personal experience influences the perception of the environment."

Most adults don't completely grasp this, and I've really struggled with coming up with a way to get it across to teenagers. I chose to focus on this standard first because I think it will help them to be more accepting of differences they see in their peers.

After a bit of thought, here's my lesson plan:

Step 1: I will begin by giving them a short background of my personal education: the expectations that my parents, teachers and community had regarding post-secondary education (college was definitely an expectation). We will discuss how my background affects how I teach and what I expect from them. Once they understand this, they can help to explain their unique, individual needs to me.

Step 2: Each table will be given a question to discuss. Each person at the table will share their opinion regarding the question. Then, they will analyze how their opinions have been shaped by their environment.
Here are some sample questions: What is a good age to begin having children? When is it important to be on time? When is it okay to use your phone in public, and when (if ever) is it considered rude?

I teach at a very diverse school and sometimes the kids don't realize how often their actions are culturally driven. Hopefully, these table discussions will explain some reasoning behind beliefs/opinions.

Step 3: Some tables will be called upon to share their discussion with the class.

Step 4: I will show students an excerpt from "God Grew Tired of Us," a documentary about 4 boys who were orphaned in Sudan and came to America in search of safety. They are faced with many obstacles due to vast cultural differences. A portion of the documentary can be seen HERE.

Step 5: We will continue our class discussion, by applying these thoughts to how we critique and interpret art. We'll discuss the following questions:

1. How can we understand and appreciate an artwork made by someone from a completely different culture?

2. Can we determine if an artwork is successful if we know nothing about the artsit that made it or their background?

3. When, if ever, is it important to know the artist's background?

Please share any thoughts or activities that you've tried in your classroom related to this topic!

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