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The Influence Of Picture Books To Students
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The picture books appeared to be effective tools to support the students' understanding of the novel and of Igbo culture, and by extension, to help them analyze their own cultural practices in relationship to the cultural practices of others. Women's rights, children's rights, religious practices, and the impact of colonialism all became central topics of discussion, and these discussions enriched the students' understandings of themselves and of others. The picture books facilitated these conversations by offering new images of members of a foreign culture to the students. These new images provided a basis for the students to develop greater empathy for others, which is a precursor to fighting for greater social justice in the world.
The students passionately debated polygamy, spousal abuse, and killing in the name of religion as these issues arose in the novel in a way that my previous students had not. It's likely that these debates were a natural Breitling Replica Watches result of the students' connecting emotionally with the characters in the novel, which at least in part occurred as a result of their recognizing similarities between themselves and the novel's characters. In addition, during these debates the students recognized that the problems they were discussing were not unique to the characters in the book. The students drew many parallels between the human rights issues raised in the novel and similar problems that members of their own cultures face.
After the students finished studying the novel, they asked to continue studying Africa. They embarked on inquiry projects, with each student researching some aspect of Africa that interested them. Topics included the role of music in specific regions of Africa, the impact of traditional African music on Western music, women's rights violations, genocide, wildlife preserves, and political disputes. These projects, in turn, inspired some of the students to engage in social action projects. Some students decided to participate in a benefit concert to raise money for Invisible Children (a nonprofit organization that does humanitarian work in Uganda), some wrote letters to President Bush and to their congressional representatives demanding greater US support for humanitarian efforts in Africa, and some worked to educate their friends, family, and classmates about human rights issues affecting people in Africa today. Through the course of this unit, the students had come to understand Africa as a diverse continent, affected by complex religious, social, and economic forces. Although the particulars of these forces highlighted important differences between the students' lives and the lives of those they studied, the general dynamics involved in the interplay between these forces and the real lives of people were something the students could relate to their own lives and thus come to care about.
My students, in general, had not conceived of themselves as activists before this unit, but their understandings of themselves and of others had been transformed. During this unit, they began to envision a world that they had not known existed, and they began to imagine themselves living within it. They empathized with characters whose lives are, in many ways, different from their own and in doing Breitling Bentley Replica Watches so they formed a human connection with people from a foreign culture that they had never visited. Allowing room for these kinds of transformations to occur should be one of the central goals of an English classroom, for they speak to the larger purpose of educationâ€” helping students learn to navigate a complex world in meaningful ways,
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