After we finished our study on communities, our class branched out to look at culture. This is when we were really able to look at our transdisciplinary theme:
Who we are is influenced by our cultural heritage
I thought communities were fun! This turned out even better!
To begin, we had to answer a necessary question:
What is culture?
When I asked my students this question, the little anthropologist inside of me let out a loud, enthusiastic “YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!” I was so excited about all the things they were able to brainstorm about their culture after I gave examples from mine. My students really surprised me with being able to tell their own way of living apart from others. They mentioned some things that have caused small cases of culture shock for people who travel here such as
- Water is served hot. Like boiling hot.
- There is a lot of fat on all the meat served in dishes
But it was interesting to see that some of the easiest things we identify as Chinese or Asian, they didn’t seem to think of. These were things that were so “normal” to them that it didn’t seem worthy to mention. For example, chopsticks were one of the LAST things we added to our idea web. But, once they realized that “counted” as their culture too, they started listing off lots of interesting things.
This part of our unit was mostly discussion. Every day we talked about a different aspect of Asian cultures such as food, clothing, and music. These discussions have some of my favorite moments in class so far because it allowed me to learn a lot of things about China that I wouldn’t have learned without specifically asking. I learned that on birthdays, it is a tradition that you eat noodles. This is to represent having a long life. I also learned that if you see a dragonfly, it will rain.
Ok. That last one I learned because it was raining all week and one of my students said offhandedly, “Yes. I saw a dragonfly yesterday. That’s why. While they educated me, I asked them so many questions they were talking over each other to explain it to me. They definitely taught me more during this part of the unit than I taught them.
And isn’t that how we learn the best?