7th and 8th graders on Hunt Middle School’s Solstice Team are learning about culture through Afro-Peruvian rhythms.
by Dov Stucker
teacher at Hunt Middle School
How does this music weave into the curriculum? Students in my classes have been studying the Agricultural Revolution and the development of human societies.To understand this historical shift, students need to comprehend the concept of “culture.”
Since culture is something that we all have–but that we rarely notice unless we’re in a cross-cultural setting–I bring cross-cultural encounters into my classroom. One day in early November began with students free-writing about a time when they experienced another culture. As the writers shared their pieces, a mosaic of diverse experiences filled the room: stories about dinner at neighbor’s house, where there were numerous shrines; the experience of attending a friend’s Bar Mitzvah; a disorienting trip to a Montreal’s Chinatown; riding a CCTA bus filled with multiple languages. Luckily, each one of these Burlington students had a cross-cultural experience to draw from.
I then introduced a framework for understanding culture that my classes would be using for the coming weeks: The Universal Elements of Culture. After a brief overview of these universal elements, we watched a music video from the Afro-Peruvian band, Novalima.
Students weren’t told anything about the culture where the video was shot. They had to use their framework to identify the elements of culture seen in the video. Students were particularly taken with the unique street game shown in the video, as well as the enigmatic shrine. As students continue to learn about the historical rise of the first organized societies, they will have a better grasp of what this thing is that we call “culture.”