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Thread: Chapter 4 : Learning Multiculturalism/Cultural Awareness Through Fun Reply
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Chapter 4 : Learning Multiculturalism/Cultural Awareness Through Fun Neil Winchel 3/7/10 2:32 PM
Multiculturalism is all about being accepting of people’s differences and educating oneself on cultural similarities. The saying “ What makes us different is what makes us the same” is the key mantra one should express and model , when teaching a formal or informal education session on cultural awareness.
What better way to learn than to learn while having fun. Games and minilessons are the key to any lesson. Kids of any age are more relaxed in an informal lesson and will tend to comprehend and retain more when less anxious. Tricking kids into learning by making it fun is an integral tool to a students learning.
“Multicultural education is a progressive approach for transforming education that addresses current shortcomings, failings, and discriminatory practices in education”. It is grounded in ideals of social justice, education equity, and a dedication to facilitating educational experiences in which all students reach their full potential as learners and as socially aware and active beings, locally, nationally, and globally. Multicultural education acknowledges that schools are essential to laying the foundation for the transformation of society and the elimination of oppression and injustice. “ http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/initial.html
As facilitators, one of our many duties is to model acceptable behaviors and provide informal and formal learning sessions that promote cultural awareness and acceptance. A child learns from what we do and not what we say. Especially in the NYC school system, children are very fortunate that they are able to experience, coexist, and learn together within a vast collection or “ melting pot” of cultures and learning abilities/styles. Integration of students of all abilities and learning styles is imperative to the acceptance of differences. Some can be as follows:
The sharing of holiday celebrations (cultural and historical). Students can learn the principles taught by that culture and see how those principles tie to their own. Another project is one that we have all done in elementary school. The Family Tree project has many benefits. One benefit is to share common stories and beliefs with fellow students. Another benefit is to record your family’s personal history, and to be able to share what you have learned with fellow students, both in written form, and verbal, and maybe audio-visual form.
The greatest example and exercise to teach multiculturalism was taught to me in a graduate level class in my second semester. Students were given numbers and then asked to choose from a list of cultures and nationalities that exist here in the United States.
The list was taken from sources that included the US Census and it was that student’s challenge to find everything about that culture and to share their learning experience with the rest of the class in a user friendly, multifaceted/multimedia lesson.
The topics that included culture, birthrate, religion, cultural foods and recipes, dance, music, mortality rates/ health related issues, wedding customs, family leadership (matrilineal vs. patrilineal), important people and contributions to society were all very intriguing topics to uncover and discover.
However, the most intriguing topics that all students enjoyed were the “food recipes/food samples” and “the games people play” portions of the presentations. I chose to explore the Nigerian American culture and picked up a lot of information on the various religions that co-exist in Nigeria, and also learned because there are so many coexistent cultures and languages, there are many ways to say “hello”.
Music: There are many types of music and music pays a pretty big part in all Nigerian culture. However, what I found most interesting was the“games people play” portion.( See (http://www.motherlandnigeria.com/games.html))
In Nigeria, they call it “ Ayo ”(Yoruba for “game”). In America, you might know it as “Mancala”,
The game includes 48 seeds and the objective is to move around the board and get the most seeds. You can use any round objects as seeds like marbles, beans, or stones. There are usually 2 players.
The game starts by placing 4 seeds in each of the 12 cups on the board, and each player sits with 6 of the cups on their side of the board. The first player for this turn and every turn after chooses a cup, takes all the seeds in that cup, and goes around the board in a counterclockwise direction, planting one seed in each cup as they go.
If your last seed lands in your opponent's cup, you can capture all the seeds in that cup, and add it to your bank.
The game continues until one player can not move, at which point, the one with the most seeds wins.
One variation that I use when playing mancala is rather than stopping when you finish the current cup, you may pick up all the seeds in it, and continue to drop one in each consecutive cup, and continue doing this until you reach an empty cup. If that empty cup is on your side of the board, you may capture all the seeds in your opponent's cup right across from this last cup. If it is on their side, you don't capture any seeds.
Did you know the derivation of the word “mankala”? “The name mankala or mancala as it is sometimes written is derived from the Arabic word naqala, meaning “to move something around.” Mankala is actually a general name for the many variations of the game that are played throughout Africa, as well as many other parts of the world. The names of the game boards are usually determined by what type of seed is used for playing, and game boards may vary as far as the number of rows of pockets is concerned as well as slight variations in the rules. Because the art piece I am researching is from the Yoruba people, from now on I will refer to it as Ayo; but the Yoruba people will also refer to it as Ayoayo, meaning “real ayo,” which distinguishes the male version, from those played by women and children.
The exercise of learning the games of different cultures is a fun and interactive way for students (whether in elementary, intermediate, college, or graduate school) to share a fun activity and informally learning the similarities between one culture and their own, and then to explore the history/ derivation of that game. As students share there multicultural game experiences, they will see the evolution of games from the times of “Ayo”/”Mankala”, to “Chinese Checkers“ to “Parchessi / Sorry” to board games like “Candy Land” and ”Monopoly” then to the era of video games with games like “Tetris” and “Marioland” and now onto war-games like “ Modern Warfare”.
I found some interesting facts about the game of “Ayo” listed below” from an Internet article: Ayo: The Yoruba Game Board
by Meaghan O'Connell (http://www.clarku.edu/~jborgatt/discover/1meaghan/ayo.htm
“Ayo game boards are usually found in the town square. They are carved out of large tree trunks, along which many games that can take place at the same time. The game is played with two people, each person sitting on either of the longer sides of the board. Four seeds are placed in each of the carved wooden pockets. The row of six pockets closest to each player is considered theirs to try to keep filled with seeds. The players take turns by picking up all of the seeds from one of the pockets and distributing one seed to each of the pockets in order. The first player to empty the other player’s six pockets wins the game. It may be inferred that the way this game is played, face-to-face, reflects the values of the culture pertaining to interactions amongst people. Yoruba people prefer interacting with others face-to-face, or directly, rather than sending messages through other people. This value is revealed in the playing of Ayo. I also learned about who would own such an elaborate game board such as the one that I have chosen to research. I discovered that due to the elaborate carvings on the sides, it would usually be owned by a religious person of stature.
Ayo is usually played during the day, after work is finished. It is not just a game for the older crowd; in fact, many young children learn how to play Ayo in order to sharpen their math skills. Ayo is generally played by people of the same age group and gender, meaning men play with men, women play with other women, and children play amongst themselves. The mixing of these groups is very uncommon. As a tradition of African society and the belief of male superiority, males and especially elders commonly separate themselves from women and children in order to display their masculinity and authority.
Some resources state that Ayo is not just a recreational game, but that it also has spiritual significance:
“It is played in a house of mourning to amuse the spirit of the dead before it is buried. It is very unlucky to play the game at night as the spirits will want to join in and may carry off the living at the end of the game. Each village would have two types of boards, one with a flat top and one with a curved top, a bit like a banana. When a man died the villagers would play on the board that was not his favorite, so that his spirit would not want to join in” (Mancala Games 2004).
So, In conclusion, Multiculturalism is all about being accepting of people’s differences and educating oneself on their similarities. The saying “What makes us different is what makes us the same” is the key mantra one should express and model, when teaching a formal or informal education session on cultural awareness.
There are several ways to share creatively about a specific culture, through a family tree project, of study of a holiday. However, what better way to learn that to learn than while having fun. Games and minilessons are the key to any lesson. Kids of any age are more relaxed in an informal lesson and will tend to comprehend and retain more when less anxious. Tricking kids into learning by making it fun is an integral tool to a students learning. Learn- and have Fun!!!! Or
Have Fun!!!! And Learn!!!!!
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