Thursday, March 31, 2016

Moksha: Equating versus Relating

I had multiple students point out that I haven't posted anything in 10 days.

I make no apologies.  Teaching takes a lot of time.  :)

We're moving from Gandhi and the Indian independence movement into the study of Hinduism.  (This seems like a natural progression since Gandhi was Hindu.)

One of the (minor) struggles I've had in teaching is getting students to relate, but not equate.  And sometimes, I don't even want them to relate two things - but they do.

Many of my students are Christians.  Many of those who aren't Christian are at least familiar with Christianity because they live in Northern Indiana.

So, when they hear about avatars: Hindu gods that come to earth in the form of humans - many draw comparisons to the Christian belief in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  But Christians wouldn't say Christ was an avatar - they would say he is God (or the Son of God.)  Maybe students could relate the two, but definitely don't equate the two.

In Hinduism, Shiva is the destroyer.  In Christianity, Satan is the destroyer.  But Shiva is not Satan.  In Hinduism, Shiva is not even evil.  Here, I'd like students to neither relate, nor equate.

Christians believe in heaven.  Hindus believe in Moksha.  Moksha is not heaven.  Again, noting the similarities is fine.  Equating them is not.

When I hear students equate, it usually sounds something like this, "Oh... so Moksha is the Hindu heaven?"  Or "Oh... so Shiva is the Hindu version of Satan."


Moksha is the Hindu afterlife, but it's not the "Hindu heaven."

Maybe, if I have time tomorrow I'll give you a better description of Moksha.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, write a couple sentences telling the difference between relating and equating.

Have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.

Turn it in tomorrow.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Control: Elephants, Indians, and Gandhi

Today we watched a scene in Gandhi where he begins his famous "Salt March."  In the scene, Gandhi is talking to the reporter Vince Walker, and says, "They're not in control.  We are."

*Side Note*:  The character Vince Walker is a composite character.  He's apparently a mixture of Webb Miller, William Shirer, and perhaps several others.  Feel free to research this and leave comments on the blog with what you find.  *End Side Note.*

Here's the scene, with the line starting around the 50 second mark:

Several students asked me about this scene on their daily participation papers.  (They have to write at least one question, and one comment - but most students end up writing quite a bit more.)

Here are some examples:

When they asked that question, it again reminded me of "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell.  Here are a couple lines from the essay:

...They were watching me as they would watch a conjurer about to perform a trick.  They did not like me, but with the magical rifle in my hands I was momentarily worth watching.  And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all.  The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly.  And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man's dominion in the East.  Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd - seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind.  I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.  ...A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things...

Orwell knew.  He knew the British only had a false control.  He knew the British weren't really in charge, they only acted the part they were forced to play.  (Or maybe, more appropriately, the part they forced themselves into playing.)

Gandhi also realized this.  He knew the British only maintained a false control - and this only while the Indians were willing to play the part.  This was a part Gandhi was no longer willing to play.

As is usually the case, students may earn some extra credit for my class by reading and discussing the blog with an adult.  If they've done this, write some thoughts from your discussion on a scrap of paper.  Write down whether you agree or disagree.  Was Gandhi in control or not?  What about Orwell?  Perhaps the British were in control?  Were they, and what does that mean?  And what does it mean for us today?

Write a couple sentences about what you think, and what you've discussed.  Then, have the adult you discussed this with sign the paper.  Turn the paper in tomorrow.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gandhi: Day 2

We wrapped up our second full day of Gandhi today.

I should probably apologize for not posting as much as I thought I would:

I'm sorry.  I know it's getting close to the end of the marking period.  If you want to do extra credit, now is the time to get it in.

As I am entering grades, if you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog tonight, you have to go to THIS POST and read it.  (And, of course, discuss it.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Shooting an Elephant: 2016

On Wednesday we read George Orwell's classic essay, "Shooting an Elephant."  Adults, if you've never read it, I encourage you to go read it now.  It will only take about 10 minutes, and your lives will be enriched because of it.

Our class discussed the essay yesterday and today.  There's a lot in there.

I've posted about it numerous times, so instead of posting something new I'm sending you HERE to get the extra credit today.

Also, this week students had to complete a little vocabulary about the essay for homework.

If they didn't do that, they may print it out HERE.

It's Friday.  Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Empire (British and Others)

Last week and this week, we've been studying exploration and colonization.  Today, the students completed a map of the British Empire.  Check it out:

...It was pretty vast.

The 7th grade social studies department teaches several reasons for European exploration and colonization during the so-called "Age of Exploration" or "Age of Discovery."

What I teach as the biggest and most important reasons are LAND, and NATURAL RESOURCES.

It's true, there were many other reasons - noble reasons - for exploring the world.  (Gaining knowledge, for one...)  But the main reasons Europe explored (and colonized) was for land and natural resources.

I'm not really in to casting stones, but let me point out one other thing: The British Empire helped pave the way for others with Imperialistic aims.

England lost moral credibility against Germany in World War II because of its history of imperialism.  I believe it's becoming clearer and clearer that they were both evil.

If you want extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, you are supposed to read and discuss it with an adult.  Discuss the British Empire: how much land they had, whether you believe it was okay for them to colonize the world - why or why not, etc... To prove that you were here, click on the link above, "Age of Discovery" and TKWA any map from that page.  Have the adult you read and discussed the blog with sign the paper when you are done.

Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it, and turn it in tomorrow.

EXTRA:  Here's a video many classes watched today:

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Black History Month: The List

What with snow, standardized testing, and life, I've been pretty bad lately about keeping up with the blog.  So, my apologies.

Before I get into the actual post, a couple things: the 7th grade social studies ISTEP will be on Friday.  The IDOE has given us four topics that will likely be covered on Friday's test.  PLEASE CHECK THIS OUT RIGHT NOW.  Go to the last page, and read the middle column.  (It's really, really short.)  Consider giving a quick quiz to your kid over that stuff.

Second: yesterday we did our colonization simulation.  I'm always excited to post about it, but my phone didn't have any storage left, so I couldn't take any pictures.  If you were absent yesterday and want to make up the points, read at least two posts from this list, and do what they say at the bottom of the post.

As for Black History Month, every day we had school I added another name to the list of prominent people of African ancestry.  Students could get extra credit by researching that person and writing a paragraph about them.  I'm extending this through the end of the week.  Here's the list:

  • Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Mansa Musa
  • Nelson Mandela
  • James Baldwin
  • Scott Joplin
  • Nat Turner
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Toni Morrison
  • Benjamin Banneker
  • Malcolm X
  • Crispus Attucks
  • Colin Powell
  • Richard Wright
  • Desmond Tutu
  • Claudette Colvin
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Leo Africanus
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Mathias de Sousa
  • Hank Aaron

The list is admittedly flawed.  It focuses too much on the 20th century.  Men heavily outnumber women.  I intentionally left off the names that students hear year after year - I wanted to expand their horizons, rather than keep them narrow.  That said, maybe I was wrong to keep them off.

Please help me out by telling me other names I should have included.  You can put them in the comments, or if you have me in class, bring in a list.

Students in my class can earn extra credit by reading and discussing this blog with an adult.  If they've done that, have them define the following 4 terms on a piece of paper.  (The terms come from the IDOE link above.)

Natural resources:

Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow for extra credit.  (Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it as well.)