Reflection 4: Habibi

Reflection based on lesson 8: Working with Graphic Novels or Novels for Teenage Readers on the 23rd of March 2018. This reflection will focus on the pair-work of the graphic novel Habibi by Craig Thompson (2011): https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_U9l9TgiGBvq6pDcAELjkd2yqa_KdKey

During this lesson, I looked at the beautiful graphic novel Habibi with Emil Alexander. The book itself touches upon very heavy subjects both in writing (the story itself), but certainly also from the pictures, which add severity to the meaning regarding e.g., rape and violence. This book will not be suitable for all students and probably only 9th-grade students. Besides this initial disclaimer, I would like to point out 2 main reasons for using this kind of literature in the classroom:

  • A pluralistic approach to language teaching:
    Using books with a lot of Arabic text like Habibi, enabling students with Arabic as their first language, to not only help the rest of the class better but also to enable the Arabic speaking students to draw upon their language prerequisites when reading working this book in the English classroom.
  • Intercultural competence, specifically developing critical cultural awareness: This book has been written by an American, thus the many scenes of violence are naturally shaped by his perception of ‘the Middle East’ and the culture thereof. Reading, reflecting and discussing literature like this in the English classroom can enable students to gain critical cultural awareness, through discussing subjects like critical media literacy, subtextuality, othering and stereotyping.

 

 

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Visual Culture

Reflection on Michael Ryan’s chapter on Visual Culture with Brett Ingram in Cultural Studies – A Practical Introduction.

Visual culture is a field of study. Our life is visual. This encompasses television, films, advertisements, photographs, comic books … anything that relays its story through pictures and images rather than text and words. The chapter introduces The Skeptical Eye, which is to be critical and not believe everything you hear or see in the media. The media often creates a narrow sighted view of the reality, in which some people (mis)take for a fact. It is therefore important as a teacher to give a divers explanation to the students, so they understand that it is a dominated narrative. Having a skeptical eye on’ digital media (news, videos etc) is important to identify the sender of the message and understand the background and context of the dominant narrative represented.

In visual culture, the values that structure dominant narratives are often circulated through mythical stories that condense the complexities of existence into simplified conflicts between good and evil p. 139

Power Structures in Films
It is not just important in today’s media, but it is also not all bad. In contrast to previous (old-school) representations of women on screen: idealised mothers, supportive wives or whores, in Sex and The City the women are representing different and modern female perspectives/roles/personalities, e.g. The character Samantha, who is prioritising career and sex over creating a family – but she isn’t only portrayed as a woman who has sex with a lot of men – but a strong feminist character who is putting her own needs first.

When looking at the old Disney movies, there are plenty of stereotypical representations. One of the most criticised might be Alladin, introducing a lost list of stereotypes of Arab culture –  all the women a represented as sexy or erotic dancers, The Middle East is portrayed as a brutal place where the men are walking on cal, hypnotising snakes, crooks or sword-swallowers – besides the women that are sexy and dancing, the rest of them are covered up and doing laundry. And, finally, the princess Yasmin is seen as being in need of a man to control her.  The original lyrics of Arabian Nights included 

“I come from a land
From a faraway place
Where they cut off your ear
If they don’t like your face
It’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home.”
Though changed in 1993 as they were deemed racist.

Writing this reflection I stumbled upon these videos, which pretty much sums up the Disney issue, empathising that Disney has changed course to a degree, we now see female heroes in movies like Frozen or Brave.

Audience, Performance and Celebrity

Reflection on chapter 12 Audience, Performance and Celebrity from Ryan, M (2010) Cultural Studies: A Practical Introduction.

Only traumatised people want to be famous. – Alanis Morrissette

This chapter explores celebrity attachment as an essential part of psychological constitution, inasmuch as our lives start out being attached to another human’s body, then we grow being attached and depending on family, and later to friends and lovers, meaning that becoming human happens through our attachments; moving from a selfish core to a social, mediated, civil. Thus to some, identifying with a celebrity, gives guidelines and hopes for the future, in the same way as religion does. Celebrity attachment highly makes sense in the society of which not everyone gets to be important, fulfilled or recognised. So to identify with a star allows for momentarily changing into being someone else.

Further, the chapter presents the concept of moral sensibility, which is the hot topic of the gossip of, especially female celebrities, some classic examples that most of us know of would be Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Even due to the positive development of gender equality and women’s rights, women are expected to act and behave in a certain way – or – at least not do certain things. Female celebrities are often reminded to remember that they are role models for their fans.

Personally, I experience, that some of the women’s harshest critics are often other women, I also often see concept of feminism being turned into the hateful bashing of men (especially Caucasian and privileged men (who, by the way, was just born into this world like everyone else)) – there is still an imbalance between the way media portray female vs. male celebrities (and transgender celebrities for that matter as well). I won’t say too much about the following videos, they speak for themselves, but they are my arguments for the importance of bringing these issues into the classroom when talking about media, identity, and culture.

Intercultural Competence in Foreign Languages

 

Reflection on Michael Byram’s text, The Intercultural Speaker and the Pedagogy of Foreign Language Education, chapter 18 of Intercultural Competence in Foreign Languages.

“The weakness in education for citizenship is the assumption that the focus of attention should be local and national, that political literacy means knowledge about processes and institutions within one’s own school, neighborhood, and state/country, and activity should be focused at one or more of these levels. There is nothing surprising in this sense education systems are usually national and were formed with the intention of creating identification with nation-states. But this is now a weakness in the contemporary world of global economies and international organizations, both civic and political” – Michael Byram

The intercultural speaker is a speaker that possess a linguistic proficiency but also an intercultural competence when engaging cross-culturally, thus has no connection with the term native speaker. Michael Byram has created a 5-dimensional model (beneath) to showcase the desired skills of the intercultural speaker (or learner). The categories are divided as follow:

  • Skills of interpreting/relating
  • Skills of discovery/interaction
  • Attitudes-curiosity/openness

  • Knowledge
  • Critical cultural awareness

Worth stressing is, the final dimension mentioned, critical cultural awareness, can be compared to the German educational tradition Bildung aiming of encouraging learners to reflect critically on the society, and this is also one of the most important elements of intercultural citizenship education, thus the category/dimension is placed at the centre of the model, as it is absolutely essential to ensure language teaching has an intercultural – It is essential and ensures that language teaching has an intercultural educational purpose.

Model: Michael Byram’s ICC (Intercultural Competence)-Model

The additional dimensions don’t require a specific priority of the teacher, rather an individual “when it makes sense” implementation.

Worth noting is that Rathje (2007) and others criticise the term intercultural competence as there isn’t any officially-agreed definitive definition, which makes the teaching of it, too soft and unsystematic, thus the models or definitions thereof becomes a contradiction of itself according to Rathje.

“The problem with taking a national culture and identity as the basis for teaching intercultural competences is not, therefore, the problem of essentializing or reductionism. The problem lies in the exclusive focus on one identity and the assumption that, in interaction in a foreign language, it is the only identity present.” – Michael Byram

Sneak Peek

Module Plan:

Lesson

What

Why

How

Week 1: Introduction – Adapting to the entrepreneurial mindset, Input


Figure: The Open-Close Model for Ideation

1 (En)

Ideation
To create good ideas

It’s an integral part of innovation and entrepreneurship process. To change mindset towards opportunities.

Brainstorming exercises

Creative word exercises

2 (En)

3 (En)

Problem-solving

It’s a hands-on approach to task-based thinking. Because the student need to think in terms of adding value to society through their learning process

Introduction to task-forces; podcasts-, video-, “publishing a book”-group, etc.

4 (Ge)

Disruptive vs. Radical Innovation

Why do we need to think about innovation – what’s the impact of disruptive vs. radical innovation on a global scale

Concrete examples and cases.
Video: Sneakerheadz

Week 2: Noticing, Reflecting, Comparing, Input, Repetition

5 (En)

Prejudices & Introduction to Shoes

Identify, construct, deconstruct; empathy

Landeskunde; are there any justified generalisations?

Shoes: look at your own shoes, physical examples, Pictures from all continents
Video: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards (Manolo, 2017)

6 (En)

7 (En)

Autobiography: Cultural awareness

For the students to get an idea of their own cultural awareness; maybe even prejudices

Through material aimed for secondary lower school students

8 (Ge)

The Life-Cycle of a Shoe

To create awareness about the origin, production process, materials and logistics of the products we use everyday – with shoes as the concrete example

Video: In Their Shoes (2015): Atul Sabharwal

Week 3: Noticing, Reflecting, Comparing

9 (En)

Identities

For the student to become more aware of the cultural aspects of identity

Language portfolios, cases

Shoe profiles.- Mix and Match exercises – Reflection: Why?

10 (En)

11 (En)

Culture Game

Element of play for creating an entrepreneurial mindset and combining it with intercultural knowledge, skills and awareness. Also to create an authentic situation for true collaboration.

“Who am I – Who are you!” A mini escape room about acceptance and collaboration.

12 (Ge)

Shoe Functions and Cultures

To give the students a playful and reflecting reference point for understanding functions and culture in society through shoes as a mediating tool.

What shoes would you dance in?

How does it reflect upon you wearing sneaks to a wedding?

Let’s Hip Hop – Dance and play introduction to shoe functions.

You are wearing what?! – A mini roleplay about exaggerated prejudices.

Week 4: Noticing, comparing, reflecting and interaction

13 (En)

What’s important in an interview

For the students to be able to conduct interviews the following week

Creating interview sheets

14 (En)

15 (En)

Put yourself in another persons shoes

Linguistics

Linguistics, synonyms, word plays

16 (Ge)

Demographics, Terrain types

To understand chains of meaning defined by cause and action.

How does a mountain affect our shoe choice?

What does demographic entail for our cultural identity?

Picture analysis

Demographical introduction to cultural groups.

What is a terrain type – Photo Contest

Week 5: Interaction, output

17 (En)

Interview people on the street, take pictures of their shoes

To create

authentic intercultural encounters

An arena for the students to actually test their skills, knowledge and awareness

Collecting the content/material for the final product

18 (En)

19 (En)

20 (Ge)

Week 6: Noticing, comparing, reflecting and interaction

21 (En)

Creation of final product

Fueling motivation for creative urge

Working in taskforces

Editing the book together using Canva

Designing pitch – Presentation Technique

22 (En)

23 (En)

24 (Ge)

Presentation and evaluation

End of module. To evaluate the students actual learning outcome – Change of mindset?

Presenting and pitching final product.

Our model is a combination of:
Figure 1.1: The Practices of Entrepreneurship Education. Source: Teaching Entrepreneurship – A practice-based approach (Nech et al., 2014) &  Figure 4.1 Interacting processes of intercultural learning – Source: Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning (Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013)

SNEAK PEEK MODEL.001.png

Transnationality, Globalisation, Postcoloniality

Reflection on the lesson and Michael Ryan’s chapter on Transnationality, Globalisation and Postcoloniality in Cultural Studies – A Practical Introduction.

How culture is both national and transnational
“Culture is often national in character. The culture of Japan is distinct in many respects from that of nearby China. The cultural traditions are different; the current political culture is different. If one moves a little further away, to Indonesia, say, or to India, the differences multiply – according to religion, food, tastes, languages, literary and musical traditions, and so on. But one would also find similarities between these very different national locations. The same shows might be on television, imports often from one country to the next, or the same Western-style clothing might be on sale in stores. On the radio, one might hear the same international pop music. In many places, culture is both national and transnational, a matter of local production or tradition and a matter of “flow” between nations” (p.170).

Definitions and examples:

• Cultural nationalist endorse the belief that states are politically sovereign entities with clearly defined borders, a unified political and economic system that affects all similarly, and a set of legal and cultural practices shared by its citizens.

• Large culture (essentialism) can be defined by ‘Landeskunde’ for example by demographic facts, closely linked to stereotypes when not talking about pure facts, whereas small cultures (non-essentialism) are cultures inside the large culture e.g. Indian tribes within the US.

National is ‘Landeskunde’ view of a nation, whereas regional is when looking at particular parts of a nation e.g. Chinatown in San Francisco and the Financial District in Manhattan.

• Globalisation means a world of ‘constant motion’. But, the movement of capital, migrants, goods, or information is not inherently free-flowing, libratory, or progressive, as neoliberal (pro-free market) ideology would have it. It operates within particular power structures and frameworks. The flow of good is subject to international tariff and agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

• Power structure: Google and Yahoo infamously entered the Chinese market under the condition that they ban access to all human rights-related sites or redirect the Internet traffic to pages favouring the views of the government. One of the most important arguments in cultural studies is that most of the global frameworks that regulate the flow of capital, goods, technology, and information (the World Trade Organisation, NAFTA, the World Bank, and so on).

 Colonialism refers to the domination of a nation, peoples, or society by another nation through political, military, and economic interventions; territorial expansion/occupation; and various strategies of cultural oppression and coercion (via language, cultural practices, control of media, knowledge, etc.).” (p.172).

• Power; Often a country but can also refer to a group of allied countries working together under the same leader. It refers to their respective influence on the world stage in international relations.

• DevelopmentTime moving forward with new things happening. Often positive, but not always.

• Economic exploitation refers to the usage of the colonized country’s resources such as money, land, people, and machines.

Cultural oppression is when a colonized nation can’t practice their culture because of their oppressors.

Postcolonialism = enduring effects of colonial domination e.g. contributions to national culture (p.173) i.e., the post in postcolonial implies the enduring effects of colonial domination, rather than the end of colonialism. The postcolonial approach in cultural studies acknowledges the power of such cultural exclusion and its lingering effects on cultures worldwide. To colonize is to deprive of land and resources, but also to control the representation of that experience.

“Blindness” in films; The media creates a reality that is often one-sided, as the leader/oppressor control the representation of the experience of being colonized for everyone involved. The “blindness” is the absence of the oppressed point of view in media. (p.173).

• The role of media and nationalistic cultural policies; “… regulating the media and limiting foreign content and foreign private company access to the indigenous cultural market. But with globalization has come an increased penetration of such national enclaves by new media such as satellite television that bring with it content that is distinctly “ modern ” and that is quite different from the local national culture or cultural experience.” (p. 174).

• A common world experience, juxtaposed to local cultural differences, has emerged
> “ The “ look ” of cities in China is increasingly the same as that of cities in the West, as entire old cities are razed to make way for buildings considered to be more modern.” (p. 174)

• The case of India in a transnational context: India is a good example of the diverse issues that arise in studying culture in a transnational context, as it is a postcolonial country (for centuries under British rule), which is reflected in the facts, that about 5% of the population speaks English and the national sport is cricket. Thus India was created (by the Brits) as a nation of many diverse ethnic, linguistic, cultural and regional parts. (p. 175).

Analysis of Gyldendal Fagportral

This reflection encompasses the analysis of a teaching material / sequence platform conducted during a lesson.

Teaching Sequence: Southern Africa (for lower secondary school)

Link to the sequence: http://engelsk.gyldendal.dk/en/Indgange/Topics/Friend_or_Foe/Southern_Africa/Goal.aspx

The views on culture presented in the analysis will be marked by colours according to this order:

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Goals
After working with this topic, you should have a knowledge of the recent history of Southern Africa, especially of the countries of South Africa and Zimbabwe, and an understanding of how the interactions between native populations and European colonizers have shaped the modern societies that have now emerged in these countries.

Assessment Criteria:

  1. You should be able to understand both the gist of and specific information in texts on the subject of Southern African history and modern society in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

  2. You should be able to express your knowledge, ideas and opinions concerning aspects of Southern Africa’s history, development and current situation, and take part in discussions on the theme.
  3. You should be able to understand and make active use of a relevant vocabulary within the theme of Southern Africa’s history and development.
  4. You should have a knowledge of the way that historical events can influence the development of a country and the relationship between its citizens. You should also be able to relate this knowledge to your own life and experiences in Denmark.

 

2) Views of culture

Video from lesson 1:

 

  • European imperialism in Africa: Has a transnational and perhaps non-essentialist narrative perspective on the story of European imperialism in Africa, even though colonial history consisted of multiple, different European countries, conquering multiple different African countries.

 

 

Comprehension questions

There’s a national view since the questions are about a specific area.

E.g.:

1. How long did the colonial period in Southern Africa last?
2. Which countries in Southern Africa were British colonies?
3. Why did the British quarrel with the Dutch colony in Southern Africa?
5. What was the result of the Boer wars?

 

3) Identity and process of othering

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 14.59.55.png

From lesson 2: Apartheid in process: An example of the “othering” that took place in the European narrative of black people.

Ellen Richardson: (description with representations without intersectionality – the subtextuality seems to be that she doesn’t agree with the acts)

Under Apartheid, people in South Africa were classified as belonging to a particular racial group: White, Black, Asian (or Indian) or Coloured. According to the Group Areas Act of 1950, the various racial groups had to be physically separated from each other. This meant that the country was divided into areas that were especially reserved for particular racial groups. Identity documents for Black and Coloured (othering and large-culture essentialism) people stopped them from moving into “White” areas. Sometimes members of the same family were classified in different racial groups and were forced to live apart.

It was difficult for non-White people to work in “White” areas. They had to have special permits and could not usually bring their families with them.

 

4) Representations (intersectionality/subtextuality)

 

Picture from ‘Apartheid – the background’

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 15.03.12.png

This picture shows a representation of the South African people, both black and white fighting against the Apartheid.     

5) Intercultural narratives and discourses – language use in texts and media.

Heart of darkness (Book), Joseph Conrad (also identity and othering), ex. It tells a story from a time when native peoples of the African continent was considered savages.

Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, `When I grow up I will go there’.

Common Objectives for English after 7th grade
The teaching sequence is working towards the following Common Objectives within the “culture and society” field marked in bold:

Kultur og samfund Eleven kan indgå i enkle kulturmøder ved brug af forskellige medier Interkulturel kontakt Engelsk som adgang til verden Tekst og medier
1. Eleven kan give eksempler på forskelle og ligheder mellem kultur- og samfundsforhold i eget land og i engelsksprogede områder Eleven har viden om enkle kultur- og samfundsforhold i engelsksprogede områder Eleven kan deltage i udveksling af enkel information og produkter med elever i udlandet Eleven har viden om metoder til udveksling af information Eleven kan genkende typer af fagtekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om sproglige træk ved fagtekster
2. Eleven kan fortælle om kulturelle forskelle og ligheder i enkle kulturmøder Eleven har viden om udvalgte kultur- og samfundsgrupper Eleven kan med forberedelse og støtte bruge engelsk til internationale henvendelser Eleven har viden om engelsk som lingua franca Eleven kan sammenligne typer af fiktive tekster på engelsk Eleven har viden om enkle genretræk ved fiktionstekster
3. Eleven kan indgå i enkle forberedte kulturmøder Eleven har viden om sproglige regler, normer og værdier hos udvalgte grupper Eleven kan tage initiativ til kommunikation med personer i udlandet Eleven har viden om forskellige medier som adgang til international kontakt Eleven kan anvende varierede teksttyper i forskellige medier på engelsk Eleven har viden om sammenhæng mellem genre, indhold og formål