Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Year 2 social studies

Miriam brought home her social studies textbook yesterday, which is the first time I've been able to get a good look at it. In my MA classes, we talk a lot about course materials being appropriate for their audience, whether culturally or otherwise. For example, a colleague of mine who teaches at a middle school here told me how her students are puzzled by their (American) textbooks' discussions of people like Harriet Tubman - good to know, but really, not that relevant or engaging to an Arab living in the UAE.

I was pleased to see that Miriam's social studies textbook is not ridiculously focused on the far-off, irrelevant societal particulars of, say, the UK, or even the US. What I mean is, the book is meant for an English/Arabic-speaking audience based in the Middle East (the books are published in Jordan). So in a way, this post is an extension of My Child's Childhood, in that I am amazed to see how she is learning about the world just like I did as a kid, but from a totally different perspective (half a planet away).

 I can tell you one thing: I wasn't learning about the capital of Sudan at age 7.

 I'm glad she knows the capital of the US!

 At school, Miriam is learning that the country to the west of Jordan is Palestine. She is learning that the Golan Heights belong to Syria. However, it appears that this map maybe kind of sort of allows that Hatay Province belongs to Turkey, not Syria. Then again, the borders on this map are not very exact, so maybe they're just hedging their bets.

 I don't know the particulars of what all went down with Western Sahara, but on this optimistic map, it just flat out belongs to Morocco. I was also happy to learn from Miriam's textbook some of the nuances of "Arab World." It's a nebulous concept and depending on who you ask, certain countries are or are not Arab. This Jordanian-produced textbook has all the regulars plus Djibouti, Somalia, and...Comoros. Interesting.

Finally, I was intrigued by this basic world map that is included on one of the first pages of the textbook. It appears to be a different projection than the one I grew up with. I'm not a geography expert, so I'm not sure I can place it exactly, but as you can see, it's one of the projections that allows non-US/European countries their proper proportions.

I'm glad Miriam is learning about social studies through a contextualized textbook that knows its audience.


Liz Johnson said...

The map is missing South Sudan!

(isn't it crazy how often those maps need to be updated?)

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

Lots of I retesting perspectives. In the next year or so they will probably need new books, after Syria finishes imploding, one way or another. Hopefully she will have more assignments that she brings home.

For another "map related" post, you might be interested in how political perspectives on maps are being re imagined. http://www.wheatandtares.org/2012/11/05/mapping-elections-and-mormonism/

After the election outcome is known, it will be interesting to look at.

Kathy Haynie said...

Fascinating to get a glimpse of curriculum materials that aren't US-centric. That's pretty much all I ever see.

Shannon said...

I taught 9th-grade literature at Al Wattaniah in Damascus, and our American textbook included chapter after chapter on African-American literature. The kids were dying of boredom. English curriculum that's not America-centric is brilliant.

Bridget said...

Exactly! Over here, there is the misconception that because a textbook is exactly what is used in America (or the UK), it must be the best fit for an American or UK curriculum school in the UAE. I would say that is almost never the case. At least not if you want to engage your students.

Bridget said...

I know, right?

Cait said...

Cartographers for Social Equality!


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