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ERIC Number: EJ781369
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Dec
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0031-7217
Let's Have a Famine!: Connecting Means and Ends in Teaching to Big Ideas
Wassermann, Selma
Phi Delta Kappan, v89 n4 p290-297 Dec 2007
The social studies teachers of North Fork Senior Secondary School (a pseudonym) had organized an activity to raise students' levels of awareness of the tragic events taking place in Darfur by giving them a taste of what it is like to experience a famine. The North Fork "famine" would last from Friday afternoon at 3:00 until Saturday at noon. Students would be allowed to have water, but no food. At the end of the session, the participating students would be honored at an assembly. It was a voluntary activity, but clearly many students thought of it as an adventure and were preparing to bring their sleeping bags, toothbrushes, cell phones, iPods, and CD players to entertain them through the long, hungry night. Darfur was much in the news, and the social studies teachers, with the best of intentions, were looking for ways to bring the scope and depth of what was happening in that forsaken country "home" to their students. To raise levels of awareness through experience is surely a good thing in teaching, but not every contrived experience teaches what is intended. To trivialize famine in such a way seemed to be a disconnect between means and ends. Surely there were better ways to create teaching/learning experiences that would deepen students' understanding about events that were too large in scope to comprehend through reading textbook chapters. In this article, the author offers a few big ideas that might guide a study of famine and suggests some questions that allow these ideas to be put under examination. She also provides some guidelines for teaching through discussion that may be helpful for teachers who are trying to help students make intelligent meaning from their experience. Using discussion teaching is a critical second stage of making intelligent meaning from a learning experience. It is the beginning of reflection on the experience. (Contains 17 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada