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ERIC Number: EJ863947
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Nov
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
Using Picture Books to Expand Adolescents' Imaginings of Themselves and Others
Taliaferro, Cheryl
English Journal, v99 n2 p30-36 Nov 2009
Multicultural education and a multicultural curriculum are vital components of contemporary education. While most educators recognize the value of multicultural education in attempting to create a more just world, some lament that they do not have time to incorporate multiculturalism into their classrooms in light of all the content that must be covered to prepare students for high-stakes standardized tests, and others admit that they do not know enough about how to incorporate multicultural lessons into their classrooms. The concerns expressed by educators trying to enact a multicultural curriculum are intimately linked to the concept of imagination, which Vygotsky considered to be "a process directly connected with meaning-making, a higher psychological function that has connections not only with emotions but also with intellectual functions." When students can imagine themselves in the world of a novel, when they can understand the worldviews that inform characters' attitudes and beliefs, then it becomes possible for them to develop empathy for characters whose lives are different from their own. How can teachers help students understand and empathize with characters whose lives are far removed from their own, a process that can often be uncomfortable and that is at times hindered by students' preconceived notions of others? The author addressed these issues by implementing a novel study of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" in a predominantly middle-class ninth-grade classroom. In this article, the author discusses how she used African picture books to help American students develop empathy and cultural knowledge in their reading of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" and imagine alternative views of Africa and of themselves--new views that led several of them to take their first steps in advocating for a more just world. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A