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Lesson Plans

Deep totem poles

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Peggy Woolsey (woolspeg)
Wed, 15 Oct 1997 14:53:32 +0800

>The children may NOT have the origional materials to work with but in
>the process of actually making a totem pole, kachina,etc. they are
>really learning alot about the culture and the history.

Sandra, I think you've put your finger on it here. This is exactly
what I question in the use of totem poles et al. How much are the children
actually learning about the culture and the history of the people whose
objects they are emulating? What in the process provides them with
"insight?" If we want them to experience self-identification such as in
making crests based on heraldic imagry, then perhaps there is something
within their own cultures to substantiate this. Otherwise are we not making
assumptions based on our own cultures (in the end) about other cultures for
our own purposes? It's not really so deep, it's just the way it's always
been done. And now there is re-evaluation of the way things have always
been done.
Having cedar to work with only begs the question.

> They know that it is made of wood, but we
>just want to try and duplicate it as best we can, with what we have.
>They are learning in this process. Thats what we want.

My question is, what are they learning in this process? Is it
possible they are also learning that thousands of years of cultural
evolution can be "duplicated" in an art or social studies unit? Are they
learning that the symbolic content (interpreted) of a culture can be easily
incorporated into our own? And, here's a wild projection (she said, pulling
on her flameproofing gear):What if some Salish children on the NW coast, in
their unit on Christianity, decided to make crucifixes out of toilet paper
rolls and plastic buckets? Of course, they would study the history and
culture of the Christian people. In three weeks.
(disclaimer: I know that the crucifix and the totem pole are not equivalent
or interchangeable! And that NW coast aboriginals practiced their craft
many thousands of years before Christ was born,in what we call the stone
age.) Peggy