The objective of this unit is to point out the significance of similarities and contrasts of three separate cultures of the United States through music. The goals and objectives of this curriculum are geared to the student’s need to understand the African, Latino, and the European culture of the past and present world in hopes that they will be better equipped to make decisions about their place in today’s society, socially, spiritually and professionally. Students are exposed to a richer account of history, musically supplemented in order to better understand the complex world of today. Students enjoy learning about themselves and others, while getting the benefit of exciting lessons in a non-formal setting. Knowledge of the cultures builds pride in home, school, and the community.
The curriculum unit can be taught to all students in the school during their music enrichment classes. It is composed of several lessons that include the traditional music subject matter, supplemented by new and fresh parameters taken directly from research and resources of the seminar.
This unit appeals to the elementary school age student between first and fifth grade, and is an abounding learning experience for children of all races, religions, and cultures. The students that will benefit the most from the contents and the method of this unit are those who need to learn about the importance of respect for those they live and work with from day to day. This unit is a pride builder, yielding confidence to each by addressing some ideas about the people who inhabit the United States and how they are culturally accepted into society.
Through music, students can be taught to deal with the tensions and contradictions in our present society, and bring about solutions to problems. Learning about culture will open doors for them; at the same time the experience yields a sense of worth.
Students find out about their background and gain the knowledge of important historical facts by studying the origin of the major individual cultures presently existing in the United States. The lessons yield facts about their background which aid them in understanding their ethnic background and those of people they come in contact with on a daily basis. Knowledge of the cultures that help to make up North American society will allow students to develop confidence and help them to grow to their full potential.
After taking into consideration the above, students take a deeper look into the more recent past and work their way up to the present day situation placing emphasis on the more practical aspects that deal with their concerns and needs in the future.
A comparison of the history of the mainstream cultures is made by examining facts about how this country got started. Students discuss the map of Mexico, South America and North America pointing out the travels of the Spaniards, Africans, and other Europeans to the New World. Then we’ll follow the history of the establishment of their colonies. Africans from the African west coast are discussed in accordance with the plantations of the Atlantic coast along with the role played by Spain and Portugal in their transportation efforts towards slavery.
Students become aware of an account of the Europeans expedition from the Iberian Peninsula to the New World and their need to put the lowland Indians to work.
Music of the cultures play a great role in characterizing each ethnic group to its fullest extent, giving a sense of the cultural scenario behind each. In order to understand the ways of these people we must look into the special effects that help to make a culture come to life. In this case we start with African music and compare it to Latin dance beats, jazz, spirituals, gospel blues, etc., as well as authentic American Indian dance, while the lessons focus on the values and generalizations of the music and its use of language and openness toward politics. Emphasis may be placed on the popular forms, religion, and its social role, tradition and innovation.
Students will discuss and experiment with Black Dialect to show that the dialect of Black Americans was probably the result of creolized form of English, at one time spoken on southern plantations by Black slaves. This account will give students a brief history of the Black dialects. Pidgin English served the purpose of a
when African slaves produced children, because there was no one African language which those children could use with their peer group. Since the abolishment of slavery the number of blacks who speak standard English has increased greatly. A majority of blacks still speak a “radically nonstandard” English which has been maintained as an identifiable characteristic of their ancestral English.
A comparison of Afro-American, Latin-American, and the European culture will show the significance of language and dialect in society, school, and home by putting emphasis on some rules of the grammar of formal and informal language styles in English. Language change begins with major historical events that affects the development of the human species in general. The planned lesson involves illustrations of examples of language changes and consequently variations, namely Pidgin, and Creole.
Exposure to individual races and their mixtures that help to make up the society in which we live, reveals the contrast between the patterns of race in the Americas and aid students in understanding the differences in the races and where they originated. Emphasis is placed on the American Indian as the back bone of Mesoamerica.
The Conquest of the New World is discussed to help students understand the slave system of the fifteenth century with a closer look into the involvement of other races and their influences on the slave trade. We look at the slave trade of the Indians and Africans by the Spanish and Portuguese: the groups that were transported to Brazil, slave expeditions from the Caribbean Islands and the effect the slave institution had on the Indians. Next we follow the history of the change in slavery in the middle of the sixteenth century.
The need for understanding today’s society and how it is supposed to work for everyone involved, how they can make it work for themselves and where they fit into the scheme of the mainstream culture, exposes students to their rights to education, religion, private life, and civil rights and duties in the United States. Students can discuss some of the existing religions in the United States, with mention of Catholics, Protestant, and the Jewish Faith and the implication of the Constitution. Students must also focus attention upon education as a means of advancement in society.
Ultimately, it is my hope that this curriculum unit will help to bridge the gap between the groups in the school as well as in the community at large, and that new information and resources available will make it possible to bring students closer together. Academically speaking, students will have a better opportunity to succeed and build for the future.