There is no more important task before this nation that building and encouraging children to learn. All of us are now firmly a part of a global society on which our economic and political lives depend. Understanding other cultures and groups is no longer a luxury. It is imperative. As teachers, we need to help our children discover that many elements of many cultures exist within our way of life and that understanding others is not only important but also relevant to our own lives. In education, we teachers know that the diversity of cultural values and family customs in our communities make every class multicultural to some degree.
is one of the fundamental signs of our humanity. It is the “palette” from which people color their lives and culture. Intimately connected to the human experience, language oils the gears of social interactions and solidifies the ephemera of the mind into
is a central element of who we are, how we think of ourselves, and how others see us. It is tied in a myriad of ways to the history of generations past and to the present—day struggles of culture, identity, and communications in homes, communities, schools, and variety of other institutions.
has been enriched by a vast numbers of words from many cultures, and languages, especially from Latin America.
With the design of a program using the Latin American process of Literature and Poetry of the 20th Century, (adapted to the interest and development of each child) our students will love to listen to the stories, providing the setting to study elements of literature. The teacher should discuss meanings with students, whenever possible. Students will be asked to do various activities to prove that they are able to use language expressions or vocabulary in situations not necessarily related to the story-line of the poetry—or short novel selected. This program is guaranteed to make the students more eager and able to understand and discuss the strength and power of other cultures, incorporating higher—level thinking skills. By introducing this Unit, we are acquainting our children with part of their own heritage and literature as Americans.
They may learn that there exist marked similarities and differences between North American culture and that of their neighbors. This Unit also open the way to interdisciplinary discussion of Latin Americas problems in which the United Stated plays an active role (political intervention, industrialization). Depending on the short novel chosen or stories, this Unit can functioning as an alternative selection of readings for the Social Studies class or as part of a more comprehensive study unit on Latin American topics. Some of the stories treated in the complete unit are Gabriel Garc’a Márquez, “
Un D’a De Estos
,” (One of these days), “
Los Funerales de la Mama Grande
” (Big Mama’s Funeral), “
” (Tuesday Siesta), and “
” (Artificial Roses). Poems: “
” (Village), “
” (The Grove), Octavio Paz, 1970.
The degree to which this program is successful will, of course, depend largely on the teacher use of the materials.
Perhaps the most important feature of the Unit is the belief that the essential goal of reading the stories, novels and poems of the Latin Americas, is to inspire in the students the enjoyment of knowing these relatively untouched areas in the elementary school curriculum (also in middle and high school) due to the lack of relevant texts for kindergarten to 12th grade level. It is only in the past few years that texts have appeared introducing Contemporary Latin American novels, stories and poetry.
To integrate the teaching of reading Latin American literature and poetry, it is advantageous to be aware that children are introduce to reading, using large, purposeful units of meaning. The selection is discussed, and activities related to it may all be carried out before the selection is broken into paragraphs, sentences, words and letters. Strategies such as context, sentence structure, and word knowledge help them to recognize
First a book must be chosen that will fit curricular needs and the interest and abilities of students. After several careful readings of the book—short story or poem in English and Spanish, it will be possible to sketch out the Objectives and Activities for the Lesson or Unit. The approach of this Curriculum Unit is to present the New Narrative and poetry within the context of Latin America history and culture. According to the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, “Latin America was founded on the basis of a fantastic invention, and that the New World in contrast of the European surrealism, is permeated with magic and myth.” (pg 17) (1).