By Dr. Amy L. Holland, Geography Teacher
Grimsley Junior High School, Bentonville, Arkansas
December in Arkansas often means a mix of weather patterns. Sometimes it rains, other times it snows, but it is always cold. Except during the weekday when you are too busy to enjoy it! Then the weather surprises you and warms up enough to make you want to take a sick day. However, since December flies by in the blink of an eye, so does the time with our students. I really enjoy this time because as we look forward to the winter break, the students continue to realize what they once thought was a “tradition” is actually an element of their native culture.
I like to travel virtually to different areas of the world as we study culture. After Thanksgiving break, we head to Latin America. A continent full of life and culture! I also have many students whose parents have immigrated from various countries within Latin America. Our discussions are so insightful and I learn as much, if not more, than my students do! It truly is one of my favorite months of the year as a teacher.
We also watch a documentary, “Living On A Dollar A Day”, which takes place in the country of Guatemala. The documentary takes the viewer on a journey through life in Guatemala as the gentlemen live and work earning only $1 a day. They face so many challenges and hardships yet they can see a light at the end of the experience. Native Guatemalans live on $1 a day, sometimes less, without ever seeing a higher income.
My students are shocked at first by the documentary. They can’t imagine life without the everyday luxuries they currently have. However, as we continue to discuss and relate it to culture and the documentary, the students’ world lens has widened a bit. This documentary is just one of many by Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci. We will watch another, “Salam Neighbor,” as we travel through the Middle East. Both are films that lead amazing discussions in my geography classroom.
The month of December will fly by, almost as quickly as the week and a half of winter break. Okay, so I’m fibbing a bit. We all know that winter break might be a week and a half, but it goes by super fast! So we will enjoy our culture discussions and documentaries in my classroom. I hope to help my students see how culture affects a country or area.