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A Place-Based Study of Culture Through the Lens of the 9-10s

Thursday, June 15, 2017

9-10s Tertulia

In their last Lower School Spanish class, the 9-10s took time to reflect on the meaning of culture. Here is an opportunity to listen in.

  • “Culture is what you believe in and what shapes you.”
  • “Culture is who you are. Family, beliefs, heritage and history”
  • “Culture is how you approach things and how you see things in different ways than others.”
  • “Traditions and/or celebrations that a family has. It could also be values and/or beliefs.”
  • “Culture is tradition and it’s how you think of things.”
  • “Culture is something that you have. The traditions, food, dancing, praying and different things that other cultures have. Everybody has a culture.”

At Manhattan Country School, place-based learning extends beyond our students’ physical environments. It reaches into a study of their local values, practices, traditions and beliefs. Then as students gain a deeper sense of the nature of culture, the balance between continuity and change, they begin to see themselves as active participants in the process. And as transmitters of culture within our school, for example as Reading Buddies to the 6-7s, there is added responsibility and a question that all groups and societies face. Are there aspects of our classroom or school culture that should be changed?

In the 9-10s, students question, are there ways to be more inclusive, cooperative, creative or healthy? If so, who are the experts? What and where are the resources we can turn to in our community? Should we visit the art room, library or a local museum? Who can we interview to gain a deeper understanding of immigration and the city we live in? As critical and creative thinkers, students are empowered to question, strengthen and reimagine their local spaces and communities. Then naturally, this investigation of culture expands their sense of place to include history and social responsibility. That the 9-10s' learning and work has led them to be thinkers, risk-takers, open-minded, caring, balanced and reflective is captured in their answers below to the question “How does where I live and go to school shape who I am?”

  • “It makes me normal and whole.”
  • “MCS has made me feel like an activist.”
  • “It’s affected me in a good way because I like who I am.”
  • “I am from Brooklyn, New York. It shapes who I am because I can be me wherever I am.”
  • “Where I live there are a lot of different people and families. And where I go to school there are also a lot of different people. So who I am is I’m friends with everyone.”
  • “My school shapes me in a way so that I’m smarter and sort of tougher and same with where I live.”