Making Connections with Afghanistan in Kent

An old bazaar scene in Kabul City, Afghanistan.

An old bazaar in Kabul City, Afghanistan. (Wikipedia)

We had Emily Campbell’s ESOL class join my class today to discuss Afghanistan. I had a serendipitous meeting that took all of four minutes in the copy room – I mentioned that my students were working on a paper about Afghanistan and she told me that she had students from Afghanistan. We emailed back and forth for a bit and then agreed that they should all get together and talk about who they are, how long have they been in the U.S., and what should Americans know about Afghanistan. It was a very successful meeting. My students got a chance to meet students from Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries, and put a human face on to the headlines we have been reading about.

Each quarter my students in Language Arts/Social Studies write about critical areas in the world that are in the headlines. This serves a couple of purposes: first, it keeps the curriculum current and relevant. Second, it gets rid of all of the gun control and abortion papers that many of the students have already written in high school and are often available for download. Lastly, it helps them to figure out that social studies is a living subject and that history is made everyday by real people.

For the Afghanistan assignment, we read a profile of Afghanistan, watch the film “Children of the Taliban,” we read four positions on Afghanistan, and we bring in news articles for discussion. The students pick a possible solution to the war, write a short paper on it, and then present it in class.

I learned from the students that my curriculum for this assignment needs to be updated. I take that very seriously and am currently working on that. I was worried at first that students might not be willing to talk about something so personal. Some of them had lost family in the wars in Afghanistan. But that was not the case: it was a good conversation, and my students asked good questions.

This is why I got into education in the first place: learning is about making connections between information, ideas, and people. It is about building relationships and connecting with one another.

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