Niagara Gazette — When asked to share what they know now about Turkey, many of the second-graders raised their hands. Corinne Ball noted that “They all wear headscarves there,” while David Lounsbury added “they take their shoes off in church because they don’t want to get any dirt in church.” Aidan Snyder, remembering a lesson on ancient Cappadocia, noted that “some people live in caves.” Ava Mitchell added that Turkish people “pray five times a day.”
Benjamin said the lessons fit perfectly with the Common Core requirements that the class learn about Asia this year. The have also studied Japan, and where they learned about silk making first hand and visited the Silk Road trade routes on the Asian continent, with the help of Google Earth.
While some educators balk at the requirements of Common Core, Benjamin appreciates the world view of the program. “It prepares them for a global world and I think we really lack that in a lot of our curriculum.”
The Turkish component was added after Murteza brought a treat to class that no one could recognize. It was a sort of Turkish pizza with ground meat on pita bread. “It pretty much tasted like a taco and we all enjoyed it,” Benjamin said. The treat, and Murteza’s family’s willingness to share their customs, has lead to a wide ranging year-long lesson on Turkey and Benjamin’s interest in researching teachers’ interest in expanding cultural lessons.
Benajmin has been learning right along with her students, she said, and remarked with a smile about how her second-graders now have some understanding of different religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. “When I was in second grade, I barely knew about Catholicism,” she laughed, as she watched her class enjoy the Turkish cooking demonstration.
She added how impressed she was at how open her 7- and 8-year-olds were to trying new foods.