Retelling Myths

Lesson Plan – Aleut Myth – 680

“Retelling Aleut myths” is a lesson plan (LP) that I believe embodies the culturally responsive curriculum bullet B, specifically the followin part:

B. A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future.

1. Recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning the principles and practices associated with that knowledge;

The LP requires students to interpret Aleut myth and   deconstruct its deeper meaning.  Through discussion, students will analyze questions posed to them and integrate new knowledge from their deep reflection.  I believe through this discussion students  will come to recognize the value and validity of the “traditional cultural knowledge and beliefs”.  I would go so far as to say they will correlate that knowledge with their current principles and practice, linking in their mind that cultures are a living thing.  They do not just live in the past, but they effect us today in the present and have implications for the future.

Students will formulate and create their own “Myths” that recognize similar principles from the traditional myths, but that is set in their own vision. They will then role-play and act out student’s skits, thereby demonstrating their take of the chosen myth.  This activity integrates storytelling, which I believe is an important skill, especially within the Social Studies realm.  Everyone has a perspective in history, and for students, I hope to expose them to as many culture’s stories/history’s as possible.  More exposure = more knowledge to gain a well rounded experience.


3 thoughts on “Retelling Myths”

  1. Excellent thoughts there, Shivani. I especially appreciate your thought about exposing kids to stories from many different cultures and backgrounds. Of course, in order for these things to be intelligible, one needs to scaffold carefully, but you’re absolutely right that the goal of a “more well rounded” education is desirable.

    Also, I have wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the insights in a comment you made around the first class session for some time. You were talking about how, growing up in Ohio, at one point your teacher had you (and your family?) come in and sort of culturally present some “Indian” things. (I think you mentioned food, and I would presume saris, etc.)

    I liked your comment for two reasons. The first was that, even after the show of traditional Indian things, a lot of the other kids still didn’t “get” you. That is to say, I believe you made mention of them saying things like, “oh, now we know what you eat at home,” when in fact you were maybe more likely to eat something like mac and cheese. They could not see that your family’s internal culture was shifting through the process of immigration, etc. And clearly they had created some kind of a stereotype without thinking.

    I think it’s very hard in life not to stereotype. People (myself included, of course) often form half-notions of things and assume they know the whole truth about others when in fact the other is often more complex than we can imagine.

    The second reason I appreciated your comment is that you said that the whole affair made you feel very awkward. It really drives home the point that teachers need to really tread lightly. Do you think there might have been any way that the event wasn’t awkward and uncomfortable? If you don’t mind the time for the explanation, what did the teacher/school do wrong?

  2. Oh, and I’m dumb! I totally wanted to tell you that I thought your idea about having kids tell their own myths was a great idea! I think it could be something that if they engaged with it it could be really enjoyable and eye-opening for them.

  3. There are multiple people in our class that would do something similar for a different culture. I like the idea that it is the Aleut stories and myths that would be discussed. However, I would like for you to change this from the Aleut, specifically, to any indigenous group of the region of the school, or any indigenous group from an unknown culture.

    I like the idea of “make your own myth.” It is a common idea when it comes to learning about cultures, but I think that is because it is an excellent idea.

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