Sunday, November 11, 2007

Takaki 11: The Spatial Jews

I was thinking for a while about how to incorporate visual/ spatial intelligence with a chapter about Jewish immigrants in America and New York city in the early 20th century and then it came to me.... Jewish history IS spatial. The Jews have always been known as a wandering people. Whether it was from the exodus out of Egypt of out of Europe in World War 2, for most of history the Jews have been a people without a home. Constantly they have wandered and dispersed, their hearts in one place and their bodies in another. They have, wherever they have gone added tremendously to whatever community they have joined. So how do I convert that natural link into a lesson based on visual and spatial intelligence?

The website is an amazing resource that discusses the mobility of the Jews over time, and gives an example similar to those in Takaki about Jews in Shtetls. The students will be divided up into groups and they will have one of these stories. They will read the biography and then based on the story, draw a visual representation of life inside the shtetl of that particular Jewish immigrant.

Finally, to connect them to the broader context of physical divisions in cities and towns between different immigrant groups I would have them relate that to their hometown of Washington D.C. I would hand out one DC neighborhood map per group and have them guess what the largest ethnic groups were in each neighborhood and then check to see if their perceptions were true. Finally I would show them a similar breakdown of NYC ethnically in the 1920's so that the connection is made clear.

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