In this two-part challenge, students first explore the ways in which traditions, celebrations, stories and customs reflect a group's values and attitudes, then create a visual display to represent this cultural profile. Introduce the lesson by asking students to look at an identity card (e.g., license, birth certificate) to find out the information it provides about the "identity" of a person (e.g., gender, resident of a city or small community, Canadian citizen or citizen of another country). Invite students to think of other information that might indicate who the person is and what is important to him or her (e.g., martial status, club memberships). Ask students to consider what they can learn about the values of people from their celebrations, traditions, stories and customs. Make a list of a number of practices and customs of groups within the students' own community, and ask students to decide what each says about the people's values and attitudes. (Be sure to draw examples from various groups and to clarify that there is no one identity for the community, but a number of identities. Just as each person has his or her own identity, so do groups within a community have unique identities.) Organize the discussion around three questions:
- What do the events celebrated in the community (e.g., Mother's Day, Remembrance Day, Canada Day) say about people's values (e.g., family and elders are valued, people who fought in wars are honoured, people are proud of the country, religion and sharing with others is important)?
- What do various traditions and customs in the community (e.g., saying hello, opening doors for adults, washing hands before meals, having parties, keeping a photo album) say about people's values (e.g., it is important to be kind, respective, stay clean, friendly)?
- What do various stories told or read in the community (e.g., Superman, Cinderella, Aboriginal legends) say about people's values (e.g., desirable qualities of a person include being brave, honest, strong and hard-working)?
Ask students to select 10 values and qualities reflected in their community's customs, celebrations and stories. They should then try to represent these in a visual collage. Encourage students to symbolically represent the values behind each practice, not simply to select or draw a picture of the practice (e.g., instead of a cartoon of Superman, students might draw someone lifting weights; instead of a photograph of a Remembrance Day celebration, students might include a veteran's poppy). Help students understand symbol representation by showing several pairs of images and asking students to decide which image captures a particular quality or feeling (e.g., which image better represents "soft": a rock or a pillow?; which image better represents "loving": a dog caring for its puppy or a girl riding a bike?). Arrange for students to share and explain their collage, using the opportunity to reinforce the idea of multiple identities within a community.
When students understand the procedure, arrange for them to investigate the values and attitudes reflected in cultural practices of one of the four profiled communities in Tunisia, Peru, India and Ukraine. Select resources that illustrate traditions, celebrations, stories and customs from each community. Ask students to read the materials and to draw conclusions about the values and attitudes that may be behind these cultural practices. If desired, carry out this activity with the entire class using a few selected materials from one of the communities. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Supporting Conclusions (Support Material) to assist students in interpreting the values behind the practices.
Once students have assembled a list of values and attitudes, invite them to select approximately 10 of these to represent visually in a collage made from key words, photographs, drawings and symbols. Students might work in small groups to complete this activity. Ask each group to share its impression of the cultural profile of the assigned community and to explain its elements.