Creating a Class
Before engaging in a curriculum project between two classes, teachers
usually find it helpful to exchange what have come to be known as "discovery
packages", "group self-portraits" or "culture packages".
Whatever name is chosen, the function of the package is to break the ice
and establish a common point of reference between distant classes. Discovery
packages may be envelopes or small boxes filled with student autobiographies,
maps, photographs, audio and videotapes, and other carefully selected
articles from the school and the community such as postcards, school newspapers,
and student artwork.
Many classes find this activity so valuable that a series of packages
are exchanged throughout the year, each time exploring more fully with
students the provocative question, "What is culture?" and then,
"What are the cultures represented in our class and community?"
and "How might we represent our cultures to another group?"
educators emphasize that "one of the goals of multicultural education
is to show that culture is not a collection of "quaint customs"
but actually a system of strategies for living" (Menkart, p. 11).
Teachers can encourage students to identify metaphors and symbols to include
that represent the values, ways of knowing, and social relationships that
have helped members of their culture survive and thrive. The least interesting
packages are random collections of artifacts; the most interesting are
carefully composed collections of symbols that reveal values and relationships
within the community.