Використання живопису та поезії у вивченні країнознавства (англійська мова)

Using Art in Teaching Country Study

After teacing the course of Country Study (British and American geography, history and culture) for several years, I have come to the conclusion that foreign language learning is often foreign culture learning. Language and culture can not be separated, so foreign language teaching requires considering more than just linguistic issues, a person needs sound knowledge of the culture to which a language belongs. As Edward Sapir once said, language becomes the medium expression for the society that humans live in.

Since my major concern is to build the teaching process getting my students into good intellectual habits and cultivating their critical thinking and communicative skills, teaching British and American History using art has proved to be of great help in my work. In my Country Study classroom students not just learn facts from written history, but discussing works of art they develop their own questions, they observe how historical periods or events influence people's minds, they learn to understand how religion or political ideals form opinions in a society, they come to understanding multiple perspectives and learn to separate opinion from fact appreciating the value of each, and finally, they get acquainted with artistic heritage of famous English and American painters which is an inavitable part of the countries'culture.

For example, while covering the issue of Native Americans in the 18th - 19th centuries the work by George Bingham "Captured by Indians" painted in 1848 became the subject of long and interesting debates in my classroom.

This painting reinforces current federal practices of attaking native tribes, breaking treaties, and moving large groups onto reservations. Showing a white woman and a child as prisoners of armed savages played on widespread fears about threats to the frontier communities. The woman just to the right of centre is pale, gazing upward in prayful anxiety, vulnerable, waiting to be rescued by the strength and cleverness of white males. In this scene, the threat implied by the armed, bare-chested, feather-crowned tridesmen is somewhat mitigated by the fact that two of them have dozed off and the alert guard looks solemn rather than vicious. There is some ambiguity about other details. The woman may have been just kidnapped as the melodrama seems to imply. However, the fact that she is wrapped in an Indian blanket and the child is barefoot suggests that she may have been with the Indians for some time and adopted their ways. "Captured by Indians" is a night scene with strong contrasts of light and dark to produce drama. Some suggestions for how to approach the painting are as follows:

Visual analysis questions:

How does Bingham draw the viewer into the painting?

This painting has a small group of people gathered together. Examine the position of each figure and think about how it contributes to the energy and feeling of the piece. See if you can determine what senses are most active with each character.

Country Study activities:

1.You are a historian. If no date or title were posted with this painting, what would you be

able to discover about the location, the people, their lives and occupations? Give the specifics you find in the painting.

Writing project ideas:

Create a contemporary interpretation of this painting. Think about what elements would be the same or different (this could be a group project where students make cutouts of characters and then reassemble the painting when complete).

You are a reporter looking for a story, and you arrive at the Indian tribe's settlement. Write a story for the "New York Times".

Imagine yourself one of the characters in the painting. Write a descriptive letter covering the events of the day.

You are a playwright. Let a character come to life. As you write the dialogue for your scene, remember about the historical peculiarities of the period.

While teaching the theme "Segregation in the USA," I suggest to students' attention two paintings: one is "Henry Darnall III" painted by Justus Englehardt Kuhn in 1715, the other is "Cafe," a work painted in 1940 by William H. Johnson, an Afro-American painter. "Henry Darnall III" is a work of a boy of a Virginia oligarch, but it is also the first work known to portray a black. He is wearing a polished silver collar and gazes at Darnall with submissive adoration, sort of like a dog. That's how slaves were treated in America at the beginning of the 18th century.

In his work "Cafe" William H. Johnson depicted a black man and a white woman sitting together at the table in a cafe, embracing each other. The painting was created at a time when most black artists were still riding the crest of the Harlem Renaissance and the movement for civil rights was just beginning to arise. Until the 1960s the separation of people by colour remained legal in some parts of the United States. Under this system, blacks were not allowed to attend the same public facilities as whites, so the painter's dream of equality found its expression in the work.

While comparing the two paintings students see the evolution of black-white relations from the flourishing of slavery till the start of the civil rights movement. The following questions can be used to begin thinking about the paintings:

Content: What is the subject of this work?

What are the objects of this work?

When was the work created?

How does this work reveal the historical period?

Analysis: What are the unique features of this work?

What techniques does the artist use?

How is this work organized?

Interpretation: What is the impact of time and place on this artist?

What feelings, moods, and ideas are communicated by this work?

How is symbolism used in this work?

Thus, use of art in Country Study classrooms encourages students to have a free discussion, to reflect upon and create a logical argument, generate ideas and then evaluate a number of alternatives to human problems. It is an effective means of developing students' most important intellectual competences, such as critical and creative thinking and intercultural competence.

Using Poetry in Teaching Country Study

The latest psychological, cultural, and linguistic data maintain the assumption that interpretative strategies are grounded in the interface of cognition and emotion. This interface finds its most vivid embodiment in literary discourse, students' response to which, especially at the advanced level, is an important vehicle for the further development of learners' cognitive styles. (Turner, 1996; Fauconnier & Turner, 2000).

Being deeply convinced that one of the best ways possible to teach history is through human perception of events, I am sure that reading and disscussing poetry in the classroom can not only help to cultivate students' feeling for language and literary competence, but also bring them to a better realization and understanding historical events through other people's thoughts and feelings. Generating multiple interpretations as well as triggering the so called emotive resonance effect, I aim to help students'intellectual habits mature.

On analyzing poetry I have my students follow the steps worked out by Dixie J. Grupe ("Teaching Good Thinkers",1998) which have already proved to be resultful. Giving students specific guidance in using their skills to organize ideas, I encourage them to analyze and discuss different strategies and techniques and involve them in contemplation and debate.

Individual work.

As you read your poem, try to observe yourself reading. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Does your mind wonder? To what does it stray? Jot your thoughts as you read or immediately after you finish, so that the sequence of events is fresh in your mind.

Individual work.

What was the poem about? Paraphrase the poem - retell it briefly.

Individual work.

Think about the poem. Re-read it if you want. What do you make of it? What personal significance does it have for you? What does it confirm or contradict with your own life experiences?

Individual work.

Upon what in the text did you focus most intently as you read? What word, phrase, image or stuck in your mind? What is the most important word in the poem?

Discussion in small groups.

Discuss the poem and your thoughts on the meaning with your group. You may consider any or all of these questions. Jot your group's ideas on your paper.

Could you identify with the poem in any way?

What are the issues in this poem? (personal? social? religious? political?)

What are the stereotypes perpetuated in this poem?

What startling or confirming images are presented in this poem?

Sharing with the class.

Come up with a group statement of the THEME of the poem.

How might you illustrate this poem?

What important issue about the discussed historical event does this poem suggest which deserves futher investigation?

I usually select poems that suggest a wide field for discussion and at the same time contain relatively simple vocabulary so that students do not get drowned in the "chaos of lexis". To prevent difficulties that may arise while reading a poem, I simply write the needed translation of definitions of new words on the blackboard, then students are able to concentrate on the main topic of the lesson.

For example, while stuying the theme of the American War for Independence, I picked up the following poem for discussion.

In the Grass: Halt by the Roadside

In my tired, helpless body

I feel my sunk heart ache;

But suddenly, loudly

The far, great guns shake.

It is sudden terror

Burdens my heart? My hand

Flies to my head. I listen…

And do not understand.

Is death so near, then?

From this blaze of light

Do I plunge suddenly

Into Vortex? Night?

Guns again! The quiet

Shakes at the vengeful voice…

It is terrible pleasure.

I do not fear; I rejoice.

Robert Nichols

halt [ holt ]- stop or pause

blaze [ bleiz ]- bright flame or fire

burden [ b3:d n ]- load

to plunge [ pl nd ]- to thrust or force into a penetrable substance

Votex [ v t ks ]- a whirlwind

vengeful [ vend ful ]- showing a desire for revenge

When analyzing the poem, students look at another aspect of the war, the human side. Through the words of a soldier who experienced the conflict they can evaluate a human response to the War for Independence. The poem poses some interesting questions to students, such as:

Why did the author feel "sudden terror" in the beginning of the poem but then "terrible pleasure at the end? Why did he rejoice? Why didn't he understand what had happened to him though he was at the field of the battle? Was he happy to die for the independence of his country or he was glad that the terror of the war was going to end for him? What's the author's attitude to death?

Students find the word "Votex" most important in the poem because it describes both the war and death vividly. By the end of the discussion students' perseption of the event change in some way because they can contrast political and personal issues of the war. The country gained independence but many lives were ruined or lost which was inevitable because any war is destructive.

Today Americans value their freedom and appreciate the Government policy that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people" and we, Ukrainians, have some lessons to learn from American history and attitudes. As it is shown by modern scientists, you will faster begin to understand who you are if you have the responsibility to compare yourself with something different. Studying a foreign language and culture provides a good opportunity for this. Therefore, we can come to the following conclusions:

in English and Country Study classrooms it is effective to develop students' thinking habits, communicative skills, and intercultural competence using art and poetry in teaching;

learning about a new culture, students will inevitably learn to appreciate that of their own, which may help to form their national identity - a necessary pre-requisite of their successful adaptation in the modern world.

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