My students need individual copies of Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar's Syrian novel The Map of Salt and Stars.
My students challenge me as much as I hope I challenge them on a daily basis. In my classes, students spend a lot of time learning to read, write and speak about our world. I often hear the question, "Why are we doing history (or science or math---insert any other discipline) in English?" By now, I have concluded that if I DON'T hear that question, then I'm not doing something right. Anything and everything is a text be it traditional print or non-print. So, we read books, articles, tweets, maps, songs, art, photos and even texts on our physical learning walks we often take. All offer views of our world---local and global.
My students are "social-media-orbiting, adventure-seeking, social-justice minded, environmentally-concerned, curiosity-driven, sometimes outspoken, sometimes brash but deep-hearted young people" who enjoy learning when they see it as relevant and engaging.
Some are extroverts; others are introverts. They are quick to let me know when they see something as unfair or unjust. They question me, disagree with me at times but are for the most part very respectful. They love a good debate or Paideia seminar full of pathos and logos. They are 21st century teenagers.
In my sophomore world literature courses, we look at a variety of texts through the lens of the roles we ALL play individually and collectively on a daily basis: victim, perpetrator, bystander and upstander or hero. We read Elie Wiesels' Holocaust memoir Night as part of an extensive unit that culminates in a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. Students research and look at other acts of genocide historical and contemporary as a launching pad to service learning. With the Syrian Refugee Crisis, my students research the roles different countries play and participate in an unofficial Model UN type hearing addressing the complex situation. With the release of Joukhadar's novel The Map of Salt and Stars, they have the opportunity to read a work that will scaffold what they know about the crisis with cartography, history, and cultural context at a much deeper level. When reading narratives based on historical genocides, it's very easy to lose sight of individuals, instead focusing on data and numbers.
Reading a novel based on two young girls' journeys, one 12th century and one in 2010, my students will see not only a loss of a "country" but rather the loss of culture that is one of the oldest in our world; a culture rich in arts, history, cartography, foodways, architecture, landscapes, economies and much more.
The intertwining narratives in Joukhadar's novel will help my students understand in a personal way that just as in the Jewish Holocaust, the contemporary Syrian crisis is losing cultural artifacts and history that is as ancient as our world is old. By studying the world map of Muslim cartographer Muhammed al-Idrisi, students will develop understanding of some of the varied and multiple contributions Muslims have made throughout history to cartography, arts, astronomy, geography and others.
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|The Map of Salt and Stars: A Novel • Amazon Business||$16.85||30||$505.50|
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