Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remembering Mandela

Madiba.  Rolihlahla.  Nelson Mandela.  His life, legacy and the world wide vigil in his honor has captivated me for the past week.  I’ve paused for a week between teaching Things Fall Apart and Hamlet in British Literature to ensure my students realize how historic these days are for South Africa and the world.  Despite varying degrees of prior knowledge, many of them seem captivated along with me. 

So, what is there to teach?  There is the obvious.  There is the history of apartheid and his own personal biography.  More than that, though, are the lessons that he teaches, even posthumously through his words and example.  Here are a list of the first five that come to mind:

  1.       Don’t ever quite, even when you feel trapped, alone or condemned.  He puts it this way: "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."
  2.       Nothing is impossible.  Nothing.  In his own words, “It seems impossible until it’s done.”
  3.        We are all connected and ought to love one another.  If we can be taught to hate each other, we can learn to love each other as well.  He once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
  4.        We were born to reflect greatness and should not shrink from that responsibility.  During his inauguration speech he quoted Return to Love when he said, “We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”
  5.        We are not defined by where we were born or where life takes us, but our ability to keep on standing despite being knocked down at times.  In Madiba’s words: "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

How do we teach this?  Here is a tic tac toe board you can use to teach your students more about him and the principles he stood for.

Read his online biography and create a timeline.

Create a collage about one of his life’s themes.  Include at least two quotes and five images from his life  and/or country’s history that illustrates the theme.

Write a eulogy for him.

Read excerpts from some of  his speeches and write a reflection on which of his messages you believe teaches the most important lesson.

Design a memorial for him.

Read some of his most famous quotes.  Pick your five favorite and write them into a found poem.

Read about his political career 

Read Invictus (his favorite poem) and Return to Love (a passage he read at his inauguration) and put one of them to song.  Perform it.

Write a letter of condolence to his family.

I hope you find this helpful.  If you have any other ideas, please let us know!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...