If One Wants to Discuss Other Cultures…One Should First DO Other Cultures

I teach World Civilization at Big Walnut High School. It’s a dual enrollment class from Columbus State. It’s a wonderful class! We study Africa, Asia, and Mesoamerica. Hardly any DWEMs (dead white European males) are mentioned. Ironically, I’m a live white European male and I teach the course to largely white adolescent faces.

So…fostering global conversation is a primary goal. It’s good for them. It’s good for the planet! Our primary vehicle for worldy yakking is the Socratic circle.

Mrs. Sturtevant's worst nightmare

Mrs. Sturtevant’s worst nightmare

Here’s how we conduct our Socratic circles.

Spectacular global conversations materialize when students embrace diverse and sometimes, to American students at least, exotic paradigms.

Engaging in meaningful experiences is an outstanding method of procuring broader perspectives. I prompt my students to DO SOMETHING…then I have them blog about it. My students have been remarkably complementary of these activities, their blog posts have been magnificent, and their ensuing performances in Socratic circles have been epic!

Below, are links to five experiences that were instrumental in fostering profound discourse this semester:

Our first Socratic circle was on Chinese philosophy. Taoism is an enigma!

Taoism's Advertising Campaign

Taoism’s Advertising Campaign

I forced students out of the building and into the beautiful woods behind our school. It helped them grasp this incredibly elusive and slippery mindset:


We left China and then migrated to ancient India. Students were prompted to create comic strips characterizing their dharmas:


Then, we waded into the touchy subject of Islam. Students were required to create podcasts:


We experienced Buddhism by crafting mandalas. Instead of students taking them home and having mom stick them on the fridge with a magnet, we honored them in an ostentatious and memorable fashion. Curious? Please follow the link:


Rae Brennaman’s beautiful mandala


And finally, students embraced the intricate challenge of writing like Mayans:

Campbell Allen's Birthday

Campbell Allen’s Birthday


These experiences inspired my students. If you follow any of the links, you can also see links to the student blogs. You’ll find their names in the lower right hand corner of each page. Through these experiences, my kids became temporary residents of the cultures we studied. The Socratic circles that followed blossomed into impactful teachable events!

My book “You’ve Gotta Connect” is all about how teachers can forge strong relationships with students. You can also listen to me dialogue about bonding with young people on numerous podcasts.

Please follow me on Twitter @jamessturtevant

I also love doing professional development. If you’re interested, here’s my email: pjsturtevant@gmail.com