- Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Uzbekistan
- Grades 9-12
- Language Arts & Literature, Social Studies & Geography
Students will closely examine an author's philosophical look at life through superficially mundane, but ultimately meaningful, anecdotes he describes as a teacher in Uzbekistan.
After analyzing the letters, students should be able
- To closely analyze a literary passage in order to identify, then practice using, similes, allegory, and other types of symbolism in writing.
- To describe the climate and cultural aspects of life in Uzbekistan.
- A Year by Jordan Earl (find link above).
- Photocopies of the stories for the whole class
1. Have students read Jordan Earl's essay "A Year," and use the following questions as a guide for classroom discussion.
2. The author's description of autumn is a mere three and a half lines. Ask students to examine that passage, think about it, and make notes about all that they see transpiring. Have them share their observations in class discussion. What is the author acknowledging and pointing out? [One possible answer: Transition is occurring—the falling of leaves marks the end of summer and the beginning of a new season; and students starting back to school are writing down their goals and ambitions—a new beginning. The students seem to be somewhat unambitious, moving without vigor, but the teacher has vision, hope, resolve to move ahead.]
3. Ask students to study the other three seasons to see what the author has focused on to capture the mood of the season. In some cases, it will be obvious (temperature, color); in others, it will involve the kind of activities or thoughts that seem to go with the season. [Winter: cold, dark; students are quiet, contrary, reticent; Jordan dreams of Florida and flowers. Spring: rain, blossoms, grass, pollen; students talk of love, of family, of the future (and of hope); outdoor activities. Summer: vacation, heat, brightness.]
Have students write a synopsis of the seasons, focusing on characteristics of their choice to capture the mood, the appearance, the feelings of the different seasons—possibly as a homework assignment. In class discussion students can share their synopses, and compare them with Jordan Earl's. What similarities can they see in their descriptions? What differences?
4. What is the author getting at in the last two lines, where he writes: "Occasionally, stopping midstep at an intersection: How quickly time passes. How far we have come. How little things change?" [He acknowledges the contrast between time fleeting by and events being ordinary—and how things change yet remain similar.]
Frameworks & Standards
- Despite differences in background, people may get along because they share important values that can transcend their differences.
- It’s important to grasp opportunities and make the most of every day.
- What values do people share that transcend their cultural differences?
- What can we do to keep ourselves open to inspiration and appreciate beauty?
- What factors in our lives seem to make time pass by quickly? What can we do to try to make moments memorable?
English Standards: 1, 2, 3, 6 (see page 131) Social Studies Standards I, IV, IX (see page 132) National Geography Standards 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, (see page 133)