Bringing Pakistan to life

How can a sixth grader be expected to empathize with a politician in far-away Pakistan? Start with a quality source (an article from this week’s New York Times Magazine works) and use Google Earth so that students can visualize the estate on which the politician, Imran Khan, lives.

Once students see that he lives on a hilly suburb overlooking Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, they might come up with all sorts of questions — who else lives in that neighborhood? Why is an article about Pakistan’s politics such a big deal? Who cares about Pakistan? Oh, Pakistan is the Islamic world’s only declared nuclear weapons state? Hmmm…

The following video shows how we might approach this article at TLC middle school:

The video is 10 minutes long, but it takes a little time to get a sense of how a morning might work at TLC middle school. This article, which would take several days to unpack, would allow students to begin to empathize with Imran Khan and with Pakistan, by using a combination of Wikipedia, Wikimedia, and Google Earth.

One of the key points from the video is that one of the under-utilized aspects of Wikipedia articles is the last part of the article, where useful references are often listed.

In this case, reference #5 from the references section of a Wikipedia article about the town in which Khan lives takes us to an interactive map of Imran Khan’s estate.

Also, as noted in the video, a great way to empathize with Imran Khan would be to learn how to play cricket for a few days during our gym time (which we will call “Sports & Physical Activities from Around the World”).

For more context on a typical day at TLC middle school, see this earlier post.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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