Lessons from Caribbean social studies


Travelers often obsess about change and modernization in the communities they visit (the phrase “it was so much better here 20 years ago” is a common refrain, even among travelers who weren’t around 20 years ago), but what they often overlook is the fact that their hosts have a stake in that change. Indeed, modernization brings benefits as well as problems, and the people who live in these host communities are naturally more qualified to comment on these changes than the travelers.

Recently, while visiting the island of Grenada, I bought a Caribbean children’s social studies book for my nephew Cedar. The book, which was about communities, touched on modernization in many forms — including how it has changed the way people travel. One picture in the book showed two different version of the same street — one in a village setting, with small shops and livestock, and another in a town setting, with cars, stoplights, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Students are encouraged to list the differences they see (one detail shows that the village street name is “Plantation Drive”; in the later picture, the name has been changed to “Mandela Street”) — not to judge one or the other as better, but to create discussion about identifying changes and how they affect the community.

I found this book an interesting insight into a how a place views itself, and I’ll have to keep an eye out for locally produced school materials as I travel in the future…

Posted by | Comments Off on Lessons from Caribbean social studies  | February 13, 2006
Category: General

Comments are closed.