Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Why is Shakespeare necessary?

Recently we finished our final unit of ENG 3U on Shakespeare's Macbeth. This brought the question to my mind "why is Shakespeare necessary to learn in class and how will this impact me in the future?"

Personally I found this unit challenging and difficult to understand. Throughout my high school years I have never really enjoyed reading any of Shakespeare's plays. I feel they were a good resource for learning during their time period, but in today's society they are frustrating and don't have as much impact on students. The messages displayed in the plays are relevant but I think there are better ways to teach teenagers these values using more current examples. Macbeth was incredibly hard to translate and I don't feel it would make a difference in a student if they ever read this play.

However when we used twitter as a medium it helped make the learning less painful and keep students on task somewhat. But I still feel it is something all English classes could do without.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

ISU Check #2 Cultural Identifers

     My ISU novel Secret Daughter written by shilpi somaya gowda explores many different cultural identifiers. The most reoccurring ones include family, gender and codes, customs and rules.

     The author describes family in India as very important in order to live a good life. She uses the bonds between families to show that strong families can get through anything if they stick together. The American couple Kris and Somer and their daughter Asha go through some rough times throughout the novel,(example Asha leaves them, Somer and Kris separate) but in the end because they are a family and realize all they are ever going to have is each other they get though it. They discover the best way to mend broken hearts is to give each other time and space. Also when Asha goes to India she realizes just how large her fathers family is,she learns more about her heritage and begins to understand herself. She learns that even if there is no biological connection between her and her parents they will still do anything for her because they love her.

    The biggest cultural identifier in this novel is gender. Gender plays a huge role in India when it comes to birth rates. Since 1991 the united nations has reported that the birth rate for girls in India has declined steadily which causes an increasing gap between girls and boys. The increase of sex-selective abortions in India causes a struggle for women's rights. This happens every day in India and in this novel Kavita gives birth to 2 baby girls, which she is not allowed due to the fact her husband Jasu wants a boy. This forces Kavita to give up baby girl #2 to an orphanage so her husband cannot dispose of her like he did to her first born. Some baby girls aren't so fortunate and this novel does a great job of raising this world wide issue of Gendercide, so that everyone can be aware and put a stop to it.

    Another cultural identifier gowda uses is codes, customs and rules. She describes the poverty in India and how most people don't have a choice but to be poor because they are born into it. It is an awful vicious cycle that takes many generations of hard work to break out of. The strength of human spirit and courage is what it takes. In this novel it is Jasu and Kavita who break the cycle and get out of the slums with their son Vijay. It takes them many years but Jasu finally becomes a foreman in the factory and Kavita a servant. This helps them settle their debt and they are finally able to move into a clean apartment with their own bedroom.

    shilpi somaya gowda does an excellent job creating all of these cultural identifiers in one novel about cross-cultural marriage and adoption. She makes great points that informed me as the reader of the Indian Culture.