teacher's corner foods and melodies may vary. given What's the Big Idea?
such diversity, teachers at the Jcc had to determine how we could draw from Making Cultural Practices Meaningful
the lives of the children in a way that by Peretz Hirshbein
would represent the broad spectrum of Jewish expression in the families we s most early childhood edu-
identify the challenges that caused this serve, as well as the diversity among cators know, bringing the
kind of disconnect between the way we our non-Jewish families.
different cultures of our
implemented the "regular" curriculum culture and religion are often tied children and their families into the
using active learning and the way we together, and it is important for early preschool setting supports children's
delivered the "cultural" curriculum, childhood educators to be able to pull social learning and enriches our
related to Jewish beliefs and practices. apart the threads that hold them togeth- programs. We encourage young chil-
While the challenges the Jcc has er. culture can be informed by religion, dren to recognize and appreciate the
identified might seem specific to our but cultures incorporate far more than a similarities and differences in others
center, programs in a variety of settings belief system. Looking at cultural tradi- and to appreciate the diversity in the
face similar issues when introducing cul- tions rather than religious beliefs directs social world of the classroom. In an
tural issues to their preschool children. the focus onto concrete practices that increasingly complex and diverse
even in the most apparently "homoge- children can identify with rather than society, these learning goals have
neous" programs (e.g., children are of abstract beliefs that have little meaning become even more important and,
the same ethnicity or speak the same to them. in addition, it allows for draw- as a result, the early childhood field
language), similarities and differences ing from the other cultures present in has now established Social Studies
exist, including those related to gender, the program without challenging or as a distinct curriculum content area.
family structure, religion, countries of excluding anyone's system of beliefs.
In line with these recommendations,
origin, abilities and disabilities, and many the new HighScope Preschool Curric-
other aspects of the children's back- ulum has six key developmental indi-
grounds. it is important that as educators Integrating culture
cators (KDIs) in its Social Studies
we support children's understanding that and values into the
content area. Teachers can explore
people have diverse characteristics, classroom in a way that
several of these KDIs, particularly
interests, and abilities (Kdi 53). this Diversity (KDI 53), Geography (KDI
challenge faces all teachers who hope is meaningful to children
56), and History (KDI 57), by bring-
to reflect children's lives in their class- is a process that requires
ing culturally specific activities into
rooms. here's how we incorporated the careful planning and
the classroom.
ingredients of active learning to engage as many well-intentioned educators children in culturally specific activities know, however, it is sometimes chal- to ensure that these experiences are lenging to address diversity in our meaningful to them. for teachers to create experiences classrooms in ways that are meaningful The Challenges of Representing
that reflect cultures that are different to the children. too often, we take a from their own is challenging indeed. it "tourist approach" to teaching children While the Jcc program operates is important for teachers to learn about about other cultures, focusing on isolat- under the auspices of a Jewish institu- the different cultures of the children in ed (and sometimes "stereotypical") tion, families of all backgrounds are their classrooms. Just as children need occasions, artifacts, or achievements. welcome. so, children in the program authentic experiences to make their as we reflected on this issue at the come from both Jewish and non-Jewish learning meaningful, so do teachers as Jewish community center (Jcc) in backgrounds. furthermore, the Jewish adult learners. administrators can sup- ann arbor, michigan, for example, we families represent a broad spectrum of port their teachers in this process by realized that our approach to integrating observances, beliefs, and practices. for a arranging for them to participate in Jewish culture into the curriculum tend- Jewish program, a high degree of hetero- cultural activities as adults. cultural ed to be teacher-directed and oriented geneity exists among families enrolled. leaders of local communities, such as around the creation of "products" (e. g., these families differ greatly in their clergy, and board members of commu- a hanukkah menorah). in other words, beliefs about the nature of god and the nity centers and houses of worship can our approach to culture had the feeling literal meaning of sacred texts. in addi- help provide these very productive of being "dropped in" to the curriculum tion, Jewish families from different experiences. Parents can also help to during group times with little connection parts of the world have differences in the provide these experiences. at the Jcc, to the every day life of the classroom. way they celebrate holidays. traditional where only a small proportion of the We decided it would be necessary to 18 ReSource Spring 2013

teaching staff has a Jewish background, a process that requires careful planning parents have invited teachers to partici- and relationship building. first, teachers Parents may not feel like experts on pate in their home celebrations, and over need to think about the "big ideas" con- their own cultures (for example, they the years the directors of the program nected to a celebration, holiday, or cul- may not know the origins or reasons have held authentic shabbat dinners and tural practice and how to make this idea behind many practices), so it is critical a Passover seder for the whole staff. as concrete and meaningful to young chil- that teachers assure them that their a result, teachers have a far more authen- dren. What is the point? What meaning- contributions are nevertheless valuable. tic understanding of these practices. ful idea should children take from the involving families in planning and another challenge we faced had to do experience? the "big idea" related to executing celebrations can help parents with the expectations of the parent body. hanukkah, for example, is freedom. the understand their value to the teachers. Parents at the Jcc had already been celebration of hanukkah serves as a family programs such as potluck meals exposed to highscope's active learning memory of a time when Jews had to fight and weekend get-togethers build trust approach that focused more on "process" for their freedom to choose how to live between teachers and parents, allowing and less on "product" (and families were their lives and worship. While freedom parents to feel like partners when they overwhelmingly supportive of this kind is a rather abstract concept for young share their cultural traditions with the of approach). they understood the use children, those attending highscope pro- of open-ended and found materials, and grams understand the concrete meaning the importance of choice in the way that of choice. they get to choose every day children used these materials. however, what they will do and how they will The "big ideas"
there were different expectations when express themselves. the lesser known connected to cultural
it came to the role of cultural education. Jewish holiday of tu B'shevat originat- practices serve as a
Parents looked for "products" as evi- ed with ancient strictures on when fruit dence of their children's learning in the could be harvested from trees. in its frame for teachers as
realm of Jewish culture. for example, at modern form it celebrates the "birthday they plan activities to
hanukkah time, they looked forward to of the trees"; the associated "big idea" introduce these practices
their children bringing home menorahs, is responsible stewardship of the natural to their children.
the candelabrum used to celebrate the world. this "big idea" provides a cultur- holiday. the challenge here was to help ally Jewish frame for ideas about envi- parents find something different to ronmentalism. in highscope programs, inviting families to share meaningful appreciate about their children's learning children learn about ecology by taking objects, stories, and pictures that help to around holidays and to help teachers hands-on responsibility for their class- illustrate aspects of their culture brings find a way to make creating a product room and the outside their cultural life into the classroom. the meaningful and process-oriented.
play area, especially parents of peers are always of interest to What's the "Big Idea"?
the children in a classroom. sharing by a animals that live integrating culture and values parent of a child known to the other chil- in these environ- into the classroom in a way that dren serves to increase interest in what- ments. these big is meaningful to children is ever the parent is sharing, providing the ideas — together intrinsic motivation that is so important with an awareness to active learning. this sharing also of how to make them introduces something authentic, whether understandable to young it is a material or a story, into the class- children — serve as a frame for room. a father sharing the story of how teachers as they plan activities his family obtained a set of shabbat to introduce a cultural prac- candlesticks paired with the opportunity tice to their students. for children to handle those candlesticks increases meaning. Just as the use of real pots and pans in a house area adds more meaning to children's play, the introduc- Just as the use of real tion of an authentic cultural material or pots and pans in the house story adds meaning to a cultural activity. area adds more meaning Authentic Materials
to children's play, the use another ingredient in this process, of authentic cultural closely related to the first, is the intro- materials adds meaning to cultural activities. continued on page 22 ReSource Spring 2013 19

What's the Big idea? continued from page 19 (the lemon-like etrog for the Jewish duction of more authentic materials in holiday of sukkot; pine wreaths at the classroom. teachers at the Jcc bring christmas). making a sensory connec- many different kinds of menorahs and tion provides yet another way for a child a large selection of dreidles (four-sided to create a permanent impression of a spinning tops) into the classroom during cultural activity. hanukkah. each side of the dreidle has once the groundwork has been laid a hebrew letter with a special meaning, with these ingredients, it is possible to which children might connect to their reimagine many culturally specific experience learning english letters. at activities in ways that now will have Passover, teachers might introduce a meaning. Before the Jcc introduced variety of seder plates into the class- Sensory connections — the smell and texture of pine active learning to the cultural activities needles, for instance — help to create a concrete room. the plates are divided into areas related to hanukkah, teachers might and permanent impression of a cultural experience that hold the various foods associated for children. have provided children with materials with the Passover story, again something for creating a hanukkah menorah. since concrete the children can connect to repetition allows children to use these the children would have had no context their own experiences sorting and rep- stories in their play. the story of Purim, for this activity, the teacher would pro- resenting objects and events. Variety for example, is highly compelling to vide an example, and all the menorahs offers a chance to notice differences and young children. it involves a King, a would have looked the same. now, chil- express preferences. it also tells children search for a Queen, heroes, and a villain. dren are presented with a variety of that there are many ways to approach a the narrative arc of the Purim story in materials and asked "how can you use particular kind of object. and, of course, many ways resembles traditional fairy these materials to make a menorah?" the greater the variety of materials, the tales, which makes it very familiar to now that the groundwork has been laid more opportunities children have to children. through stories, children can for such an activity, children have had explore and manipulate these objects in grapple with the big ideas that teachers the experience of manipulating a variety interesting ways. hope to explore. Using storytelling tech- of menorahs and have a concrete under- niques that get children involved in the standing of the meaning of the menorah story, such as using puppets or providing through extensive experience with the Narratives have the
costumes so children can act out what the hanukkah story. they also have seen power to capture the
teacher is telling, help children integrate and touched the menorahs of some of stories into their play in an even more their peers' families, and have even imagination of children,
meaningful way. it allows them to add explored the properties of fire and light and their repetition al ows
language, props, and other story ele- when experiencing ways to light differ- children to remember
ments, thus making the narrative their ent kinds of menorahs (candles, small these stories and use
own. Use of stories helps to encourage bulbs). at the Jcc, the result of this the language from children that is a key process has resulted in a tremendous them in their play.
component of active learning.
amount of creative expression as the children create menorahs that reflect Engaging the Senses
their own understanding of the object. finally, no cultural experience is Within any cultural community, integrating culturally specific activi- complete without thinking about sensory stories are critical for the passing down ties into the classroom takes time: time connections. are there foods that go of traditions and identity. the teacher's to gather real materials, time to learn with a particular celebration? how can ability to integrate culture into the and tell stories, time to welcome parents children be involved in preparing these classroom will be greatly increased with and other guests into the classroom. foods? What kind of smells and tastes the accompaniment of these stories. to taking this time is worthwhile, as the are present? the smell of frying potato better understand the topic and effective- activities that result can have great pancakes at hanukkah creates an unfor- ly present it to children in a way they meaning to children and expand our gettable link to the holiday. a parent can understand, teachers can prepare by adult appreciation of diverse cultures sharing the making of tortillas at cinco reading the "adult" version of these nar- and traditions as well. de mayo, when children can smell the ratives, which allows them to make the corn meal and feel the dough as it is Peretz Hirshbein is the Associate
story their own and find connections pressed into a circle creates powerful Early Childhood Director at the
with their own beliefs and practices. impressions. many holidays are also Jewish Community Center of Greater
narratives have the power to capture associated with certain plants, with their Ann Arbor in Michigan.
the imagination of children, and their distinctive colors, textures, and smells 22 ReSource Spring 2013



BIOSTAT® CultiBag RM Culturing Convenience batch, serum free cultivation of CHOXM 111 suspension cells in the BIOSTATCultiBag RM 20 turning science into solutions Dipl. Ing. Irina Bauer*, Prof. Dr. Regine Eibl*, Generally, the inoculum for the bioreactor Dr. Thorsten Adams** In this application note, we describe a is prepared by pooling T-flasks. The pre- protocol for the propagation of the model

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