Friday, August 30, 2013

Ancient Romans and I.B.

Our Latin 5/6, or third-year, class recently completed a project in which they were given a list of famous Romans.  Each student picked one and presented a poster that included the person's name, life dates, and the I.B. Learner Profile  that he or she thought best fit that person.  After all thirty-three students presented, several things became cleaer.

First, our students have a great way of looking at history.  Some of the profiles they picked were obvious.  The student who chose Cicero said he was a communicator, and the person who chose Cato said he was principled.  Others were not so obvious.  The person who chose Sulla also said he was principled, on the grounds that he had a clear vision for what Roman morality was supposed to be.  Students who picked the same person did not necessarily use the same profile.  As you can see from the picture, one student saw Cloelia as a thinker, but another saw her as a risk taker.

An interesting feature of this project was that the thirty-three students who presented on twenty-two different Romans overwhelmingly chose the risk-taker profile for their person of choice.  After the students had finished their presentations, I asked what they thought this said about the Romans.  There many good responses, including that the reason these particular Romans was famous was because they needed to take risks to achieve their fame.  Then I asked the students whether it could be possible that the tendency to see the Romans as risk-takers was more rooted in our own culture's celebration of this trait.  Unlike the ancients, who saw community identity as more important than individual indentity, Americans tend to value individuality and daring, bold action.  Unfortunately, the bell rang just as I asked that question, so we will have to see where that discussion takes us in the days ahead.

Finally, I am impressed with how good these posters look!  Not only did our students present great material, they did so in an attractive and compelling way.  I am genuinely looking forward to grading these projects!

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