Where and when do you read? Do you only use digital platforms and read news, social media feeds and fiction online? Or do you sometimes pick up an actual newspaper or book to read? And how long does it last until you get distracted? By your thoughts, by something popping up on you cell phone screen, or by actual people, or real-life events?
Did you know that research shows that onscreen reading makes us more impatient? And that this Guardian article draws upon the same research, and adds a number of other studies from across the world to prove its point? The first task for you in today’s lesson is to read these two articles, the second longer than the first, and track your own reactions. As the first challenges you overtly to react a certain way, the second challenges you more covertly. How do you respond? Monitor your reactions and take notes along the way.
The second task this lesson is to read two more articles, one from BBC and one from UC Berkeley. They both encourage you to read, but for different purposes and within different genres, thus also presenting different strategies. Take notes, depending on your previous experience with study techniques. Did you learn anything new from reading these articles? Or do you already employ these strategies on a daily basis?
But the main question for today is: how did you do when asked to read almost an hour in one sitting?
Mohsin Hamid’s captivating novel from 2007 takes us on a journey to Pakistan, the USA, Greece and the Philippines. Through the eyes of the main character Changez, we learn about his past and present life in addition to real-life events.
This week you should write a brief blog entry about the novel. In your blog post, write about what you think of the novel so far. Do you like it or not, and does it seem realistic? Why? Why not? Explain your viewpoints.In addition, you should write a brief summary of what has happened so far.
The English-speaking world is huge…we often limit ourselves to studying the USA, Great Britain, and maybe Canada and Australia… During the next couple of weeks we are going to take a look at English-speaking countries outside of these main areas. Pick a country where English is an official language.
- Find out about the variety of English spoken here, and how it differs from standard English in pronunciation and vocabulary. Why is English an official language in this country (look at history)?
- Present an author and a literary text from this country. This could be a novel, a short story or a poem, written in the English language. What is it about, and is there a message the author is trying to get across? How is this message carried across/the story told (literary techniques)? Main themes?
- Present a contemporary issue from this country. This could be something you find in the news (remember that all English-speaking countries have their own English-speaking news media, so CNN and BBC should not be your only sources here…) or something you have heard about being a challenge/problem in this country.
You can work individually or in pairs. Present your findings on your blog and be ready to share them with the rest of the class. Use pictures and statistics, or add a video or sound file, but make sure you only use material that you are allowed to share and refer to where you have taken it from.
“My Son the Fanatic” is a short story written in 1997 by Hanif Kureishi about a father and a son living in London, and struggling to adapt. The father left Pakistan and loves England, he wants to become as English as possible, because “you can do almost anything here.” The son has never been outside England, but still struggles to find his place in the English society, and is looking for something else, going back to the culture and faith of his ancestors, and becoming more and more angry with the society he sees around himself – the society his father is so in love with.
“Free for All” is a short story written by Moin Ashraf in 1999. This story too depicts a father and a son, this time in the US, the father doing everything “right” to become an upright and successful man in his new country, and being frustrated at seeing his son leaving the ideals of his own country and tradition. It is a culture clash, between a son who has grown up American, and a father who still looks back to and values of his Pakistani homeland.
Write a blog post where you EITHER compare these two stories in terms of father-son relationships and the question of identity and belonging, OR discuss what these two stories say about being an immigrant, and raising a family in a different culture. What are these two stories saying about multiculturalism?
Write a blog post of your impressions so far of the main character(s) in the novel you are reading. What do you know about this person and how do you know this – through dialogue, descriptions or in other ways? What about their relationship to other characters you have been introduced to? Write 2-3 paragraphs by Monday, January 28.
As we are finishing The Kite Runner, the main character has spent many years both in his homeland and as an immigrant in the US. Through Amir we are introduced to both an Afghanistan before and under Soviet rule, and then finally, we get a glimpse of a devastated country under the Taliban.
How did the descriptions of Afghanistan agree with or differ with the ideas and impressions you already had of this country?
What cultural differences become evident in the parts set in the US?
How easy is it for Afghans to settle and find their place in the US?
Write a ONE paragraph blog post answering these questions.
Write a blog post where you answer the questions below. Use quotations from the book to underline your statements.
- What kind of resettlement process did Baba and Amir go through when coming to the US? Did any other characters have to go through similar processes?
- What did Rahim Khan mean when he told Amir “there is a way to be good again”? Is it important for Amir to “be good again?” Are we always able to reconcile with past mistakes or past human rights abuses? Does it matter if we do? Why/why not?
- Baba says to Amir: “there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft… When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to her husband, his children’s right to their father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth… There is no act more wretched than stealing.” Do you agree with Baba? Why/why not? Can you think of other rights that can be violated by stealing?
- In the sene where Assef attacks Hassan – what rights did he steal from Hassan?
- Assed says: “Afghanistan is the land of Pashtuns. It always has been, always will be. We are the true Afghans, the pure Afghans, no this Flat-Nose here. His people pollute our homeland, our watan. They dirty our blood. … Afghanistan for Pashtuns, I say.” Do you recognize Assef’s attitude from people in the media, people from history etc? Who? Can Assef’s attitude lead to human rights issues, such as hate crime? How?
- Baba says to Amir: “I grew up with Ali. My father took him in, loved him like his own son. Forty years Ali’s been with my family.” Yet Ali is not treated like Baba’s brother, but rather his servant. Neither Ali nor Hassed can read or write, and they eat Baba and Amir’s leftovers. Why do you think that is? How can it change? What responsibiliy do we have to try and break such norms, and how can we do that?