Title: Germs: Cultural Diffusion 204

Key Words: cultural diffusion

National Standard: 10 (characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics)

State Standard: 13 (nature and complexity of patterns of cultural diffusion)

Teaching Level: middle school

Introduction: Culture changes when something new is introduced. The agents of change are many and all cultures undergo change. In this lesson, students will be introduced to the many "germs" that could spread into a culture and cause change.

Objective: Students will identify, describe, and analyze the agents of cultural diffusion.

Materials: Pictures, slides, issues of National Geographic, or video clips that show remote cultures and scenes of daily life.
Pictures that show acculturation
Handout Scoring Guide to Performance of Skits on Acculturation

Procedure: Show photographs, slides, or posters of village life in an African village, s remote South Sea island nation, and/or a Himalayan mountain community. Ask students to imagine a TV being added to each setting. In how many ways do they think the village and the people will change?

Have students pair up to generate ideas and record them on a piece of paper in two columns: Village Changes and People Changes. Examples might include: Village Changes - the location of the place where the TV was put could gain importance, more traffic might occur, a small business might relocate there to sell snacks to the people, a new path or road might be built to get there...People Changes - Curiosity might draw people of different ages to sit together or stand together and converse about the new things they see, some might become dissatisfied with their present lifestyle and want to change, needs and wants might be created and frustration might occur, literacy might increase as people become interested in learning new things.

Introduce the terms: Cultural Diffusion - the spread of cultural ideas, and Acculturation - the process of accepting, borrowing, and exchanging cultural traits.

Give students a list of other agents of change, (germs), and ask them to think of an example of how each might cause change in a culture. The list could include: war, natural disaster, tourists, missionaries, disease, political unrest, improved health care, literacy, exchange students, Peace Corps, immigrants, technology or tools.

Have students organize into small groups to create brief skits in which a "germ", or agent of change, is introduced to a cultural group. Scene I describes how the germ initially affects the people and the place. Scene II visits the same people and place five years later. The changes featured need to show positive and negative effects. The people and the place need to be identified as well. Imagined facts and feelings should be incorporated. Skits should be two to three minutes in length. Props could be made.

Invite a few groups of students to perform their skits.

Follow up by asking students to give their opinions on any of the following statements: Change is inevitable. Change can be good and bad. Change is common in the world. A small change can have a big effect on a place and its people. Many kinds of things can cause change. Our culture has absorbed many changes.

Draw conclusions. Some examples are: People, goods, and ideas spread from one culture to another. Some cause small changes, others cause major changes.
People accept or reject change.
Changes in cultures have been happening ever since people have been on Earth.

Evaluation/Assessment: Use the Scoring Guide for Performance of Skits on Acculturation to evaluate student understanding of cultural diffusion.

Extension/Enrichment: Personalize the topic. Ask students to write about how computers have changed their lives and daily life in America. Include positive and negative aspects of the change.

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA.
Thank you,
The authors

Scoring Guide for Performance of Skits on Acculturation

Rubric for Grading Possible Points Achieved Points

Introduction to Scenes I and II (Narrator) ------------------- 3 -----------------

Group/Culture identified and described (Narrator)-------- 3-----------------

Place identified and described (Narrator)-----------------------3------------------

"Germ" identified----------------------------------------------------- 3------------------

Positive effects of change on people and place----------------3------------------

Negative effects of change on people and place---------------3------------------

Flow of thought -------------------------------------------------------- 3------------------

Message is clear---------------------------------------------------------- 3------------------

Clear diction -------------------------------------------------------------- 3------------------

Volume-------------------------------------------------------------------- 3------------------

Expression in voice-------------------------------------------------------3------------------

Body language shows good effort------------------------------------ 3------------------

Length of skit (2-3 minutes)---------------------------------------------3------------------

Props appropriate, easy to see-------------------------------------------3------------------

Total points------------------------------------------------------------------42------------------

38-42 = A
33-37 = B
28- 32 = C
23- 27 = D
0- 23 = E

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