Unit 5: Daily Life: Kinship, Marriage and Family

About this Unit:

Across the Arab world, kinship and familial association are cornerstones of society and the experience of every individual. Though each kin group functions in a unique way, there is a pervasive pattern of reliance on family networks regardless of religion, gender, ethnicity, or class. In Arab societies, any action or inaction reflects on the individual as well as their entire network of relatives. As surely as family networks will always provide for their members, the individual members also have a responsibility to prioritize their family’s well-being above other goals and obligations. This does not mean family members cannot have personal goals and obligations outside their family networks, merely that they are secondary to those that involve family. Most often, kinship works to open opportunities and increase the strength of individual voices for the advancement of the entire kin group. The concept of constantly weighing family needs when making decisions may seem restrictive to those unfamiliar with the system of strong kinship associations, yet the reality for most people is that the family serves as a source of comfort and safety; not restriction and obligation.

This unit explores concepts and structures of family in Arab societies from a variety of angles. Students will explore Jordanian customs and consider the values behind them and their relation to family. They will also hear from gay and lesbian Middle Easterners who reflect on their concepts of family and its impact on their coming-out processes. Students will read select short stories and poems and watch Ajami, a film in which the plot is fueled by character reactions to their families’ needs. In the final lesson of this unit, students will synthesize all of the lessons above to create an Arab kinship themed version of Chutes and Ladders that demonstrates the role of kinship in setting and realizing individual goals.

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Enduring Understandings:

  • Family is the central social and economic structure in Arab society and kinship stands at the root of social, economic and political decision-making.
  • Relations of kin serve as the primary affiliation, resource and responsibility for individuals in the Arab world.
  • The Arab family structure, extending well beyond the nuclear family, supports and protects its members by prioritizing family unity and well being above other obligations.
  • Decisions, actions and behaviors of individuals can have a real and critical impact on the family.

Curriculum Framing Questions:

  • What is the role and function of kinship in Arab culture?
  • What aspects of an individual’s identity determine their role in the family?
  • How do familial associations and networks increase and/or restrict an individual’s voice and agency?
  • What can we learn about the Arab world from the depiction of families in film and literature?


Curriculum Standards Information

Reading Informational Texts

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.

Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Speaking and Listening

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

History / Social Studies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3 Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Reading: Informational Texts

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Reading: Literature

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.2 Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors.)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

Speaking and Listening

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Writing

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

History / Social Studies

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.
Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied.
Standard 4.2: Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.


Lesson Overviews

Lesson 1: Family and Kinship in the Arab World

This lesson introduces the concept of kinship and the notion of the family as the central social and economic structure in Arab society.

Lesson 2: Family Support in the Arab World

Students continue to explore the centrality of family in Arab culture by watching the film I Exist (US, 2003).

Lesson 3: Traditional Women’s Roles in the Arab World

Students read Arabic fiction and explore the lives of those who do not fit into the traditional Arab family

Lesson 4: The Consequences of My Actions

Students explore the pressures of family obligation and the impact of those responsibilities on the lives of individuals.

Lesson 5: Family Games

Students articulate the obligations, benefits and repurcussions of Arab family by designing game of Chutes and Ladders.