Lesson 1: Family and Kinship in the Arab World

Lesson Information

About this Lesson:

This lesson introduces the concept of kinship and the notion of the family as the central social and economic structure in Arab society. Family (broadly conceived) serves as the fabric of society in the Arab world and binds individuals to a set of responsibilities and obligations; similarly, it provides a network of social and economic support and protection. In this lesson, students read selected texts by Ahmad Abazan, that explore various traditions and customs in the Arab world to demonstrate the role of family in the region. Diwan Baladna, by Abazan, focuses on the country of Jordan; selections in this curriculum highlight customs practiced widely in the Arab world.

Time

50 minutes

In this lesson, students will:

  •  read and discuss selections from Diwan Baladna by Ahmad Azaban and Azaban’s blog.

Key Terms:

  • Jaha: Jaha are the heads and leaders of the village or any family who are responsible for settling any disputes or conflict which arises amongst the people.
  • Kinship: Family connection by blood, marriage or adoption.  The web of a kin network reaches far and wide and includes anyone remotely related. In this sense, an Arab family can have thousands of members.
  • Nuclear Family:  The immediate family including parents and children.


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.

 

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • What is the role and function of family 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?

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • compare and contrast their family experience with that of a typical Arab family.
  • connect customs and traditions to family values.
  • analyze and discuss excerpts from Diwan Baladna by Ahmad Azban.

Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning:

  • Discuss concepts and themes from Diwan Baladna.


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.

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.9-10.2 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.

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.

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.

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.

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices 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

Implementation

Materials Needed in Class:

The Role of Family Homework Assignment

Arab Society: Family Life,” by Ahmad Abazan
Diwan Baladna

Implementation Overview:

Click here to download PDF version

Before Class:

1.

Assign students to complete the Role of Family Homework Assignment, a one to two page response paper reflecting on the role of family in their life.

In Class:

1.

Begin with a brief discussion of the assignment students completed the night before. Ask students to share their reflections and thoughts.

2.

Explain to the class that they will be exploring the concepts of family and kinship in the Arab world. Distribute “Arab Society: Family Life,” by Ahmad Azaban, and ask students to read silently. Allow time for students to share their thoughts and reactions to the reading. Ask them to compare what they read to their own family structures.

3.

Divide students into small groups and give each group a different passage from Diwan Baladna, by Ahmad Azaban. Explain that each passage discusses an Arab custom which highlights different ways in which Arab families function. Instruct each group to read the passages, discuss and answer the questions at the bottom of the page:

  • What does this text tell you about the role of family and importance of kinship in the Arab world?
  • Is there any Arabic vocabulary in this text? What does it mean? Why is there a special word in Arabic for that?
  • Are there any actions, motions, or customs that are of particular importance? What are they and why are they important?

4.

Come back together and ask students to respond to the unit questions below according to what they have read and discussed. You may want to project the questions on the board:

  • What is the role and function of family 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 look for in the depiction of families in film and literature that will help us better understand the information from today?

As students answer, remind them to incorporate a brief summary of the passage they read so the rest of the class understands.

5.

End the discussion by asking students to consider major themes that emerged from the conversation and any questions they may have.

  • What questions about Arab families do you still have?
  • What should you look for as you continue to learn about families in this unit?

Supplemental Resources

Shadya (2007): This episode of Independent Lens tells the story of Shadya, a world champion in Karate, a feminist in a male-dominated culture, and a Muslim Arab living in Israel. Click here for the ITVs lesson plans