Making Connections

I am going back to Spain this summer.

While it is true that I have fallen in love with Spain, this visit will find me pursuing curriculum. In my visits to Madrid I have been fascinated by the collision of the three major monotheistic faiths in Spain, and my attention has been turned to Ferdinand and Isabella, royal cousins who with their marriage brought so much human pain and suffering into the world as they united Castile and Aragon in the last years of the 15th century.

So, I’m not sure what this will all look like, but here are the things that I hear humming in some weird curricular harmony:

  • In 1492, with the conquest of Granada, F & I continued to seek religious homogeneity in Spain – so out went the Moors (Muslims) and Jews.
  • The Spanish colonization from 1493 to 1533 of Central and South America and the West Indies.  We study this in 7th grade. Why push out across the ocean? What kept them from Africa (just a stone’s throw away)?
  • We learn Spanish in 7th grade, as it is spoken in Latin America, not in Europe.
  • We study the three major monotheistic faiths in the seventh grade. What can I bring back from Granada and Cordoba?
  • In seventh grade math we look at number theory and patterns along with tessellations as they approach Algebra.   Medieval Islamic mathematicians codified much of algebra and the art of Moorish Spain is patterns and patterns and patterns.
  • What are the folk tales from Southern Spain, especially those from the Moorish traditions?  I know lots of Persian stories and stories from the midrashic and folk traditions of the Jewish diaspora.  How do they all fit together?

I am sure that my travels will raise as many questions as they answer, but I know that I will not look at the work that we are doing in seventh grade as individual isolated components of study any longer.

I don’t know what this will mean for next year. I know that I have to go there. I know that at times I will be overwhelmed. I am certain that I will discover things about myself that I have not yet explored (remember – I have laundry anxiety). I know that this will challenge me, taking me to a new place as a learner.  I will be on my own, studying unfamiliar material, in a language that I barely understand.  If I can put it together into something that forms my own pattern, well that will be astonishing.

Image is of the Mezquita Cordoba by Robert Venturini

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Phiala says:

    The Reconquista is fascinating from a number of angles. And Islamic mathematicians? Awesome!

    I haven’t been to Spain in many years, and am jealous of your trip. But when I was there it snowed on the Alhambra: bet you don’t see that. 🙂

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I am very excited to be going, and I am worried about the heat (and not snow although with the amount of cold/snow we have had this year – who knows?)

      I’m completely fascinated by the Reconquista – and the art, and the food, and the language, and….

      When we were in Toledo it was so interesting to see the Muslim artisans’ work in the synagogue and even the cathedral (subversive-fabulous). I can hardly wait to get there.

  2. Steve Janesick says:

    Although it sounds like there will be little time to spare, perhaps you could also discover why the Japanese are so enamored with Flamenco Dancing. I’ve heard current dancers are treated like rock stars when they visit Japan. If nothing else, it would give you a good excuse to go see some fantastic Flamenco.

    Laundry in Spain does seem to be a topic of note. We were in Torremolinos a decade ago while spending two weeks touring southern Spain. We were staying in a large high rise Hotel where the rooms had balconies and it was commonplace to hang laundry out on the railings to dry. We were sipping drinks on our balcony while watching the sunset one evening when there was a sudden gust of wind and a small cry for help. I looked over and up a few flights to see some underwear drifting slowly down to me and the somewhat embarrassed face of one of our fellow tour group participants who could say little more than “oops”. I caught it and we all had a laugh as we had lost a towel or two over the balcony railing earlier that week. Sometimes you could watch an article bounce from balcony to balcony as it descended over the course of time. Every evening just before dinner, there would be a small parade of people in the courtyard below retrieving lost items.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I will endeavor to learn what I can about Flamenco and the Japanese fascination with it. Is that the same as the French and Jerry Lewis?

      And I swear I was going to drop laundry down five stories, but I have NO idea where I might have gone to retrieve it!

  3. Jenny says:

    The Mezaquita in Cordoba is one of my all time favorite places on earth. I’m hoping to get back to Spain with my husband and children in a couple of summers.

    Have a wonderful summer. I hope you’ll blog your process during your travels.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I promise to blog my process this summer while I am in Spain and while I wrestle with how to translate it into meaningful connections for my students. I am so excited to be going back; Madrid is a wonderful city, and I am anxious to see Cordoba and Granada.

      I am going back to CMK this summer in hopes of a week to think about how this constructs into something that has shape and meaning. Right now it is a fuzzy mass of ideas, a whole lot of potential.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope that your spring and summer are wonderful!

  4. alan tabor says:

    I’m totally jealous. I’d love to visit Cordoba for precisely the reasons you mention. The religious homogenization of Spain, the Inquisition, etc, etc, seems like a major tipping point in Western culture and not a good one, either. I’m still entertaining vague hopes of trying to meet up but it’s probably not going to happen.

    See you at the Abby/Jon event!

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I’ll go back with you, any time! I’m stoked that I have this grant from school that allows me to travel and study on my own.
      And yes, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”
      Ferdinand and Isabella: they seem so nice in the way we have them portrayed in our History texts – funding Christopher Columbus when no one else would, building cathedrals – but the change in the world that their marriage brought about still rattles.

      See you at the Abby/Pirc nuptials – and of course the reunion (yes?)!!

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