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