Culture and Clans – TMSE

WEEK 1: Cultures and Clans

By Annakate Faulk

Last week we started our outreach program at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School. This semester I and fellow UA students are working with an awesome group of third grade students whom we will be teaching about the anthropology of West Africa. Our first day went great! We were welcomed to the school by all of the students who had assembled in the gymnasium, I was definitely surprised by how many different outreach groups there were involved with the program. Once each of the outreach classes were dismissed we moved into our home for the semester, Mr. Little’s classroom. Each of the students had the opportunity to tell us why they had chosen to take the anthropology course, with the majority response being “because we get to eat bugs!” I do have to admit, I was glad to see the students so excited about this, because I was a little bit nervous.

The topic for this past week’s lesson was clans and their respective cultures. A clan is a group of individuals who identify with one another based on a commonly shared ancestor. As well as sharing this common ancestor, members of a clan follow a generalized set of customs and rules which are designated by their shared culture.

Once I had explained what these things were to the class, we broke up the students into groups of three and four which would become their clans. Each clan also included one or two members who were fellow anthropology students from UA.

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The students were then able to make some of the important choices regarding their clans such as their name, the ancestor which they all shared and things such as whether or not they would have a set leader or choose to be an egalitarian group.

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Each of the groups seemed to really enjoy the process of making these decisions and after a little bit of guidance from the UA students the choices were made with ease {mostly}.

There were a few bumps in the road, I will admit, but they were to be expected on our first day with these students. Our class split into three separate clans, two who chose to elect a leader and with the remaining group deciding to remain as equals.

Overall, even with the few stumbles and difficulties I think that this first week’s lesson went extremely well. Each UA student did an excellent job within their clans and were able to remain approachable to the students while also maintaining the demeanor of a successful supervisor and instructor by answering any questions the students had and keeping the student’s initial decision making a productive and streamlined process.

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