Saudi Aramco World: January/February 2014 - page 46

Saudi Aramco World
We hope this two-page
guide will help sharpen
your reading skills and
deepen your understanding
of this issue’s articles.
We encourage
reproduction and
adaptation of these ideas,
freely and without further
permission from Saudi
Aramco World, by teachers
at any level, whether
working in a classroom or
through home study.
Curriculum Alignments
To see alignments with
national standards for all
articles in this issue, click
“Curriculum Alignments”
Julie Weiss
is an education
consultant based in Eliot,
Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in
American studies. Her com-
pany, Unlimited Horizons,
develops social studies,
media literacy, and English
as a Second Language
curricula, and produces
textbook materials.
In today’s world, we find out a lot about
places that are far away from us and people
whose lives are very different from our own.
We may watch YouTube videos online, or
movies made in other countries, or read sto-
ries or books written in places we can only
imagine. In each type of situation, someone
has created something—a video, a film, a
story—to try to help us understand something
that we might otherwise never understand,
or even know about. How do they do it? What
techniques do they use to help us under-
stand? Those are the questions that this edi-
tion of the Classroom Guide asks.
Analogies and Metaphors in Writing
Writers write in order to communicate with
people, and they have tools in their writers’
toolkits that they often use to help them. Two
of these tools are analogies and metaphors.
You may have been introduced to analogies
and metaphors at some point in your school-
ing, but revisit the terms to make sure you
understand them. You can start with a dic-
tionary; then look deeper. Read at least three
sources that define and describe what meta-
phor and analogy mean. Then put the sources
away and write your own definitions of the
terms. As part of your definition of metaphor,
give an example of a metaphor and explain
what makes it a metaphor. Do the same as
part of your definition of analogy. Divide the
class into groups of three. Have each person
in your group share his or her definitions.
Note the similarities, and discuss any differ-
ences among them, until you have reached a
consensus and feel confident that you under-
stand the concepts of metaphor and analogy.
Now that you know what analogies and
metaphors are, take a look at how a writer
uses them. Read “The Casbah of Algiers:
Endangered Ark.” Writer Louis Werner quotes
some past writers and pens some of his own
expressive language to help readers get a
feel for the Casbah. As you read, underline or
highlight some of these descriptions. Here’s
an example to get you
started. Take a look at
the first paragraph of
the article, in which the
Casbah is compared
to Noah’s ark and the
seeds in a pinecone—
two vivid compari-
sons. You take it from
there: Find other ways
that Werner and oth-
ers describe Algiers in
general and the Cas-
bah in particular. When
you’re done, have
class members share some of the analogies
and metaphors they found. Discuss how they
help you know the Casbah—or if you don’t
find that they deepen your understanding, talk
about why they didn’t, and what might work
better for you as a reader.
Having looked at analogies and metaphors
in your role as reader, it’s time to step into the
role of writer. Choose a place that you want to
describe for your readers. It can be any place—
your classroom, your school, your neighbor-
hood, your town. Write a paragraph describing
the place. Include in your paragraph at least
one analogy or metaphor—more if you think
that would be helpful. Keep in mind that you’re
writing for someone who might not know the
place, just as you might not have known the
Casbah of Algiers before you read the article.
Keep in mind, too, that you need to compare
your place to something your readers will be
familiar with. Otherwise you won’t help them
understand. If, for example, you don’t know
the story of Noah’s ark, or you’ve never seen
a pinecone, then the phrases in the first para-
graph of the article will just confuse you.
Analogies and Metaphors in Film
Like writers, filmmakers create something
that they hope will be meaningful for their
viewers. Haifaa Al Mansour, for example,
has made Wadjda, a film about a 10-year-old
Saudi girl who wants to own a bicycle. Al
Mansour says that the bicycle in her film “is a
metaphor for an unrealized dream.” Based on
the article, why do you think she chose a bicy-
cle to represent an unrealized dream? What
characteristics does a bicycle have? What
do those characteristics suggest about how
Al Mansour thinks of the unrealized dream?
What if she had chosen, say, a turtle? Or an
apple tree? What characteristics do turtles
and apple trees have? If you think of them as
symbols—as metaphors—what would each of
them suggest about an unrealized dream?
Al Mansour goes on to articulate what
she would like viewers to get from watching
January/February 2014
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