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Volume 63, Number 5September/October 2012

In This Issue

Classroom Guide

For students: We hope this two-page guide will help sharpen your reading skills and deepen your understanding of this issue's articles.

For teachers: 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.


Jump to McRel Standards


This Classroom Guide for the September/October issue focuses on two articles: “Muhammad Iqbal’s Caravan of Verse” and “Hong Kong Day and Night.” In the activities that follow, you’ll look at both the form of the articles—how each tells the story it tells—and their content—what each tells in its story.

Theme: Portraits

When you think of portraits, what comes to mind?

Start your work in this theme by thinking about what associations you have with portraits. Whom do you picture in your mind when you hear the word portrait? Is it a painting? A photo? A national leader or hero? A family member? Or maybe you think of something else entirely—something like the “portrait” page layout on your computer! Share your thoughts about portraits with the person sitting next to you. When you’ve each said your piece and listened to each other, look up the definition of portrait and write it down. If you find multiple definitions, write them all. Then have pairs share their definitions, and have a volunteer write them on the board. Keep these definitions in mind as you continue working.

How is a biography also a portrait?

A biography is a kind of portrait—a description of a person’s life that creates an image (often more than one) of the person for the reader, similar to the way a drawing or photograph is an image of the person. But a biography is made up of words. Read “Muhammad Iqbal’s Caravan of Verse.” Write down three facts about Iqbal’s life that you think are important. What makes those facts stand out? What makes them important to you? Write your answer after the three facts.

Working with two or three other people, turn your attention to the form in which this biographical portrait has been created. The first element of the story is the first paragraph—the one that’s in a larger font than the rest of the article. Reread it with your group. Discuss what function the paragraph serves. For example, one of its functions is as an introduction. It introduces the biography. How does it do that? Write in the margins near the first paragraph how your group sums up the function of the first paragraph.

With the second paragraph, the body of the article begins. What is the starting point in this biographical portrait of Iqbal? Write that in the margins, too. Note that this portrait of Iqbal is divided into segments, each of which starts with an extra-large capital letter and ends with a passage of Iqbal’s writing. If you think of each segment as if it were a sentence, the ending passage is kind of like a punctuation mark. Like the period at the end of a sentence, it tells you that a main idea has ended. With this in mind, reread the article, segment by segment. When you get to the end of each segment, write a one-sentence summary of it. When you get to the end of the article, make a note about how this biographical portrait ends.

When you and your group have identified the beginning and ending of this story of Muhammad Iqbal and written your summaries, step back and think about the whole article as a portrait of Iqbal. What are the key themes that this portrait identifies in Iqbal’s life? Have groups share the themes they identify, and make a list on the board. Then ask yourself, “How would I describe Iqbal?” One way is by describing what he looked like—like the drawing on page 18. Another is by identifying the key themes in this portrait of words. Write a one-paragraph description of Iqbal. Include in your paragraph what you think are the most important elements of the man. Share your paragraph with other students and compare the different ways you’ve portrayed the man.

What other forms can portraits take?

Now look at a very different kind of portrait, “Hong Kong Day and Night.” The first thing you’ll probably notice about this portrait is that it’s not typewritten. With your group, look at the article. Don’t worry yet about reading it—just look at it. What do you notice about the lines of text? What do you notice about the paintings and drawings? Compare the visual appearance of this article with the visual appearance of “Muhammad Iqbal’s Caravan of Verse.” Which is more familiar to you? What feelings do you get when you look at each? Is one more inviting to you—more likely something you would want to read? If you were flipping through the magazine, would one more likely catch your eye than the other? Why?

Working with your group, read the article. Remember that “Muhammad Iqbal” was divided into segments that used visual cues to let you know the start and stop points. “Hong Kong Day and Night” is similarly divided into segments, although you might not be able to tell quite as easily where they start and stop. As you figure out which text and which pictures go together, draw a circle around each segment of the article. When you’ve circled the segments, look carefully at each one. Ask yourself, as you did about the segments in the other article, what is the topic of each segment? Write a one-sentence summary of each segment, as you did with the other article.

Answer some of the other questions you answered about the portrait of Muhammad Iqbal: What is the starting point of this portrait of Hong Kong? Can you find a chronological organization to this portrait? If so, make a timeline and locate the different segments on it. If you don’t find a chronology, how would you describe the organization of this portrait? Discuss with your group whether or not you have a preference for a “linear” portrait like the portrait of Iqbal or a “patchwork” one like the portrait of Hong Kong. If you do, why is that?

Now try a different way of comparing the two types of portraits. Choose and complete one of the following tasks: Either write a linear portrait of Hong Kong using the content of “Hong Kong Day and Night,” or write a patchwork portrait of Muhammad Iqbal, using the content of “Muhammad Iqbal’s Caravan of Verse.” When you’re done, answer these questions with a partner: Which version of the portrait do you prefer—the one in Saudi Aramco World or the one you made? Why? Display your work, or make copies for other students to read. As a follow-up activity, you can try making a self-portrait using one of the formats you’ve explored—or some other format that you find interesting.

Theme: East Meets West—and Other Meetings

For this theme, you’ll continue working with the same two articles, but this time, you’ll be looking at what each article has to say about the meeting of things that are different—we’ll call them “differents”—starting with the meeting of East and West. Look at the scene of Hong Kong on page 24. (Notice that there’s also a caption for the visual image.) What do you notice about the two sides of the painting? How does writer/illustrator Norman MacDonald explain what the scene means to him? Go through the rest of “Hong Kong Day and Night” and highlight all the parts that address the meetings of “differents” such as eastern and western cultures, light and dark, yin and yang. For example, what does the portrait of Hong Kong say about the ways that British and Chinese cultures meet in Hong Kong? What does it say about the presence of a Muslim minority in the city? How would you sum up what MacDonald thinks about the meeting of “differents” in Hong Kong?

The biographical sketch of Muhammad Iqbal also identifies the meetings of “differents.” Highlight these parts of the article. As you did with Hong Kong, start with the meeting of the cultures of East and West. How did western thought influence Iqbal? How did living in India influence him? How did he deal with the differences? Similarly, how did he deal with being Muslim in India? What was his vision about how Islam and India could coexist? How would you sum up what Iqbal thought about the meetings of “differents”?


Both the articles you’ve been focusing on in these activities include drawings, and the article about Muhammad Iqbal also includes photos. Start with the drawing of Iqbal on page 18. What sense do you get of him when you look at this drawing? How would you describe what he looks like? What words would you use to describe his temperament, mood or character? What is it about the sketch that evokes that sense of him? What do you think the artist was trying to say about him? Now look at the photograph of Iqbal on page 23 and answer the same questions. Which of the two images do you prefer? Why? When you think about what you have read about Iqbal, which image—if either—feels to you to be a more accurate representation of him? What makes it so? If they seem equally accurate, explain how you can see these two different representations as both being accurate. Now look at the painting of Hong Kong on page 24. Go online and find photographs of the Hong Kong skyline, ones that are as similar to the painting as you can find. How would you describe the differences between them and the painting? What words would you use to describe the city in the painting and the photographs? Then discuss what you think it means for a portrait to be “accurate.”

You can try the same kind of comparisons—paintings or drawings versus photographs, or different photographs—with other subjects. With a partner, make a list of the characteristics of each type of image, and identify what you consider to be the benefits and drawbacks of each.

SO12 Standards Alignment
McRel Standards

Hong Kong Day and Night


Standard 6. Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions

Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

Standard 12. Understands the patterns of human settlement and their causes

World History

Standard 26. Understands how the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world between 1450 and 1600 led to global transformations

Standard 34. Understands how Eurasian societies were transformed in an era of global trade and the emergence of European power from 1750 to 1870

Standard 43. Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up

Muhammad Iqbal’s Caravan of Verse


Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

World History

Standard 43. Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred, new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires broke up

Ksar Aqil at the Crossroads out of Africa


Standard 9. Understands the nature, distribution and migration of human populations on Earth's surface

Standard 17. Understands how geography is used to interpret the past

World History

Standard 1. Understands the biological and cultural processes that shaped the earliest human communities

Mehter Music Echoes Down the Centuries

World History

Standard 19. Understands the maturation of an interregional system of communication, trade, and cultural exchange during a period of Chinese economic power and Islamic expansion

Standard 28. Understands how large territorial empires dominated much of Eurasia between the 16th and 18th centuries


Standard7. Understands the relationship between music and history and culture


Standard 10. Understands the nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics

Little Thimble, Big Journey

World History

Standard 9. Understand how major religious and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean Basin, China, and India from 500 BCE to 300 CE

Standard 19. Understands the maturation of an interregional system of communication, trade, and cultural exchange during a period of Chinese economic power and Islamic expansion

Standard 20. Understands the redefinition of European society and culture from 1000 to 1300 CE


Standard 11. Understands the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface

Julie Weiss ([email protected]) is an education consultant based in Eliot, Maine. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies. Her company, Unlimited Horizons, develops social studies, media literacy, and English as a Second Language curricula, and produces textbook materials.