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TCK – Third Culture Kids

“A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture”. David Pollock, Third Culture Kids: Growing up among Worlds (2009).

We will go through the text on p. 248 in Stunt, but we’ll look at this video first:



Teenage pregnancy

Today we are looking at two songs, following the viewing of the film Juno yesterday. The first song is Papa Don’t Preach by Madonna:

The other is Billie Jean by Michael Jackson:

We’ll pretend that the two songs are two sides of the same story, one from the girl’s point of view, the other from the boy’s. Here are some questions to the songs:

“Papa Don’t Preach”

  1. What do you learn about the girl in the song?
  2. What do you learn about her boyfriend?
  3. What do you think about her decision?
  4. What does she mean when she says “it’s a sacrifice”?

“Billie Jean”

  1. What has happened, according to the boy?
  2. Is he telling the truth? What do you think really happened?
  3. Is he the father of the child? What supports this – what goes against it?
  4. What do you think of the boy – how would you describe him?

The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher died yesterday at the age of 87. She was portrayed in the 2011 film The Iron Lady, and you can see the trailer for the film here:

The former Prime Minister allegedly trained with an actor to lower her voice to sound more authoritative. The change can be seen in this video:

This last clip shows Thatcher in action in the House of Commons during a typical debate:

Using Sources

The ability to use sources properly and responsibly is very important to students. Remember that citing your sources can only improve your essay – never weaken it! And if you don’t know how, forget or don’t bother to give the sources you have used, you will be accused of plagiarism, even if it is unintentional.

This post will show you how to give satisfactory information about the sources you use, and I will use examples from books and websites. There are many other types of sources that are cited in different ways, but the principles are the same. The essentials are:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Publication details
  • Access date (if it’s a website)

Let’s use a text from Stunt for a little exercise. The book has this reference, by the way: Kristin Maage Areklett and others, Stunt (Oslo: Samlaget, 2009).

Task 1: Look at the text “Proof Positive” on p. 295. List the sources of this article, and write down the information you can find about them in the text, along with a brief quote of what they say (all answers can be found here, but don’t look before you have finished!).

The format of how to cite a source varies, but I prefer this one, called MHRA. It looks like this:

Author’s name, Title (Place of publication: Publisher, year)

From amazon.comTask 2: Use this information about Domar’s book to write a proper source entry: Alice D. Dolmar wrote the book “Be Happy without Being Perfect” together with Alice Lesch Kelly. It was published by Piatkus in 2008, a London-based publisher.

Task 3: Use this information about Judy Molnar’s book (not mentioned in Stunt) to write a proper source entry: Judy Molnar wrote her hit book “You Don’t Have to Be Thin to Win” in 2000. It came out on Villard, which is a publishing company in New York (check your answers here as you progress through the tasks!)

Task 4: Try to do the same with these books mentioned in the text ‘Food for Thought’, Stunt, p. 291. Follow the links and have a look at the first pages in the preview to find publication details:

Skinny Bitch
Skinny Bitch in the Kitch
Dr. Susan’s Girls Only Weight Loss Guide

Then, check your answers!

Internet sources

Internet sources are slightly different, because the content can change, especially if the material is published recently. Here you also have to add the date you accessed the web page. Internet sources are listed like this:

Author, ‘Title’, name of website, published date <URL> [accessed date]

For example, for this text, the source information may look like this:

Motoko Rich, ‘Gym Class Isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore’, The New York Times, 18 February 2013 < > [accessed 4 March 2013]

Task 5: Try listing the source for this blog post! And then check your answer

Task 6: Now, try this one. And check your answer afterwards.

Now you know a little more about how to cite sources for your essays. Congratulations!

What have the students learned?

The blog task is almost finished! My students only have to comment on the last post, and improve any of their previous posts, and then they are done. I asked them to write about what they thought of the experience, and here are some samples:

“Thank you for following my blog! It has been a blast. I will certainly read some of the books that my classmates has written about, thanks to their blogs.”

I quote this because several students have written similar things: reading the blogs of others in class made them want to read more books. I think that is a good enough reason for doing something like this. But there are other positive outcomes too. One student writes:

“This assignment has changed my views on reading.”

Not everyone is a bookworm. Some students say they hate reading, but even they seem to enjoy it once they get started. And they read differently too. The blog tasks forced them to try and answer questions while they were reading,

and most students write that this has made them more observant readers (for better or worse. Some would still prefer to simply enjoy a book without thinking too much).

Still, the greatest result of this work has been getting past the writing barrier.

“To answer the last suggested question in the task: yes, I think that this is a very productive way of working with a book. As mentioned earlier, you have to work in a structured manner. And for people who don’t like to write too much, I think that working like this is easier. You do not notice how much you are writing during the process.”

Most students wrote somewhere between 1500-2000 words, which is something like 3-5 pages in print. That is a phenomenal achievement for some, who would usually struggle to get past one page. I am really proud of them for that, and they should be proud of themselves, too. The trick is to divide the work in smaller parts, and not look at it as one, massive, impossible task. If they can remember that lesson from this blog project, they will find many things less daunting.

Paragraphing exercise

Place the space between paragraphs in the right place.

Link to Paragraph exercise.

“I Lost My Talk” by Rita Joe

This poem by Rita Joe can be found in the textbook on page 254:

I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my word.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.

I found these film clips to illustrate how Indian residential schools in Canada were perceived differently by different people. The first one is an informational film from 1955.

The next clip is an interview with a former student at one of these schools, Eva Cardinal:

Feel free to comment on the videos or the poem.

Choose a book

I have a new batch of prospective book bloggers, and this week I am asking them to choose a novel from the library, and to begin bragging blogging about it. How should they choose? Well, for starters, I would ask them to choose a book they haven’t read before. It must be originally written in English, so no works in translation. To make it easier for themselves, they should NOT choose a novel that is based on a film, such as Billy Elliot or The Omen. I advise them to choose something they find interesting, since this is their chance to choose. It also makes it more interesting if they don’t choose the same book as someone else.

When it comes to blog tools, I would recommend one of the following: (formerly Blogspot, now run by Google) (this one requires advertisements, so it is not ideal)

Microblogging services such as Tumblr are not suited to the task because you cannot post comments.

In my experience, students need few instructions for how to set up a blog. If they encounter problems, they ask each other.

Haiku poems!

I asked my students to write Haiku poems yesterday. It is a rewarding exercise as they get to express themselves, but it is also a useful exercise when introducing rhythm and meter in poetry. And if nothing else, they learn what a syllable is. Some of them get it straight away, whereas others have more difficulty with hearing the rhythms in language. I have asked them to keep to a strict 5-7-5 scheme, where the numbers refer to the number of syllables in each line. Here’s a sample of yesterday’s production:

Haikus can be fun
But they can be confusing

A bit of tongue-in-cheek there… the deliberate randomness of words pokes fun at poetry that doesn’t make sense (neither does this poem). I take it that “Haikus” in this context represents poetry at large, but note that confusion or lack of meaning does not exclude enjoyment – or indeed that others might find meaning in it. Who decides what a poem really means – the poet or the reader?

Here are some other Haikus:

A tired body
Affected by the storms of life
The last apple falls

Tired and longing
The end of winter and snow
Student’s month of May

The blood in your eyes
see the pain hidden in your pride
Scars that remain left.

There is a beautiful ambiguity in that last line: the word “left” can mean to stay behind but also to leave. The two last words (“remain left”) are at the same synonyms and a dichotomy: they are opposites, yet they are the same. The lack of clarity in how to read the line gives it tremendous tension. This Haiku is what I would call a very fortunate accident…

The rain falls sadly
Most important is to smile
The dreams are shining

A glowing star fades
The wind sounds troubled today
Feel your heart beating

Notice the rhythm in “troubled today”, not unlike a heartbeat, which the last line draws attention to. It is like you are encouraged to feel the poem beating inside of you when you read it. Rhythm is often overlooked in poetry when we read for ourselves, but it often helps to read things out loud, or to hear the poem spoken by someone else.

The sun looking out.
Expressions growing sterner –
Will I fail or pass?

A bright, white landscape.
White crystals dancing lightly –
Landing on your chin.

Music to my ears.
One can see Norwegian flags.
What a perfect day!

Bumblebees are here.
Wake up from three months of sleep!
Can you hear our voice?

A very cheerful and warm image that most readers will associate with summer, warmth, relaxation, coziness: the furry little bumblebee. The poem takes the voice of the bumblebee in the last line – can you hear our voice? The question provokes an answer, and as a reader you accept and say yes. They speak as a unit, and you certainly can imagine the low baritone buzzing of this charming insect. The poem becomes what they say, so it’s like you can hear both the words and the buzzing at the same time. A very nice effect.

People coming home.
Soon there will be time for fun.
The grass is greener!

A classroom so cold.
The tension is rising high.
Finals are nearing.

Water droplets falling,
The sun should be shining bright.
Why do you mock me?

When you look at me.
Like the sunflowers at home,
You make me feel safe.

Waiting for flowers
The summer is almost here
So close but so far

School can be funny,
but sometimes boring as well,
when it’s summer time

Dead leaves fall and fall,
like brown waves around my feet,
autumn has appeared

In class once again,
though the sun no longer shines,
memories warm us

Freezing in classroom,
all is dark as sleep takes me,
and I gently snore

It is very cold,
I no longer want ice cream,
only tea for me

The wind gently moans,
and sharply bites without teeth,
where has Summer gone?

The teacher teaching
Pupils waiting for the clock
It strikes “we’re free”

The bitter winter
Turning soft as the pupils;
They run out to play

Beginning of warmth,
The spring is finally here.
Let us get wasted.

Like the flower petals
In the cold months of winter.
In class we sit, trapped.

An interesting poem because of the allusion to Ezra Pound’s famous “In a Station of the Metro”, whether it is put there consciously or not: the word “petals” clearly rings that bell for me, at least. The mood is pretty gloomy, and this poem has a similar theme of life’s transience and how short-lived beauty is. A harsh interpretation would be to say that school kills the life and spirit of students, and traps potential rather than nurturing it. Still, the seasonal aspect represented by the words “months” and “winter” suggests that summer will come again, and there is longing and hope there too. Being trapped is not necessarily the end.


The soul shifts colors.
Like the leaves falling from trees.
The tree of life grows.

Short story work: “A Prayer from the Living” by Ben Okri

We are going to to a little bit of work with a short story found on page 287 in Stunt. It is Ben Okri’s “A Prayer from the Living” from 1993. I will give you some tasks to work with in class, but we will also make use of the word cloud underneath. A word cloud is a graphic presentation of the text, where the words that recur often are shown as bigger, and vice versa. It can give you an idea of what the text is about.

Wordle: Prayer for the living

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