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Academic Curriculum

‘El Día de los Muertos’


On the 1st and 2nd of November the whole of Mexico and other countries that have Mexican communities celebrate ‘Day of the Dead’. It has become widely known across the world, even featuring in the James Bond movie ‘Spectre’, as a festival that is an explosion of culture and a celebration of those family members who have passed.

With the boom of Mexican culture around the world, especially with food and movies, I thought that the boys would enjoy learning about this aspect and appreciate the real-life application. I approached the Head librarian, Mr Bill Roberts, about doing a collaboration with him and his staff and then using the library space for an exhibit at the end of the project. It took place over three weeks.

The learning intentions were to be able to:

  • Learn how to undertake effective research and evaluate the reliability of sources
  • Read a variety of texts on the subject to encourage the boys to read as well as gain an understanding and appreciation of what exactly this celebration is about
  • Produce a piece of writing of their choice (narrative, historical or creative) to demonstrate their acquired knowledge
  • Create a piece of art work (a skull, a memorial or a drawing)
  • To learn the key elements, including the terminology in Spanish

It was ambitious but the boys rose to the occasion beautifully!

We spent half of the lessons in the library and the boys worked in small groups with their Spanish teacher and the library staff, who generously gave up their time. This meant that we were able to have wonderful discussions in which the boys shared their insights and observations. One of my students made a fabulous comparison between the ‘ofrendas’ (the offerings) that the Mexican people place on the graves or on the altars in their houses and the daily offerings that the Balinese place outside their houses or place of work. It was a great opportunity to move between cultures and to think critically about this topic.

I also learnt, along with the boys, about the plethora of resources that we have to hand in the library and online. We were also fortunate to have the library staff assisting us when it was time for the boys to get writing and they were provided with helpful scaffolds.

In addition to the exhibit put up in the library as a culmination of the Year 8 Spanish classes hard work, on the actual day (2nd November), we had a screening of the Pixar animation ‘Coco’ in the PAC. The boys who had done an excellent job and had worked consistently hard throughout the duration of the project were rewarded with VIP treatment. Judging by the silence and the booing at the end, as I had to finish it 2 minutes before the end, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the film. I believe that due to covering the content in advance they were able to gain a lot from the movie. It comes highly recommended.

I applaud the Year 8’s for their level of engagement with the project and hope that someday they get the opportunity to travel to ‘Méjico’ and experience it first hand. Qué guay!