Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 1- Anthropological Approaches (Rising 6th/7th)
Blog Day 1: What do anthropologists do?
SAVY students in Anthropological Approaches today realized that they already know how to think like an anthropologist. They know about different cultures, faraway parts of the world, and diverse ways of thinking. Anthropology is the study of culture. Students recognized that culture is many things: it’s the food we eat, the people in our family, our religion, our beliefs, art, dance, and politics. In this class, we are going to expand on what students already know and introduce them to new places, peoples, and ways of thinking!
In our class, we are using a classic definition of culture from Sir Edward Tylor: “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” We will build on our definition as we learn more about how anthropologists study culture, how people express culture, and how cultures interact.
We discussed the importance of cultural relativism, beginning with a short video on the subject. Franz Boas, the forefather of American Anthropology, taught us that we should always study other cultures based on their own internal logic, history, and traditions. We must understand “the complex whole” to understand why different groups have their own languages, rituals, religions, beliefs, and art.
Students practiced this idea by forming their own “clans” where they came up with an ancestor, a leadership structure, a signature food, rituals, and symbolic flags to represent their group. We have three clans in our class. One came up with a special handshake and signature colors. Another picked gaming and YouTube as the foundation of their clan. The third based their clan on Cat Woman and bravery! Their flags (shown below) will hang all week.
At the end of class, we practiced being anthropologists by interviewing and presenting a classmate.
Anthropological Approaches is off to a great start. Tomorrow we will travel the world!