Periphery is a photographic and film exhibition created in partnership by No Silence on Race (NSOR) and the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA). Periphery is a short film about ethnic diversity in the Jewish community in Toronto, Canada. Sharing narratives from individuals of multiracial and multiethnic backgrounds, Periphery creates space to look, listen, and learn from participants as they share their experiences and explore ideas of representation, intersectionality, ethnicity, race, and sexuality. Periphery invites us to appreciate the richness of Jewish identity and cultural expression while illustrating the feeling of grappling to belong. The film and portraits draw our attention inwards and invites us to examine how we foster and support a broader and richer view of the Jewish community.
The Periphery Curriculum is an extension of Periphery, drawing on the photographs, interviews, and film to create, workshop, and disseminate curriculum guides for grades 8-12 within the Jewish and public school systems, as well as content suitable for distribution within the general Jewish and non-Jewish populations across Canada and the United States. Through learning about Jewish communities in Canada, students will explore their own identities and engage in dialogue about the complexities of identity and belonging while deconstructing stereotypical tropes associated with Jewish people.
No Silence on Race is a non-profit dedicated to building Jewish communities by and for Jews of Colour in Canada through arts, culture, education and advocacy. Connect with us at www.nosilenceonrace.ca
The Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) is the largest repository of Jewish life in Canada. Through exhibitions, programs, research assistance, and walking tours, the OJA tells the stories of Ontario’s Jewish community. You can find us online at www.ontariojewisharchives.org
Facing History and Ourselves uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Our unique approach integrates civics, equity, and social-emotional learning with core academic content to help middle and high school educators lead and engage students in rigorous explorations of diverse topics including identity, prejudice, racism, history, legacy, and current events.
Facing History is pleased to be a partner on this project and act as consultants on the development of this curriculum.
This guide provides material to prepare students to watch clips from Periphery, The Extended Series, as well as materials to explore key themes in greater depth. By the end of these activities, students will have a stronger understanding about Jewish ethnic diversity and culture in Canada and around the world as well as intersectional identity, privilege and the impacts of stereotypes, assumptions and discrimination on ones identity. Students will also reflect on their role as individuals in the classroom and in other social spaces on how to be responsible global citizens equipped with knowledge and empathy to contribute to inclusive spaces of learning and development and how to effectively engage in social action and change.
In addition to the lessons found on this website, we have also included a teacher’s guide entitled Intro to Judaism, the worksheets required for the pre/post screening activities, and a glossary of terms to equip both teachers and students with the correct language to engage in dialogue and learn about the Jewish community. These can be found as downloadable pdfs alongside the curriculum.
Themes & topics this lesson explores: Identity, ethnicity, belonging, recognition, acceptance, dance, spoken word, antisemitism, social justice and civic engagement
*In addition to the connections below, our pedagogy is rooted from a culturally responsive lens. Our focus is to utilize students’ understanding of their identities as a foundation for critical understanding to learn about diversity, race, ethnicity, religion and identity to facilitate critical inquiry, reflection and responsible citizenship.
These lessons are tied to the following strands of the Ontario high school curriculum:
The Social Construction of Identity
A1.1 Explore a variety of topics related to equity, diversity, and/or social justice to identify topics for research and inquiry
Explain how various aspects of identity (e.g., gender identity, sexual orientation, trans identities, race, culture, ethnicity, ability, language, class, faith, age, body image) may be socially constructed and internalized (e.g., through the media, parental expectations, religion, popular culture)
Demonstrate an understanding of how a variety of factors (e.g., race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability) intersect in individuals to create diverse experiences of identity and social roles
B1.4 Explain how biases and stereotypes, including those related to race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, are transmitted through the media and popular culture and describe their possible impact on individuals
Explain how and why a person’s power and privilege can vary in different contexts (e.g., at home, in a peer group, at school, in the community)
B2.3 Demonstrate an understanding of the difference between individual and systemic forms of discrimination and oppression (e.g., antisemitic remarks, racial profiling, gay bashing, racist slurs, homophobic comments, lack of captioning of television programs or videos, employment barriers, restrictions on gay men being blood or organ donors, the reserve system for First Nations peoples in Canada, failure to make buildings accessible for elderly people and people with disabilities)
B2.4 Describe the effects of discrimination and oppression on individuals and groups (e.g., feelings of marginalization, powerlessness, anger, hopelessness; motivation to seek societal change or engage in advocacy, action)
C1.2 Describe the complexities of the relationship between an individual’s cultural heritage and Canadian values, beliefs, and practices
C2.1 Describe a variety of historical and contemporary examples of inequity and social injustice in Canada (e.g., historical immigration policy, including the Chinese Exclusion Act and head tax on Chinese residents; the response to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism; the internment of Japanese Canadians, German Canadians, and Doukhobors; living conditions in urban slums and First Nation communities; working conditions in early factories and sweatshops; the destruction of Africville; the struggle for unions and for health and safety standards for workers; discrimination against francophones; environmental degradation related to resource exploitation)
B1.1 Analyse their initial response to art works (e.g., describe their initial reaction to an art work and determine which specific aspects of the work and their personal experience led to their reaction)
B2.2 Analyse the ability of media art works to express historical or contemporary cultural identities (e.g., Alanis Obomsawin’s Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance; Nina Levitt’s Thin Air), and explain how obstacles can limit that ability (e.g., the limited representation on the Internet of media artists from some regions of the world)
B2.5 Analyse how the process of critically analysing media art works has affected their perception and understanding of different communities, cultures, ideologies, and/or social groups (e.g., how analysing media art work posted on video blogs has expanded their knowledge or changed their perception of people who are from different cultures or who advocate different ideologies)
B1.2 Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts related to the social construction of identity (e.g., the construction of race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, class) that have been developed by a range of theorists (e.g., Judith Butler, George Dei, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, bell hooks, Karl Marx), and of how to apply the concepts when analysing equity issues
B2.4 Demonstrate an understanding of how the use of language can empower or marginalize individuals and groups (e.g., the impact of forcing colonized people to be educated in or to use the lan guage of the colonizer; the implications of androcentric language; the benefits of groups “reclaiming” pejorative language)
B3.1 Analyse stereotypes found in the media and popular culture, and assess their impact (e.g., with reference to: personal aspirations, expectations, and assumptions; empathy; violent or oppressive behaviour; harassment and bullying; sense of belonging or alienation)
B3.3 Demonstrate an understanding of various ways in which media and popular culture can be used to raise awareness of equity and social justice issues (e.g., how popular music, feature films, documentaries, photographs, and the Internet can raise social awareness)
Compare challenges facing various equity- seeking groups (e.g., groups seeking gender equity, racial equity, poverty reduction, or rights for people who are mentally ill or who have physical, intellectual, or sensory disabilities), and describe some of the policies, strategies, and initiatives used by these groups to address their concerns
D1.1 Describe how fundamental values, attitudes, and day-to-day behaviour (e.g., fair-mindedness, empathy, reflection, respecting and embracing diversity, personal language use) can contribute to equity and social justice
D1.2 Describe how education can help promote equity and social justice (e.g., by fostering critical thinking, increasing awareness, exposing students to multiple perspectives)
A1.1 Explore a variety of topics related to world cultures and/or cultural groups (e.g., ethno cultural study of a particular culture, the issue of hyphenated identities, educational and employment barriers faced by newcomers to Canada, changing gender roles in specific cultures) to identify topics for research and inquiry
B1.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the elements of culture (e.g., language, symbols, arts, literature, values, beliefs, traditions, ethnic origin, religion, social hierarchies, kinship relations) associated with various definitions of the term (e.g., the UNESCO definition; anthropological, sociological, humanist definitions)
B1.2 Analyse various functions of culture (e.g., contributing to an individual’s sense of self and sense of community; providing a sense of security; establishing and enforcing social norms; providing meaning, purpose, and structure in individuals’ lives)
Teacher prompts: “What are the positive aspects of the cultural enforcement of social norms? What negative effects might arise from this enforcement?” “What are the benefits of belong ing to a cultural group? What are some other sources of the sense of security and belonging that are often provided by a cultural group?”
B1.3 Describe multiple ways in which culture can influence an individual’s perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours (e.g., with respect to dietary choices restrictions, customs, habits, moral expectations, the human relationship to nature, social roles such as gender roles or roles associated with age) and can shape social institutions and practices (e.g., the education system, employment opportunities, forms of entertainment)
B2.1 Demonstrate an understanding of how an individual’s cultural identity is socially con structed (e.g., with reference to family expectations, peer pressure, religious expectations, education and training, media and popular culture)
B2.2 Analyse how culture is acquired and main tained within a group (e.g., through oral/written traditions, social and religious organizations and institutions, language, symbols, customs and mores, art, philosophy; through practices such as endogamy)
Teacher prompts: “What role does oral history play in teaching us about culture?” “What is the importance of language and customs in maintaining cultural identity?” “What steps have Franco-Ontarians and Québécois taken to preserve their cultural identity?” “How
B2.4 Compare the rates at which cultural change is taking place within a variety of cultures (e.g., with respect to language, social mores, traditions, religious observance, fashion, intergenerational rela tionships, marriage, rites of passage; in the roles of women, men, and children), and analyse the fac tors contributing to this change (e.g., technological change, economic development, globalization, epi demics, migration, civil strife, education, mass media, climate change)
B2.5 Analyse various types of tensions that can occur between individuals and their collective culture (e.g., intergenerational conflict regarding social roles, values, beliefs, and behaviours such as gender roles, the language used at home, dating and courtship practices, dress; culture clashes between majority and minority cultures; tension between secular and religious perspectives on sexual mores)
C1.3 Demonstrate an understanding of various religious or spiritual beliefs (e.g., Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Aboriginal or tribal spiritual beliefs) found within a specific culture and of how they relate to various aspects of that culture (e.g., dietary laws; social hierarchies; attitudes towards gender roles and social inequality; ethics and mores; rituals/practices around birth, marriage, sickness, death; educational practices; practices such as meditation, powwows, pilgrimages, shamanism, t’ai chi ch’uan, voodoo)
D1.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the dynamics of power relations within specific cultural groups (e.g., with reference to: the caste system in India; shadism in various societies; race relations in Mexico or Zimbabwe; the role of elders in China or among First Nation peoples; gender roles in Iran or Japan; the status of katoey in Thailand, hijra in India, two-spirited people in Aboriginal cultures, fafafini in Samoa)
D1.2 Analyse the potential impact on cultural identity and on the relations between cultural groups of cultural stereotypes, labelling, and misrepresentations found in mainstream media and popular culture (e.g., the labelling of some groups as “model minorities” or “fresh off the boat”; stereotypes such as dragon women, Asian lotus blossoms, Black athletes, First Nation warriors; misrepresentations such as Muslims as terrorists)
Teacher prompt: “What specific cultural stereotypes are found on television shows and in movies that you watch? What effect do you think they have on both the minority cultures who are the targets of these stereotypes and on the majority culture?”
B1.1 Demonstrate the ability to support their initial responses to a variety of art works with informed understanding of the works’ artistic form and function (e.g., describe their initial response to an art work, and explain in detail how specific aspects of the work’s content, formal qualities, and media inform that response)
B1.2 Use the critical analysis process to deconstruct, analyse, and evaluate different types of media art works (e.g., interactive installations, animations, music videos, performance art, websites, digitally manipulated photographs, documentaries) by contemporary media artists (e.g., determine their initial reaction to an art work; identify the individual elements and principles of the work and analyse how the artist has combined them for a particular purpose; reflect on the work’s technical and aesthetic features to determine its effectiveness in communicating a message, emotion, or concern and to assess its impact.
B2.2 Analyse, on the basis of investigation, the ability of media art works to express and promote cultural identities
B2.3 Analyse, on the basis of investigation, how media art works can serve as a catalyst for changing community or societal values
B2.5 Analyse how the process of critically analysing media art works has affected their perception and understanding of different communities, cultures, ideologies, and/or social groups, and assess the impact of these percep- tions and understandings on their own media art work (e.g., reflect on how their increased under- standing of others’ points of view has affected the content or approach of their own art works)
At the end of these lessons, students will:
If you are teaching this unit in an online format, consider engaging the online room by encouraging students to post comments in the chat (jamboard, mentimeter) about words or phrases that come up in the segment that they are curious about. It may be advisable to establish parameters around the kinds of comments that are appropriate when learning about cultures outside of our own. The intention of this exercise is to get students actively engaging with media content.
Depending on how much time you have to teach this lesson, select a topic(s) you would like to explore in greater depth and have students watch specific clips and engage with the connected prompts. Each set indicates how long the video and prompt will require.
What is your story? If someone were to interview you and ask you about your upbringing and culture, what would you say?
Pair students off and have them interview each other (practicing active listening).
Consider the following instructions for interviews:
Create an artistic representation of “your story” (i.e. draw the cover to a book about your life, write a poem/song, etc.) (10 minutes)
What aspects of your identity are visible to others and what aspects are invisible? Complete the corresponding handout or this chart by including all aspects of your identity that feel relevant to you (i.e., Jewish, hidden: I have an invisible disability that I don’t talk about, I am extremely shy but work hard to be an extrovert, one of my close family members has been very sick but I don’t talk about it at school)
In this clip, Tema shares more about her identity and the complexities she experiences as a Jewish community professional in the Jewish community when people assume she is of solely Ashkenazi heritage and non-mixed race. Tema shares that people will say things to her that they would never say if a Black person were in the room. In these moments, Tema feels completely unseen and invisibilized.
Let’s address conversion. What are some of the harmful assumptions and rhetoric that exist about people who convert to Judaism within our community?
What does Periphery mean? Develop a working definition of this word which you will revisit after viewing the film. (5 minutes)
After watching the film, how does your definition of Periphery change?
As a class, brainstorm a new definition collectively that encompasses as many students’ POV. (15 minutes)
What does Periphery mean? Before watching clips from Periphery, write your own definition of this word which you will revisit after viewing the film.
In the film, Fabio talks about experiencing a lot of fear in Brazil as a child and in his youth. Fabio says he was: Afraid of people, afraid to enter stores, ask for services, afraid to walk in the streets. Fabio further states that this put him in a place of constant self-protection.
In this clip, Ariella Daniels talks about having two uncomfortable conversations with her parents about the antisemitism she may experience outside of the Jewish community and about being a person of colour within the Jewish community.
Curriculum Topics: Jewish studies, Equity, Diversity & Social Justice, World Cultures
Goal: To use Jewish text to integrate the lessons about diversity from Periphery and Periphery, the Extended Series.
Consider using the Big Paper Teaching Strategy to explore these quotes in depth (15-20 minutes)
And this serves to tell of the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as when a person stamps several coins with one seal, they are all similar to each other. But the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He, stamped all people with the seal of the first human, as all of them are his offspring, and not one of them is similar to another.
This passage allows us to explore the distinction between equality and equity. The coin has equal value because they are identical; but, when g-d creates all people he uses the same mold. Each person is inherently different, which makes them unique and equal because they are made from the same mold. Do things have to be identical to be of the same value? Can we learn to see people as having equal value because they are different?
Rabbi Yose ben Judah a man of Kfar Ha-babli said: He who learns from the young, to what is he compared? To one who eats unripe grapes, and drinks wine from his vat; And he who learns from the old, to what is he compared? To one who eats ripe grapes, and drinks old wine. Rabbi said: don’t look at the container but at that which is in it: there is a new container full of old wine, and an old [container] in which there is not even new [wine].
This passage invites us to look beyond our visible identities and physical appearance of people and remind ourselves about what is inside each individual. Working beyond Jewish text, let’s explore our own responsibility in our everyday life. We can connect this to MLK and his reference to judging people by the content of their character (“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”)
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