Friday, June 19, 2009

The China YEREN-BIGFOOT Writing Project


In 2009 at Xi'an International Studies University, China, American teacher Christa Harrison (see her BLOG, From the Redwoods to Red China) used Bigfoot as a writing project subject with her English language-learning Chinese students. In association with Bigfoot Books' BIGFOOT'S bLOG these papers are being posted here.

Students were encouraged to think of Bigfoot and their own native cryptid hominid-hominoid traditions such as the Yeti and Yeren. They were encouraged to write a Western-style research paper, but as you'll see, the perspectives are also uniquely Chinese. These students are preparing for study next term in the USA at Humboldt State University, Northern California.


Christa's full lesson outline and analytic aparatus:


"The original purpose of this assignment was, of course, to give the students a space to practice their developing writing skills. As a writing teacher, I am always trying to think of creative ways to give students an access point to their assignments, so that it’s not “just another paper.” The particular group of students I’m working with are Chinese University Freshmen headed to the US of A for at least two years of study. I teach in an intensive one year program designed to help students ease into their studies in the US as university life in China, as well as education in general, is quite different. Students in China are not taught how to research, and when they are taught how to write in English, they are not taught Western structure or format. They do not know how to use quotations or analysis. My job is to teach them these skills, necessary for survival (at bare minimum) and success at an American University where they will be competing with native speakers. We talk about culture a great deal in our class—Chinese culture, American culture, classroom culture, culture clash, counterculture—and thus I decided to introduce them to Humboldt County culture by using Bigfoot. It was also an opportunity for them to build a cultural bridge between China and the US. The students are always keen to talk about their own culture, but I wanted them to go beyond the usual topics of discussion: China's long history, Confucianism, chopsticks, Mao, food... Steve and I have often talked about Bigfoot, and my being in China led us to talk about Yeren and thus the project was born. I first asked the students what they knew about Yeren, and then explained that the US has a Bigfoot too. They watched the Patterson-Gimlin film, and a short film about searching for Yeren (http://current.com/items/76361782/bigfoot_in_china.htm). Once they had some ideas in their heads, I had them look at Bigfoot imagery and begin to brainstorm ideas for an academic essay about Yeren and Bigfoot. To practice their researching skills, and to further develop their ability to discern whether or not a source is reputable, I guided the students to a series of articles about the creatures. They were then asked to find their own sources. With all these ideas in mind, the next step was for them to put together some sort of thesis, and build an essay on said idea. Each essay went through a series of drafts, peer review, and revision. "


Class photo and most individual bio. images by Christa Harrison.Student works and text content on this blog remain copyrighted by their producers.Steven Streufert kind of claims credit for some of the other images and the general blogification of this. Other images are archival/historical or borrowed from friendly sources.


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