In the time since then, I have really focused on researching, learning, and talking about that submerged part of the culture iceberg.
In this blog entry I want to talk specifically about the use of myths and legends in teaching culture. Hispanic culture certainly has enough of them and I want to give you some ideas on how you can dig a bit deeper into these legends with your students.
Let's start with La Llorona, one of the most well known myths in the Spanish-speaking world. Although there are many variations, at least one deals with a man who has left a woman (La Llorona) for a woman of higher social status. This is a great opportunity to talk students about the reality of the race based class system in colonial Mexico and have them reflect on the social hierarchies that exist even in our own schools. To bring the lesson up to current day, you can bring in some of the articles from all over the web in which Mexicans in particular complain that the Mexicans seen on TV are not indicative of the population of Mexico itself. These types of tough but real conversations create a lot of cultural connections for any student that may have felt their own trouble with social systems.
One of my favorite legends is that of El Silbón, a young and spoiled Venezuelan man who kills his father after he failed to bring him a deer for his dinner. There are great connections that can be made here with the cultural concept of "Familismo" and the idea of sacrificing ones individual needs for that of the greater family unit. These stories do a lot to communicate behaviors that are considered desirable and undesirable in the culture. There is also a great yearly music festival in Venezuela that takes the name of El Silbón that is a great tie to present day and the lasting impact of legends on a culture.
Not to be forgotten is the legend of El Cadejo and the idea that man is somehow watched over or protected by animals. This legend has great connections to the pre-colombian culture of the Mayans which believed that each person had an animal guide (called a Nahual) from birth. There was also an interesting Guatemalan artist named Carlos Loarca that created paintings using the motif of El Cadejo as he believed it played a vital role in his fight against alcoholism. There are even references to El Cadejo in popular music like the song "El Cadejo" by Ricardo Andrade which is a great tie in.
These are very interesting to research and fun lessons to create, but if you do not have the time yourself, check out my lessons on these legends (and more to come) by clicking the pictures below.