Studying the Pacific Rim in Grade 9

The 9th Grade Pacific Rim main lesson saw the class take to the road for a morning at Ocean Beach. Once there, we established a comfortable place from which to view the Pacific Ocean - its wave patterns (it happened to be the high tide) and the sky above. Students sketched their own version of the water and environment and took notes on what thoughts and feelings it brought them. These notes were then turned into original poems, done with Leslie Marmon Silko’s poem, ‘Prayer to the Pacific’, in mind.

The main lesson is an interdisciplinary course that helps to orient the student in both a Bay Area context and within the Pacific Rim. We look at the geography of China, Japan, and Hawaii, as well as their ancient histories and beliefs; such as yin-yang, feng shui, kami spirits, and hula. Our class reader is local writer Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden.

We were also lucky to have visiting lecturers: Ms. Hou on the evolution of Chinese calligraphy, Sophie Kawada (from the Senior class) on Japanese New Year and food, Ms. Allingham on Hawaiian hula, and Mr Pittenger on migrations around the Pacific and tectonic movement.

Nicholas Wong, Humanities Teacher