Cultural Literacy: Ukraine

I’ve meant to get to this for some time, so here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Ukraine. This is a two-page document with a nine-sentence reading and 15 comprehension questions. I think I can safely assume that the timeliness of this raises no questions or arouses no skepticism. This is a pretty good (I did Eurasian studies as an undergraduate, so I do know the turf fairly well) general introduction to the history of the Ukraine.

However, I would say beware the opening sentence, which is a doozy of a compound. If you’re dealing with emergent or struggling readers, it might be best to recast this sentence without the succession of clauses separated by semicolons–and to turn those clauses into complete sentences separated by periods. Like most of the documents you’ll find on this site, this one is formatted in Microsoft Word, so you can manipulate it to suit the needs of your students.

Now that I’ve said that, let me bring to this material a modest critical focus. The reading characterizes the Cossacks as “Ukrainian fugitives” who “organized resistance movements.” Toward the end of the reading, after observing that “Ukraine was traditionally home to a large Jewish population,” the text rightly reports that “Many Jews left Ukraine under oppressive conditions in the nineteenth century, and thousands more were exterminated by the Nazis in World War II.” I think it’s important to enter into the record here, so to speak, the fact that the “oppressive conditions” in Ukraine were perpetrated by the Cossacks, who participated in or engineered pogroms across the Russian Empire.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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