Teaching Three Cups of Tea:
An Integrated Curriculum Approach

About the book:

Three Cups of Tea, written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin tells the story of how Mortenson, an avid mountaineer, fails to climb Mount Everest, resulting in a life- and world-changing experience.  After recovering from altitude sickness in a remote village in northern Pakistan, Mortenson makes a vow to return and build a school for the children who do their math in the mud with sticks.  Little does he know that this will become his lifelong ambition as he makes many return trips to Pakistan, building relationships with communities who desire schools in their communities.   Years later, Mortenson and his organization, the Central Asia Institute (CAI) are responsible for the building of 145 schools in the remote, mountainous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan under the philosophy that place, people, self-sustainability, and collaborative efforts need to be respected in the creation of new schools.  He believes that peace and hope can be instilled through education Three Cups of Tea has made an impact on readers worldwide and has been required reading for special forces in the Unites States military. 

Why we need to teach this book:

When our students are adults, Pakistan and Afghanistan will continue to be in the news.  It is critical that we teach our youth about this region of the world.  They will grow to be our leaders, and only when our leadership understands the people, religion, and culture of these nations, as well as the important role education plays in developing nations will we be able to help them find peace instead of war, hope instead of desperation, and empowerment instead of dependence.  This book is one of the most important books for anybody to read, but if we want to make sustainable change, we must focus on our children.

Why integrated or multi disciplinary instruction?

First of all, there is too much content Three Cups of Tea for the English or Language Arts teacher to cover.  He or she would not do the book justice or engage the students by attempting to cover everything.

Second of all, reading instruction over the past twenty five years has clearly indicated that proficient readers comprehend at greater levels when they make connections between what they are reading and their own lives, experiences, and/or prior knowledge.  By exploring the mulit-faceted topics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, teachers build a base for students to use when encountering new names, places, or allusions to religion.  By fully teaching the novel in all disciplines, we ensure that our students get the most from the book.

Third of all, if learning is relevant to students, they learn more.  By placing the novel within the context of current events, science, and mathematic equations, they develop a purpose for reading and learning.  They become more committed to their education.

One last reason:  this is an important book that everybody should read.  If all of the teachers stop and take time to implement this book within their curriculum, it sends a powerful message to our students.  It tells them that their teachers, in a united front, have determined that not only is this novel important, but how they learn and become involved with their greater communities is equally important.

How to use this website

This website has been created to act simply as a jumping off point for you.  It has grown out of requests from other teachers who have contacted me, asking me for ideas about teaching the book.  What you will view here are ideas that we either tried at our school or ideas that grew out of attempts for "next time."  The ways to teach this book are endless and there are no boundaries.  You are all professional teachers who know how to create high-quality units.  Use the ideas as starting points and adjust them to your own individual needs.  If you come up with new and improved suggestions, please contact me so that I can add them to this site!