Why Don’t American Teachers know Much About Africa ( actually Geography?)


Bonnie Bracey Sutton

orienteeringSome teachers follow their interests and innovate. Some teachers have not had  geography that was taught as a part of their teacher preparation. Africa is perhaps more on the radar to learn about for teachers who teach in urban areas. We teach about Black History so there is that linkage. But the link to slavery might be uncomfortable for many.. In schools often what we teach is prescribed by curriculum. I taught then, the Gifted and Talented and multicultural  in a team teaching situation.

I learned using the Hilda Taba methods , I read Black History widely and then I was taught by the National Geographic Summer Institute. We  had lectures, lessons, presentations, films, and the emerging technologies. We learned from all of the divisions and we created and crafted lessons plans to share with the members of the Institute. We were taught the tenets of Geography.

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Bonnie Bracey Sutton sharing Sunshine Online Books in the Languages of South Africa with Educators at an IEarn Conference.

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I did get to work in Africa, in South Africa, Namibia, Tunisia, Egypt. I traveled to more countries than that. What was important was that I had the support of an administrator,and there were State Dept. parents , and  school board support and grant funding.

Resources available to me? The Alliances of the National Geographic Education Division, Earthwatch, The Smithsonian African Museum of Art, the anthropology division of the Smithsonian.The Kennedy Center Arts Edge.

There were people in map division who gave me maps, and in the book division who shared books and research. There was even a photographer who came to my class to share his work and to teach the children the work of being a photographer for the National Geographic.

We learned about map projections and had fun with the Upside Down Map. and the True map of Africa.

Kids were interested in the foods of Africa. Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons helped to teach that and we cooked a bunch of recipes in the classroom. Cooking is my hobby and so I had lots of cookbooks from various parts of Africa. ( Smithsonian Book Store)  Jollof Rice was the easiest to do within the school time on a hot plate. It was very good.

From working with the World Summit  on Media for Children I have wonderful videos.

National Geographic Education is a part of the National Geographic Education and Children’s Media division. The division as a whole creates best-in-class products, experiences, and programs that teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to make it a better place. We educate by sparking curiosity, imparting knowledge through storytelling, and empowering action. We support lifelong learning by providing opportunities for kids, families, and educators to join global communities, where they can connect, learn, create, and share. And we inspire the new generation of global citizens to discover the world’s past, celebrate its present, and protect its future.
National Geographic Education taught me to use geography . The resources are too vast to list.

There are lectures at the National Geographic where children , parents and I learned from the explorer and adventures themselves.

Did I forget to mention the magazines. I did.And music and dance and the evolution of slavery.

I teach that too.

I believe that the emphasis on testing excludes the choices to teach a rich content.

Here is what I was replying to.

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/09/09/438672718/john-oliver-says-u-s-students-learn-virtually-nothing-about-africa?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20150910

I noticed historical reference to the partition  of Africa was not given.

Robert Pondiscio took a swipe at American teachers and what they teach or know about Africa. John Oliver is a comedian. Like Donald Trump I guess he is allowed to skewer every one because making people laugh is what he does. But Pondiscio is immersed in education, and should have been kind enough to point out that there has been pioneering work going on at a lot of places to help teachers learn, share and teach about Africa.

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