#8 Educate Yourself

By , November 6, 2023 1:23 pm

Learning to paint has obviously required me to broaden my art education: while I primarily watch painting videos, I have also read a fair amount, not just how-to books. But there is so much to learn still, drawing in perspective, in particular, and sunsets, ironically. The same applies to learning new topics for world history.

As far as being a history teacher, I am currently in the process of educating myself about the history of Africa. This is a large task that is worth taking time to process. In world history it is possible to just “throw” topics at students for them to investigate without knowing much about them yourself. While I like the investigation method, I still think the teacher should have a decent amount of background information. I am not going to teach aspects of African history to my students; they are going to discover and inquire. However, I am the driving force behind this course, so I need to get my driver’s license, so to speak.

In my future video (in progress until my learning is more solidified) I will share why I need to include more African history in my grade 11 world history course and how I might go about putting this into practice.

For now, here are some thoughts about caveats for introducing African topics into world history.

  1. Include a range of time periods since African history is long and diverse.
  2. Include topics from a range of geographic regions since Africa is a huge continent with many diverse histories.
  3. Don’t just focus on the coming of Islam to Africa.
  4. Don’t just focus on African interactions with Europeans.

Africa is not 100% missing from my current course but it’s definitely far too sparse. It’s crucially important for all students to understand that our entire species originated in Africa. I have a small section of the paleolithic topic where I use a video clip about forest clearing in West Africa. I include such people as Mansa Musa, Malian ruler, in my middle ages unit. And I have a section on the Kingdom of Kush and its interactions with Egypt. And Egypt, of course, but people should not fool themselves about including African content solely by studying Egypt.

Sounds piddly when I write it out.

Here are some topics I am working on:

  • Great Zimbabwe – how to include it as a case study similar to my Maya inquiry or Indus River Valley mystery.
Sculptures found at Great Zimbabwe from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zimbabwe_Bird#/media/File:Soapstone_birds_on_pedestals.jpg

  • Deciding how and where to include aspects of Aksum, Bantu migrations, and maybe one or two more topics, as yet undecided as there’s a lot to learn about first.

So stay tuned as I share my thoughts.

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