Thursday, September 02, 2004

Teaching about Africa

Teaching about Africa. This is a good essay which discusses ways teachers can instruct American students about Africa. This includes some information on history. An older version of this essay is also available under the same title of Teaching about Africa from 1986.

From the site:

People from African countries who visit the United States often are stunned by how little Americans know about African cultures. Africa is a large continent more than three times the size of the continental United States, and it contains over 50 independent countries. One out of every three member states in the United Nations is an African country. One out of every ten people in the world lives on the African continent. Increasingly, the United States has trading and corporate ties to African countries. Now, more than ever, our students need a basic understanding of Africa.

SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHING ABOUT AFRICA

Four key suggestions are presented.

CONFRONT MYTHS AND STEREOTYPES
It seems that no other part of the world conjures up so many myths in the minds of Americans as Africa. A good way to begin a study of the continent is to identify and dispel some of the myths and stereotypes commonly held by Americans. To aid in the discussion, it is useful to compare these American misconceptions of Africa with the myths and stereotypes people in African countries have about the United States. For instance, many Americans believe that all Africans are poor, while many Africans think that all Americans are rich. Americans commonly perceive Africa as a violent, dangerous place. People in African countries often believe the same thing about America. To assist in the discussion of this topic, LESSONS FROM AFRICA (Merryfield 1989) includes a lesson entitled "Stereotypes Kenyan and Liberian Youth Have about Americans."

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