- Please go here for Semester Guidelines for Exploring Africa 2014.
- Please go here for specific Guidelines for Part I – Fishline Timeline.
- Please go here for Africa News Weekly assignment guidelines.
In June of 2006, before I left for Morocco I couldn’t have told you the specific location of more than a dozen African nations. My BA studies in History from Michigan State University included no African courses. Neither had I traveled to or read much about the continent. Consequently, until 2007 I hadn’t taught Africa with the background knowledge or passion that my students deserved. Unfortunately, that’s typical for many Americans Social Studies teachers.
Things however, for me, changed significantly that summer. The Fulbright Foundation introduced me to Morocco and Mali, and in the process provided me access to the very soul of two strikingly different and fascinating nations. I met Arab Moroccans, proud of their country, working diligently to improve their living standards and quality of education, not just for themselves but also for all of their citizens. I traveled the Niger River in Subsaharan black Africa, in Mali. I walked through villages along the river and up into the Doggone cliffs. I visited with native teachers, businessmen and women, activists, with students and government officials. I listened and drank tea and bought all sorts of stuff in the souks of both places.
Since then, I’ve widened my search through reading, and in 2011 wrote a Master’s Thesis on the Arab Spring and overthrow of Egypt’s Hosea Mubarak. If nothing else these experiences have broken down a barrier that I had carried for long long time.
For the past five years, I’ve tried to make the study of Africa, its problems and its people, it culture and history, a focus in both Senior Current Issues and Economics. In Senior Current Issues we spend an entire semester in and out of the continent. By Exploring Africa we will work to bring individual nations into focus not only for our class, but for all of the students who come into room 112. To do this effectively you will be expected to dig into the past and explore the present of your chosen nation state. In the process you will teach us all through ANW studies, and Fishline Timelines, as well as thru presentations in music and food and culture of your chosen country. It’s my hope through our efforts at Exploring Africa that you will find the same fascination and mystery, sometimes horror and sadness, that has drawn me in its direction.
For so many reasons you need to know this continent. African people depend on first world support for the capital they require to overcome their many challenges. Africa the continent is loaded with natural resources, which will become more valuable and a target as the first world continues to drain its own coffers. As for the nation states that make up that continent, their political and economic stability is a major concern of the West’s often ineffective war on extremism; as demonstrated by the recent events in Mali. Also, we live in the wealthiest state on the face of the planet in the history of the world. We have a responsibility to care about a continent, struggling with many third world challenges, whose history is so intertwined with our own. Secondly, standardized tests including the ACT and SAT, as well as the GRE feature the African continent – this study will provide you much needed awareness, and help to improve your test scores. Third, it will get you ready for a collegiate study of the non-Western world; most students go into those classes empty; you will be awake…at least a little. And finally Africa is a very cool place to get to know and a wonderful land to travel to.
Exploring Africa will cover semester two for Senior Current Issues class of 2013. Make sure to check at the start of this post for Unit Requirements. And remember that we will interject several days of college scholarship time into the process – so that you keep your eye where it belongs, on September of 2014.
So lets get moving – and maybe our eyes can be opened to a vast new world…Inshallah.