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How do you teach kids about Africa?

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Quick Answer

To teach kids about Africa, focus on humanity and not mere scientific data related to plants and animals, and respect differences but highlight commonalities. Don't merely focus on problems, such as disease and war in Africa, and study one or two countries at a time.

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Full Answer

Teaching kids about Africa potentially entails designing a unique curriculum that relies upon maps, interactive online resources and existing texts, both fiction and non-fiction. To focus on Africa's humanity, discuss the lives of prominent Africans, such as Nobel Laureates Wangari Matthai and Nelson Mandela or singer Miriam Makeba.

Discuss the music, dress and folklore of a particular African country and contrast it against your own. Underline the similarities between your students and Africans with reminders about universal themes, such as freedom, justice, community and family. Ask your students to compare their clothes to those of Africans to discover more personal similarities and differences.

Try not to emphasize darker subject matter, such as famine, war and disease, or discuss such subjects along with constructive and positive developments in contemporary African society and history. Overemphasis on the struggles of Africa's people suggests there are no other, more uplifting preoccupations, which may be statistically untrue in many cases.

Since Africa is the second largest continent in the world and contains roughly 50 countries, devoting your curriculum to one or two countries at a time prevents overloading your students. The African Studies Center at Boston University recommends Nigeria for its ethnic and geopolitical complexity. South Africa and Morocco are equally diverse historically and politically.

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