by Assistant Head of School David Long
Galloway teachers seek to design learning opportunities for their students that encourage students to see themselves (mirrors) and others (windows) to develop cultural competence. Robin Elms's fifth grade social studies unit on Nigeria is a great example of this approach.
Students sharpened their geography skills by learning about the topography of Nigeria and exploring the ancient history of West Africa before the arrival of the Europeans. They then investigated current challenges and opportunities in a nation with over 250 different ethnic groups. For example, students made connections to the past as they connected the importance of salt in ancient Africa to the influence of oil production in Nigeria today. They also applied their geography skills to examine deforestation and how it has changed the geography of Nigeria. Students learned about the culture of Nigeria with the different ethnic groups in the country and listened to the alphabet to compare it to English! Students concluded the unit by having a round table discussion on the following essential question: “How can the people of Nigeria support the many distinct cultures that make up the country?”
Our students walked away with a deeper understanding of west Africa and an appreciation for the culture and history of Nigeria.