Teaching About African Wildlife

Students in the U.S. generally have a fascination with animals. While this is wonderful, it is a serious problem when they associate Africa with animals only. Perhaps your students would be interested in contextualizing animals. You could start out your unit without any of the expensive materials with a simple, provocative and true statement for discussion: Most Africans have never seen wild animals. The next step would be to ask your students to hypothesize why animals are so big in our imagination of Africa and why we in the U.S. focus so much attention on animals when we look at Africa. This will lead your students to an important question: how do we get our ideas about the world, especially about Africa?

It might interest your students to know that many and probably most African capitals have zoos.

Having said all this, your first response as a teacher may be a chagrined ‘I didn’t know that!’ I want you to know that I hear this frequently because rarely have we gotten the chance to really learn about Africa and to unlearn the stereotypes that are still in the air we breathe.

“Beyond Wildlife: Teaching About Africa and Stereotypes” Social Studies and the Young Learner Article (2008)