2019 African Studies Association – Teacher’s Workshop

Every year, the African Studies Association (ASA) hosts a Teachers’ Workshop, a day of professional development events focused on supporting K-12 teachers’ knowledge and skills to teach about Africa. We are pleased to host the Teachers’ Workshop this year at the Harvard University Center for African Studies. Sessions are relevant to K-12 English Language Arts, Social Science, and Art teachers and are taught by master teachers and experts in African studies.

Six concurrent workshops will delve into approaches to teach about Africa, the role of art and masking traditions, the importance of women’s resistance during colonial rule, ways of collaborating across borders to connect the study of Africa to the civil rights movement in the United States, and the crucial move of teaching about Africa as we mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship that bore a cargo of enslaved Africans in Virginia in 1619. A wonderful musical and dance performance will close the day, led by youth from Africano in Waltham, MA. In addition, teachers will receive a free How Big is Africa Poster and Curriculum Guide, free Teaching Africa in the 21st century books and other curriculum resources. Parking vouchers will be made available to participants and an East African lunch will be provided. Teachers will receive a certificate of attendance awarding Professional Development Points.

See further details below.

* * *

As part of the Annual Meeting of the ASA, please join us for a day of engaging professional development sessions designed for K-16 educators teaching about Africa.

8:30-9:00 Registration & Welcome

Coffee, tea, and light breakfast

9:00-9:15 Opening Remarks

9:15-10:45 Session 1A: Colonized Women Talk Back

This lesson introduces students to African women who challenged colonial rule. Using a role play activity, participants learn about African women activists from Zimbabwe to Egypt, from the 16th century Kongo Kingdom confrontation with the Portuguese to the apartheid struggle in the 1980s.
Facilitators: Dr. Vanessa Akinyi Oyugi (Howard University) & Dr. Barbara Brown (Boston University)

Session 1B: The ABCs of Teaching about Africa

This workshop will explore and highlight simplified and effective ways for teaching about Africa. Using comparative perspectives teachers will be introduced to themes that will empower them to teach about the continent more creatively and effectively. Participants will also receive free copies of Teach Africa: Taking Africa to the Classroom.
Facilitator: Dr. Agnes Ngoma Leslie (University of Florida)

10:45-11:00 Break

11:00-12:30 Session 2A: Problematizing the Mask

This presentation will explore the strategies, challenges, imperatives, pitfalls, and potential rewards of including African masking traditions in the k-12 art curriculum, with implications for masks in general. While not a requirement, it is suggested that participants take the session before attending Session 3A: Approaches to Making and Using Masks.
Facilitator: Dr. Felice Amato (Boston University)

11:00-12:30 Session 2B: 1619’s Harvest: Stories of Resilience and Resistance

In 1619, the transatlantic world was a changing world; people’s lives were being transformed by forces larger than the individual. This session will focus on examining the lives of people who lived through this transition. Using stories of resilience and resistance, activities will probe the experiences of people who began their lives as free people and analyze how they moved beyond the transitory condition of enslavement.
Facilitator: Roberta Logan Masks (Boston University)

12:30-1:30 Lunch & Keynote by Dr. Joyce Hope Scott

1:30-2:50 Session 3A: Approaches to Making and Using Masks

Participants in this session will “think through making,” with the goal to become more comfortable with the tools and techniques of creating cardboard masks. The purpose is to think differently about how to teach masks in the classroom in a way that helps students join in the exuberance and universal appeal of these powerful phenomena without appropriating or decontextualizing. While not a requirement, it is suggested that participants interested in this session also register for Session 2A: Teaching Africa through Art: Problematizing the Mask.
Facilitator: Dr. Felice Amato (Boston University)

Session 3B: Collaborative Learning between U.S. and South African Classrooms

This session provides frameworks and tools from a cross-border collaborative project between U.S. and South African teachers. The two presenters (one in the U.S. and one in Johannesburg, South Africa) will discuss their joint curriculum design that brings together civil rights and apartheid struggles. Facilitators will also discuss the benefits and challenges of cross-border collaborations and ways teachers can adapt similar programs in their contexts. Student voices and student work will be featured to showcase the possibilities of transnational collaborative learning and teaching.
Facilitators: Thomas Thurston, Waltrina Kirland-Mullens & Mary Khuduge (Yale University)

2:50-3:00 Break

3:00-3:30 Musical Performance by youth from Africano in Waltham, MA.

For inquiries regarding the 2019 Teachers’ Workshop, please contact Dr. Elsa Wiehe, ewiehe@bu.edu

Full program description and presenter bios coming soon!

For $25 registration fee, participants will be provided with:

  • Hands-on learning experiences led by experts in pedagogy and African Studies
  • A certificate of attendance for Professional Development Points from the Boston University African Studies Center
  • How Big is Africa Poster & Curriculum Guide, and other teaching resources
  • Free books
  • Access to the African Studies Association Book Fair and all other African Studies Association Meeting 2019 panels
  • Breakfast & a delicious African-inspired lunch
  • Vouchers for discounted parking in Cambridge

Workshops are relevant to K-12 ELA, social science, and art teachers.


See related discussions of teaching African history with rare and fragile materials.


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