The purpose of the unit is to give students an in-depth understanding of life in South Africa during Apartheid as well as women who helped to fight against the system of Apartheid. While the unit will look at all leaders, there will be a small focus on women who were played key roles during that time period. Students study Sub-Saharan Africa as part of New Haven Public School’s curriculum. However, this has been done often without excavating details about pivotal historical events like Apartheid and its impact. Students need to make the connections between learning chunks of information so that they can make meaning of it and eventually apply it to their social or educational lives. Additionally, students will look at the parallels between life for African Americans during America’s Civil Rights Movement, which is another area that I found my students have demonstrated deficits in.
The unit will be interwoven during several months of the year beginning in late December and ending in March, which is also Women’s History month. The patterns, movements and growth of society through cultural and political developments as well as the impact of historical and cultural events and their influences on today’s society will also be discussed.
In working with my students, I observed that their level of understanding and knowledge of basic social studies concepts was lacking. It is important that students understand the world that they live in and their place in it. Through Social Studies classes students need to be able to identify the world’s major cultural, political and historical events in addition to continents and oceans. They must understand world history—ground-breaking history and advances that have been led by women or supported by women. Students must have the chance to weave layers of historical fabric into a blanket that is not full of holes. Learning about these women will excite my students because much of the history they will learn about does not exist already in their social studies textbooks.
One particularly important focus for the set of lessons is the contributions to the anti-apartheid movement by women… Thus it is necessary to bring a balance to students’ knowledge base. I have observed that many middle students are not sure where the continent of Africa is located. However, when they begin to study Africa and Africans their learning is focused on Egypt or ancient Egypt. Those are vital and important lessons to show the development of civilization by ancient peoples during that time. The struggles of the people on the continent of Africa have been many and have been complex and still are many and still are complex. For students, the continent of Africa must be more than studying the ancient Egyptians. They must see the development of black Africans as well as the connections to America via the slave trade route and a jump down the timeline so that there is a comparison to the experiences of African Americans in the United States of America. There must be a purposeful connection so that the history of South Africa’s Apartheid and America’s Jim Crow Era and Civil Rights Movement come to life from the pages of any of the text they read or words they hear through various forms to media.
Learning and teaching about women and their roles in society --whether it be through the lenses of economics, politics or others, must be done so that students can see themselves or family members (mothers, sisters, aunts, etc.) represented in history, which will in turn affect their futures and careers. I think my students learn best when they experience and “discover.” In today’s world it is important that students understand the history—ground-breaking history and advances that have been led by women or supported by women. Some supports were in the background like the women of color who were brought to the forefront of NASA’s space expeditions through their revolutionary mathematical formulas to support and lift the space industry off the ground and into the stars. Many would not know about their work and how science and math intertwined if there had not been a specific spotlight or focus on their work, which was impactful beyond space.
The same holds true for this unit’s look into social justice and human rights on the continent of Africa as well as in the United States. Information like this may only be discovered through mindful research and purposeful planning to continue to bring depth to our Social Studies curriculum.
About the Unit
- Students will learn about Apartheid (and study the political/economics/meaning).
- Students will identify, examine and analyze the start and the end of Apartheid.
- Students will analyze whether forms of Apartheid exist in South Africa or other parts of the world today.
- Students will learn about the continent of Africa its geography, history and culture.
- Students will learn about African women who fought against/were impacted by Apartheid as well as their impact on the world.
- Students will research, identify and analyze African women who were or are political leaders or cultural leaders
- Students will analyze and discuss the effects of colonization
- Students will identify and analyze the characteristics of oppressive systems
- Students will identify oppressive systems in the world
- Students will compare South Africa’s Apartheid to America’s Jim Crow Era/Civil Rights Movement
- Students will identify the difference between primary, secondary and tertiary sources and use them
- Students will compare the Soweto Massacre to killings of people in America (past and present including Black Lives Matter Movement)
- Individuals, groups of people and societies have had and continue to experience the denial of basic human rights
- Oppression (social, political and economic) and denial of human rights impacts society
- The correlation between life in South Africa for Africans during Apartheid from 1948 to the 1990s and the African American from the Jim Crow time period to Reconstruction in 1877 and the Civil Rights Movement.