Saturday, April 23, 2011

Middle Aging and Revisiting the Middle Ages

Mustapha has been assigned a history paper on the middle ages and came to my house last night to learn about the time period. He brought his materials and I helped him to establish an outline for the essay and strategies for taking massive amounts of history and plugging it into a six page assignment. We looked through his books and deciphered important details.

After I came home, I continued doing research and came across the above video. Helpful? Probably not.

What was most interesting with working with a Liberian youth is how, in his eyes, he was first coming to understand the European traditions of teaching history and how, in his words, he never learned anything about this in Africa or his public school education in the United States. I wonder at times what it must be like to suddenly be plopped in 21st century America and told, "you must show you know as much as everyone else." This must be hard when his traditions have not delivered him to the same traditions passed from generation to generation in Western worlds.

I suppose the important part is to help him make a connection with European history (including Medieval times) and what is known about Mandingo people in Africa. Working with him helped me to see how Euro-centric our traditions are. Of course, the fact that a Liberian youth migrated to the USA in 2005 is also evidence of that European history....colonization of the United States and then the U.S's colonization of Liberia.

It is all connected.

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