Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's nice to be wanted, sometimes


I don't think I've specifically mentioned it on this blog, but I LOVE my seventh-grade girls this year! They are the sweetest, most innocent, kindest-hearted group of girls I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. I have loved getting to know them, and I'm so sad to leave them next year.

One of the moments that makes me love these girls so much happened last week in Geography class. We are studying Nigeria and its many ethnic groups, specifically how colonialism affected the groups and how the country is organized today.

I knew from the beginning that I would have to explain what "colonialism" means, so I found this image of Africa:

I just put it on the screen and asked them what they saw. The immediate response was, "Saudi Arabia!!" but I asked them to keep looking.

"What continent is this?"


Whew. Glad to see they still remembered that.

"Do you notice anything odd about this map of Africa?"

"It's pink."




They were catching on. I explained that this is a political map of Africa in 1914. I asked them how it was possible for there to be "British East Africa" in a place that we now know as "Kenya?" And what's the deal with "French West Africa?"

"Teacher, in Algeria, they speak French!"
"Maghrib, too!" (Maghrib is the Arabic name for Morocco).

I was giddy hearing all these connections being made. I explained about the colonization of Africa and what a colony is and who it benefited. They were so enthralled. I was on a major teaching high. I explained that Europeans colonized just about everything they could get their hands on, but there are very few official colonies of any European countries anymore.

What I found interesting was that in every one of the three seventh-grade classes I teach, one of the girls asked the same question:

"Who colonized [or colonialized, as one of my angels said] Saudi Arabia?"

Ah ha! I explained that Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world to have never been fully colonized by a European country. Portugal claimed a few small areas, and then there were the Ottomans, but no one country had ever taken control of all of the Arabian peninsula. 

Imagine my surprise when one of my classes collectively drooped their shoulders, dropped their jaws, and let out a very pouty, "Awwww!" One of them even said, "That sucks!"

"What?! Why are you upset by that?! You've always stood strong! No one has fully conquered your country!" I said, genuinely perplexed.

"Yeah, that means no one WANTED us!"

Hilarious! From the mouths of babes.

Vicariously yours,

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