A Primer for Teaching African History: Ten Design Principles.

Author:Nti, Kwaku
Position:AFRICA - Book review

Getz, Trevor R. A Primer for Teaching African History: Ten Design Principles. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

Trevor R. Getz's A Primer for Teaching African History is an insightful manual that presents a new approach to teaching African history and ultimately African studies and world history. The book, which is designed to enhance the learning experience for students at a time of burgeoning interest in these fields, is particularly significant because it reinforces the urgent need to and importance of studying Africa objectively and intellectually at all levels, from high school through undergraduate and graduate college programs.

The author affirms the relevance of established methods and designs for teaching African history while at the same time offering "possible points of departure for future work on content, course design, and pedagogy" (p. 1). Stopping short of calling for a cookie-cutter approach to the teaching of African history, Getz advocates a strategic course design and delivery method that is very mindful of the innovations inherent in "the collective wisdom of the profession" (p. 6). Such curricula must also take into account the many contemporary approaches and systems--a strategy that he metaphorically links to the Central African lukasa, a memory board, an image of which is used for the cover art and frontispiece of this book.

Part one, which has two chapters, advocates the use of carefully selected teaching methods, such as the use of memory boards, rather than the use of randomly selected lessons from a textbook to communicate factual knowledge. This structure has a student-centered approach that takes into account their knowledge, or lack thereof, about Africa in the design of multidimensional courses that cover moral, philosophical, intellectual, and material topics. In part two, Getz focuses on navigating the complexities of space, time, and identity. The spatial dimensions take into account the various geographical contexts, for example diasporic, global, regional, and continental, when designing narratives and themes. The time component addresses the potentially overwhelming issues of periodization of the long and winding history of humanity on the continent. For identity, he considers the complex dynamics of gender, ethnicity, and nationalism. Getz also contemplates the...

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