“What ‘big idea’ about Africa did curator Kathleen Bickford Berzock want to convey when she decided to plan the exhibition Caravans of Gold?”
So reads a discussion/comprehension question that may soon be posed to 6th grade students across Massachusetts. This month The Block Museum of Art is honored to contribute to a curriculum development project created by the education non-profit Primary Source.
Primary Source is dedicated to advancing world history and global studies in K-12 schools. The organization educates global citizens by working with teachers to foster students’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions for thoughtful and engaged citizenship. Our colleagues at the organization “believe in the power of understanding the world from diverse perspectives and a future in which all individuals have the skills, knowledge, and empathy to engage with their local and global peers and help solve today’s pressing challenges.”
Primary Source is currently working with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to design its new model curriculum for 5th, 6th, and 7th grades social studies. Currently, with scholarly guidance from the African Studies Center at Boston University, the organization is writing an in-depth 6th grade unit (six-weeks) on ancient and medieval Africa. Block Museum videos, resources, and Teacher’s Guide created in conjunction with the exhibition Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time will help inform the developing pedagogy.
The model curriculum will particularly incorporate questions and activities from Lesson 4 of the Teacher’s Guide (“Connecting the Dots to See the Impact of Trans-Saharan Trade”) into one of the sub-units. The content and questions will support students as they focus on understanding the effects of cross-cultural exchange and Africa’s global influences, both in the medieval world and today.