Sustain and Protect the Ecosystem

Project location: KENYA, Ol ari Nyiro
Project start date: September 2005 - Project end date: September 2010
Project number: 2005-22
Beneficiary: GALLMANN MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

 

Anuual Project Report - 2005

Xamul aay na, laajtewul a ko raw.

Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.

Igbo Proverb

 

This year's annual report must commence with the fantastic news that the Ministry of Education has recently approved for the 4 Generations to be integrated into the national curriculum.  The 4 Generations has been designated a ‘Core Team' from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture to oversee the process.  This report will discuss this in further detail below.

 

1.0 Background-

 

The 4 Generations was borne from the observation that ‘with the introduction of obligatory primary education in Kenya, most rural children spend the majority of their formative years far from home.  By the time they leave school they have acquired basic literacy skills, but they have not been exposed to the teaching of their elders or the ancient understanding of their tribe. Orally transmitted indigenous knowledge and history is being lost and the social fabric which maintains stability and continuity in many rural communities is crumbling. The present generation no longer has access to the reservoir of knowledge that constituted the core of African identity.'

 

The common belief amongst many youth is that the knowledge and traditions of the past cannot exist harmoniously with the process of modernisation, and that therefore this indigenous knowledge must be abandoned in exchange for westernised values. The result is a loss of identity and very little respect amongst the youth for their own history and knowledge which are increasingly being caste as false relics of the past. History in schools starts in 1900 with the arrival of colonialism, all that came before that has not been recorded and is rapidly being forgotten. In the past, livelihoods depended on close observation of nature and the preservation of the biodiversity of an intact ecosystem. Today many children have forgotten how to read the signs of nature and this tragic loss is having fatal repercussions country-wide. The 4 Generations aims to give Kenyan youth the motivation to record all this for themselves so that a deeper understanding of their cultures and the social systems that still exert influence today may be better understood with respect. An understanding of culture and the social, economic, hierarchic and historic ties that bind groups of people together or spatially, or how these people adapt to changing environments is crucial to development and policy making.

 

In 1980 the Brandt Commission on international development observed that "cultural identity gives people dignity". In 2001, the World Summit on Sustainable development stated that respect for cultural diversity is essential for sustainable development. In 1996 the World Commission on Culture and Development insisted that culture was factored into development policy since "economic criteria alone could not provide a programme for human dignity and well being".  The value and importance of cultural diversity in the rapidly changing Africa of today is widely acknowledged, yet in practice, little is done in policy making to reflect this. Perhaps this is such a vast subject that in reality very little is done to address it or to truly understand its ramifications and influences. In 2005, the Commission for Africa report to the G8 notes that ‘the inattention to culture in the policy-making of many donor countries goes some way to explain the failure of so many development initiatives in Africa over the years'.   

It may be only a humble beginning but we hope that the initiation of the 4 Generations as a nation-wide effort may go some way to reversing these trends.  We hope that this project will stimulate Kenyans to look into their cultures and past and oral traditions and literature with respect and to recognise the value of this today.  We hope that it will foster a greater understanding between people. We hope that a greater understanding of our cultures and how they adapt and cope with change may serve policy makers in their development decisions.  

 

 Culture and change-

When we speak about the culture of a place, we are talking about far more than its artistic expressions or its ‘cultural products'- literature, music, dance, art sculpture, theatre, film, sport. All of these are, of course, important expressions of the culture of any social group and are part of the shared joy in the business of being alive. But culture is more than all of that. Culture is about shared patterns of identity, symbolic meaning, aspiration, and the relationships between individuals and groups within that society. Culture is also about the relation between ideas and perspectives, about self-respect and a sense of security, about how individuals are socialised and values are formed and transmitted. It is also deeply intertwined with  power and wealth. What it is not- contrary to the views of some- is an expression of unchanging tradition. Culture is both dynamic and reactive, it both influences political and economic conditions and is influenced by them.

 "An understanding of the cultures of Africa shows that development means putting a greater emphasis on increasing human dignity within a community."  Pg 121, Our Common Interest, The Commission for Africa Report to the G8, 2005.

  

 

2.0Achievements-

With the backing of the Ford Foundation and the Nando Peretti Foundation, the 4 Generations has now successfully completed the first 2 ½ years of its implementation.  During this period all the aims of the 4 Generations, as stipulated in the original project proposals have been achieved and indeed surpassed:

 

2.1 Schools and Students-

 

2.1.i Achievements- In 2004, we devised a questions based curriculum which we tested with a group of 35 Primary School children from Kikuyu, Kalenjin, Samburu and Turkana ethnic groups.  We monitored the group very closely to see where we could change or improve on the curriculum guide. In 2005, we evaluated our progress and findings from 2004 (see 2004 Annual Report) and implemented necessary changes.  In 2005 we extended the project to encompass 6 primary schools in the area- the 2 extra schools host pupils mainly from the Pokot tribe. We also worked with a Secondary school- Churo Secondary School, which has pupils from many different ethnic backgrounds. In 2005 we worked with about 160 students closely, several others joined 4 Generations lessons because they enjoy it but were not tracked closely in terms of marking and homework.

 

We have had several schools in the area asking us if they can join in the project, we sadly do not currently have the personnel and transport capacity to allow for this but have suggested that next year we would allow teachers from those schools to attend our lessons.  We  can then give them all the print-outs and questions so that they can implement the course in their schools.

 

In all of the schools we work with both teachers and pupils have been immensely supportive and enthusiastic.  Teachers have commented that 4 Generations pupils show a marked improvement in their overall academic performance and also in their confidence and capacity to think laterally. Head teachers have written letters to the extent that the 4 Generations has greatly contributed to the overall performance of their students- giving them confidence, nurturing an inquisitiveness and tutoring them in writing, debating, presentation, drama and memory skills.

 

 

See appendix 1 for letters of support to the 4 Generations from head teachers of schools.

 

2.1.ii Recommendations- We have found that whilst Primary students are full of enthusiasm and energy for the project there is also great merit in extending the course to secondary students too. With Secondary schools students one can really analyse the symbolism behind stories and also go into greater depth. We have also found that secondary students are at a phase in their lives when they question and explore their identity and find it important and interesting to do so.  This is the period in which they strive to reconcile the rapid changes that are happening culturally and educationally with their home lives and family.  We think the 4 Generations is an important tool which can help them form their individual identities with a respect for their cultures and their past whilst making this knowledge relevant for the future. It is nonetheless very important to introduce the 4 Generations concepts and course at primary level because this will theoretically reach almost every child in the country. Primary school students will gain enormously from being introduced to the 4 Generations methods of teaching- which aim to foster curiosity, lateral mindedness and creativity, at such an early age.

 

2.2 Curriculum and Lessons-

 

In 2005, we expanded on the original lesson guidelines explored in 2004. (See annual report 2004).  These lessons guidelines will form the backbone of our discussions with the Kenya Institute for Education whilst deciding and finalising the 4 Generations course that will go into schools nationally and also to see how 4 Generations ideas and knowledge and principles can be integrated or ‘infused' into the rest of the syllabus in other subjects.

 

Appendix 2 is a detailed guide to the lessons we have undertaken in 2005.

 

2.2.i Implementation- Practically, the 4 Generations works in the following way-

We have after-school lessons with children once every week. In these lessons we introduce students to the concept which we want to explore in the week ahead and give them relevant examples of ideas or stories or knowledge from other parts of the world.  We then give them a set of questions- which pertains to the weekly subject and which encourages them to explore the ideas and questions for themselves. They have the whole week to go and discover the answers from the community (generally elders and wisdom keepers).  During the week the 4 Generations staff, as well as appointed teachers from the schools give the students guidance and support where needed. The following week we meet again and students are given the opportunity to present their findings and answers to the rest of the class. Sometimes we organise exchanges with other schools- especially if children come from different ethnic backgrounds.  We use a lot of drama and art in our lessons and always encourage children to think as laterally as possible because we believe that in the world of today and given the socio economic conditions of most of our pupils, this is a skill that will greatly determine the success of an individual.

 

            Each set of questions is aimed at eliciting a story or a body of knowledge.  We then explore the symbolism and significance behind that story/ knowledge. We illustrate to pupils the relevance of the messages embedded in the stories and the knowledge they discover in the world of today. We use the body of indigenous knowledge to make school work relevant and memorable to our students. For example- in the first term we look mainly at mythology, legend and local history because it is a fun and accessible way to introduce the children to the oral process, methods of teaching and the concepts- we look at creation stories, hero stories, moral fables, famous personalities in the past and local historical events. Each week we pick a different topic we have introductory reading material followed by questions, the children go and find the answers to the questions and then during class we discuss what those stories teach us about ourselves, the  morals and messages illustrated in the stories and we explore questions of identity.  In the  second term we look at the relationship between culture and nature- which in this country is very rich because of all the different ways in which culture has adapted to different environments.  We use stories or ideas like animal totems to teach about ecology, geography, conservation, for example. We record indigenous knowledge pertaining to nature- such as herbal medicines, wild foods, indigenous methods of predicting weather and so forth. The third term is often very busy for children with exams - we have several different ‘modules' or optional lessons which we have been experimenting with students- from the intangible- questions of God, life and death , stages of life, magic to more practical things- like recording songs and lyrics. We also use this term for many practical sessions- walks with herbalists, sessions in the evening with star experts, gatherings with laibons and so forth.As well as our mid-week lessons we often have weekend sessions- which take the whole day, where we have been practicing drama or having sessions with elders and wisdom keepers such as herbalists, laibons, visionaries, elders who have great story telling skill. The 4 Generations has become so popular amongst our students and teachers that we even have them asking to come during the holidays.            We type and archive summaries of every week's work. In 2006, we plan to work in conjunction with the National Museum to archive our findings. It is the aim that one day these stories will form anthologies which can be used educationally or as reference sources for future generations.              We work very closely with teachers from other subjects to see how we can assist them through our 4 Generations sessions- for example with vocabulary and comprehension, or with learning the Kenyan map through sacred places, or with learning about plant life and ecology prior to our sessions with herbalists.           

 

2.2.ii Recommendations-      We have found that the methods used for teaching are of crucial importance in the 4 Generations.  We foster a process of inquiry which encourages curiosity, initiative and lateral thinking. The questions-based nature of the course which we have adopted so far has been instrumental to our success. Not only does it allow for us to discover knowledge which we did not even know existed, it forces students to take initiative and leadership in the learning process and gives them ‘ownership' of the work they do and the knowledge, stories and ideas they uncover.  Students go out of their way to discover stories and knowledge which they can then share with their peers. We make it very clear with our students that we are not really ‘teaching' them as such- they are driving their own learning process and to an extent teaching ‘us' through they answers they give in response to the questions and the ideas that they form in reaction to their discoveries.   We feel strongly that these methods must be maintained when the 4 Generations expands and goes into the hands of teachers country-wide. We use learning tools like art and drama and mime wherever possible. We feel that these are skills which must be encouraged and honed in students from an early age to ensure their comparative success in adult life. It is our aim that by June 2006, we will have a fully comprehensive 4 Generations curriculum guide which will not only dictate the subject matter to be learned each week and how this can be integrated into other school subjects, but also the best teaching methods to use for these topics. Head teachers have written letters to the extent that the 4 Generations has greatly contributed to the overall performance of their students- giving them confidence, nurturing an inquisitiveness and tutoring them in writing, debating, presentation, drama and memory skills.Further recommendations will be discussed under the review of our plans with the Ministry of Education.

 

2.3 Elders and Community-

 

We are now working with over 100 elders.  Work continues recording their knowledge and ideas. We have organised several gatherings for elders, often from different tribes, to meet each other and share knowledge and experience. We continue to search for elders who are highly knowledgeable and respected across the country.  We have full support of the community. We have organised several community gatherings to assess the popularity of the 4 Generations and to have people's input in its progress. We have many volunteers coming to help us record knowledge.  At the beginning of December we were approached by the National Museums to see how our work and recordings could contribute to their ‘Culture and Ethnography' department which apparently needs serious attention. Discussions will continue in 2006.

 

2.4 Trip-

As outlined in the 2004 report, we found it necessary in some cases to travel further a field to find highly respected and knowledgeable elders. We have undertaken a few trips finding elders along the way.  In 2005 one major trip was undertaken to the Northern parts of Kenya- Mt Nyiro and the Samburu District.  We were honoured to be invited to a Samburu male circumcision ceremony:  Sveva Gallmann, the project coordinator, was granted with the guardianship of a 15 year old Samburu boy called Moses Londorupe from the Lmasula clan who was undergoing his rites of passage ceremonies this year. Sveva and Micah from the 4 Generations team decided to join Moses and his family during this important time.  We travelled North towards Mt Nyiro, the ceremonies were taking place near a village called Ngilai at the heart of Samburu country.  We recorded every element of the ceremonies-songs and  blessings, prayers and advice, emotions and opinions.  We took the opportunity to find all the great Samburu ‘sages' well known and famous throughout Samburu society.  They all live in this area, close to their sacred and holy mountain- Nyiro. We climbed to the sacred sacrificial sites on Nyiro and recorded how the Samburu community have formed rules and methods to conserve the ecology and nature of Mt Nyiro. A full report of the trip with photographs and quotes is following this one.

 

2.5 Drama

  • We have now written and produced 3 plays based on stories from 4 Generations lessons. These plays are performed by the students and tour local towns and villages- they prove immensely popular and also serve to ignite a curiosity in those who would not be directly influenced by the 4 Generations. This is an aspect of the 4 Generations which most definitely needs more budget attention and support.  We have held discussions with a few Nairobi- based drama organisations to see whether collaborations would be possible.  The Laikipia Nature Conservancy has also hosted a number of internationally renowned drama directors including Marco Bagliani who recently produced the very popular ‘Black Pinocchio' and came to the LNC to practice his next play.  We are currently in the process of putting together a drama proposal for funding.
  • Art is also a very powerful tool- we have accumulated several artistic interpretations from our students and hope that by the end of 2006 we will have enough for an exhibition.

 

2.6- Volunteers

We have many, many students from around the world requesting to volunteer.  We take on several every year and they are instrumental in helping us record knowledge and teach children.  It is our hope that by mid 2006, in conjunction with the Kenya Institute of Education, we will have finalised the curriculum guide and teaching methods and created a book which is designed to help teachers teach 4 Generations- in Kenya or with concepts that can be adapted anywhere in the world.  We will then start to train volunteers on 4 Generations methods-  we hope to receive many volunteers who will later be taking up teaching posts all over the world.  They will help us to teach the 4 Generations in other parts of the world - creating a web of knowledge and laying the grounds for greater understanding amongst people.  Eventually the 4 Generations may move into these areas in a more formal capacity. 

The Future- 

Integration into the Kenyan National Curriculum-

 

Following meetings with various key personnel in the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education, in which the rationale and philosophy behind the 4 Generations and the topics and teaching methods were discussed, it was decided that the 4 Generations reflects the principles and ideas which the Kenya Institute for Education is trying to incorporate into the new curriculum.  It was agreed that the 4 Generations should be made available to students all over the country initially as part of the co-curricular program but to eventually integrate it into the core curriculum itself. The following is an outline of what has so far been agreed and a rough ‘road map' of where we go from here.

 The people- 

  • We are putting together a ‘Board' of people who will guide the progress of the 4 Generations as related to its integration into the Kenyan National curriculum.  So far this Board consists of  Mr. Silvers Anami, the Director for Culture, Mr. Enos Oyaya the Director for Quality, Assurance and Standars in the Ministry of Education, Ms. Mary W. Njoroge, the Director of Basic Education. We are in communication with people from the National Museums to see who from the Dept of Culture and Ethnography can join the team.
  • The above mentioned people are currently in the process of convening a ‘core team' to the 4 Generations- this ‘core team' will consist of a syllabus/ curriculum design expert from the Institute of Education, subject inspectors from all the subjects- to see how 4 Generations can be ‘infused' into their subjects, personnel from the various departments in the Ministry of Education to ensure that acceptable methods and ideas are being used. We will also have personnel from the Ministry of Culture who can help to guide us on content and geographical-cultural variations that may need to be taken into consideration.  We hope also to work with somebody from the National Museums to ensure that all gathered information or answers to the lesson-questions can be recorded and archived. Meetings held in December with personnel from the Culture and Ethnography Dept revealed that the department is currently under a major restructuring and they are very keen to work with us to see how we can help them record ‘intangible culture'.
  • The above mentioned team of people will meet regularly to discuss progress and plans.
  • This team will meet on January 18th 2006 to discuss and formalise future progress.
  • International help or advisors with previous experience of teaching indigenous knowledge may be called upon in future for guidance.

 The process-

 Personnel from the Ministry from Education the Ministry of Culture are currently collaborating to pick the initial 60 Primary schools and 20 Secondary schools which are to take part in the 4 Generations. These schools will be from every Province and will be picked to reflect cultural and socio-economic diversity.

  • The 4 Generations will initially go into these schools as a co-curricular activity- weekly lessons as described under the current implementation of the project in sections 2.2.i and 2.2.ii.
  • The 4 Generations lessons and principles will then gradually be integrated into the rest of the curriculum.  We feel strongly that ‘culture' surrounds and influences us in every sphere of life and development- its integration into the curriculum should reflect this and thus not only be expressed in a separate 4 Generations lesson but it should be infused into every subject in the curriculum and its relevance explored.
  • The project coordinator will work with the Core Team during the first quarter of 2006. Their aims will be to-
  • Review the current questions based curriculum as devised by the 4 Generations team and to work on an acceptable curriculum which will be introduced into the 60 Primary and 20 Secondary schools. This will follow much the same pattern as described under sections 2.2.i and 2.2.ii. The Primary curriculum will however be simpler and less in-depth than the secondary curriculum (see section 2.1.ii). Personnel from the Ministry of Culture will assist to advise us where it may be worth incorporating regional ‘modules' the results of which can be shared in later years.
  • Create 2 curriculum guides- one for primary students and one for secondary students- with weekly lessons and teaching methods which can be used by teachers and applied anywhere. 
  • Look at the current curriculum and see how 4 Generations principles and knowledge and questions can be integrated into the rest of the curriculum.  Once this has been passed by subject inspectors and by the Director of Quality, Assurance and Standards, integration into teaching will commence across the country.  It is hard to predict the timing at this stage. 
  • Once steps 1 and 2 above have been reached, workshops will be organised where the designated (or volunteer) teachers from the selected 80 schools will be trained on 4 Generations philosophy, teaching, and methods. They will then commence the application in their schools.
  • The teachers will be responsible for discovering the elders and wisdom keepers in their areas and those who have a lot of knowledge to contribute. They will also be responsible for maintaining dialogue with these people to ensure that children are gathering correct knowledge and also to ensure that no pockets of knowledge are being overlooked.
  • Community events will be organised to ensure community ownership and participation.
  • Current 4 Generations personnel will be instrumental to giving support in the initial phases and ensuring that the project is running as it should.
  • Meetings amongst all 4 Generations teachers will be held every term to discuss progress and recommendations.

 

 The ramifications-

There are several other aspects of the 4 Generations which will have to be taken into consideration once the above is being implemented-

  • The recording of all gathered knowledge.  It is essential that the knowledge gathered through the 4 Generations is properly recorded for future posterity and for the examination of current trends and beliefs.  At the moment it seems as if this is a 2 stage process- the teachers must be responsible for summarising and recording all the knowledge in their areas and checking facts with elders and wisdom keepers.  Then the resources must be found to have a dedicated person collecting and cataloguing the stories and knowledge correctly and assessing where further research must be done.  This element of the project could possibly be conducted in partnership with the National Museums of Kenya.
  • Publication of written material- Booklets and learning resources will have to be written and printed. Story books for the Kenyan market must be made- perhaps illustrated by colourful Kenyan artists.  It would also be a good idea to make a book of the biographies and photographs of all the elders, sages, wisdom keepers we use with their stories and an outline of their knowledge.  These people will eventually be classed as ‘teachers' or ‘leaders' to be proud of- every culture needs its heroes.
  • Drama and Art- there is a possibility of a 4 Generations Drama competition across the country, alternatively another category may be added to the already existing National Drama competition which occurs every year between secondary schools.
  • Cultural exchange- it is imperative that students learn also about the knowledge gathered in different parts of the country and from different tribes. Through the collating of gathered knowledge as stipulated in point 1 above- we will incorporate examples into the 4 Generations lessons but also use in other subjects too- in conjunction with the ‘infusing' of the 4 Generations into the rest of the curriculum.  It would also be important to create student exchanges and teacher exchanges so that knowledge and ideas can be shared first hand.  

    Proposals for funding will be written separately for each of the above. 

    Other Absolute Necessities- 

    1-      Legal and Financial Structure-  The 4 Generations is growing not only in scope but also in terms of material resource needs. It is our sincere hope that the Kenya 4 Generations will form a model that can be honed and adapted for use elsewhere.  It is essential that the 4 Generations becomes a legal and financial entity in itself.  Initially a Kenyan organisation with a 501-c-3 status in the USA. Lawyers have been approached and we are awaiting results and quotes.  We hope that one of our contacts in the USA will help us to complete the process over there pro-bono.  We will need the financial resources to make this happen in Kenya.

    2-      Booklets- The 4 Generations has now been going for 2 ½ years. In this time we have gathered over 600 stories, cataloguing of medicinal herb knowledge from various herbalists is underway. Many elders have dedicated hours to recounting their knowledge and ideas and students too have extended enormous effort with writing beautiful stories and poems and painting pictures and writing plays . We now need to select quotes, stories, drawings, photographs and make a booklet which explains the 4 Generations and its scope.  This will not only serve as a fundraising and awareness raising document, it will also immensely boost the morale of the people who have so dedicatedly contributed to the 4 Generations thus far.

    3-      Website-  It is crucial for us to have a website.  We need a forum to post gathered knowledge and ideas. Also, the 4 Generations is already expanding beyond Kenya- we have teachers in Mexico, Nepal and Peru already interested in trying to implement it in their schools and hope this will grow- it is important to create a web of knowledge- the answers to the same questions from people all over the world. We would post different 4 Generations ‘lessons' every week. We would update the website either monthly or weekly depending on resources.

    4-      Project Assistant- as the 4 Generations expands our work load is also expanding. We need another senior assistant on the project. 

     

    In conclusion, this has been an immensely productive year for the 4 Generations.  In 2006 our focus will be to organise its implementation across Kenya and to gather stories and knowledge from across the country.  We hope that this will form a template which can be adapted and implemented in various countries across the world.  We are deeply grateful to the Ford Foundation and the Nando Peretti Foundation for making this possible and for all the support we have been given so far.  The  booklets, once printed, will enable our donors to have a much more tangible idea of the knowledge we gather and the work of the children.

      

     

    4 Generations Curriculum Guide 2005

     

    Lesson 1- Introduction

    There is an invaluable store of knowledge locked away in the mind of elders. This lesson (conducted out of doors) will introduce students to the concept of culture and the fact of cultural change in Kenya. They will be told that they will be interviewing people of their grandparents' generation. Then they will teach us about what they have discovered.  

    Themes explored

    • What is culture?
    • What are the different elements that comprise our culture?
    • What comprises our ‘identity'?
    • Shared identity (culture) and individual identity (character).
    • How we conceive of who we are and our position in the world.
    • Historical knowledge that contributes to our cultural identity.
    • Contemporary knowledge and practice that contributes to our cultural identity.
    • Brief overview on how culture is affected by many influences and thus, in turn, how culture is adaptive. Give examples of how certain cultural practices have evolved to suit different environments.

    Lesson 2- Preparing students for interviews

    The oral process is the traditional method by which the details and truths of culture are passed down the generations. Pupils will be prepared for the first interviews with the local elders; given guidance on how to ask good questions; helped to make this new sort of learning process their own. 

    • Overview of how things have changed in this country over the last 100 years
    • Students given a guideline set of questions to take home and ask their grand-parents or other elders in the community.

     Lesson 3 - Creation

    It is natural for humans to ask question "Why are we here?" and "How did the world come to be?" Every culture has its own answers to these questions: answers to be found in creation stories. 

    • Overview of different stories of creation.
    • The significance and symbolism of different creation stories.
    • Our creation story and how it tells us how we perceive of the world around us- our relationship with nature, with animals, with space.
    • Was there a world before God created?
    • Were there many gods or one God?
    • Was God male or female?
    • Was Man made first, or Woman?
    • Why do we diversify?
    • Why does every single culture have a creation story?
    • What the creation story reveals about how we conceive of ‘humanity', as compared for example to ‘animality' or ‘deity'.
    • Creation and nature- according to indigenous theory why is there such diversity in nature- from the forests to the seas to the deserts or mountains, from the caterpillar to the elephant?
    • Questionnaire designed to elicit details of the creation story but also more conceptual ideas.
    • Play and artwork potential from the stories

    Lesson 4 - After Creation?

    Have things gone wrong? Has Man upset the balance of Nature? Separation/wrath of the creator/ God.

    This lesson is quite area dependent- most people have an idea that division occurred after creation- the division of people into different tribes or clans, stories of migration, the emergence of different languages. A fall from grace and people alienated from one another. The discussions that follow students findings should always seek to render the symbolism inherent in most of these teachings relevant to the present context. For example the Pokot ideas of animal totems ruling each clan where almost every wild animal is represented and has different roles can be used to teach conservation. Stories of unity-separation can be used to teach concepts of peace. This lesson will require teachers to use their own initiative to decide how to direct the questions based on local theories and examples. I.e.

    • Separation of races/ tribes/ clans
    • The ‘function' of clans
    • The origins of language
    • Animal totems
    • Social structure and hierarchy

    Lesson 5- Important people- local history

  • This lesson is aimed at getting students to recognise and understand traditional systems of leadership, governance, justice.  It is also aimed at getting students to understand that in the past, in every community, people were given roles- these roles came with responsibilities and obligations as well as with respect and certain rights.  The discussions that follow should consider the value of these systems and whether anything can be learned from them today. Look also at the factors which caused things to change. Perhaps go into stories of the first mzungu- were they seen as a positive/negative/neutral force- (this has always been an important ice-breaking lesson which I teach personally because it vents un-said ideas and Note- in this lesson it is not necessary to touch on the different roles that come with age or age groups as this will be touched on later when we come to looking at the life cycle.

    • Questions aimed at getting students to discover what life was like before western / governmental/ missionary influence.
    • Students to make list of all the important people in the community previously (i.e. as long ago as possible) and describe their roles, responsibilities, obligations, rights.
    • Make the same list as relevant today.
    • Ask students to make a list of all the famous people in the past according to orally past on history/ myth- i.e. leaders, heroes, prophets, medicine men/women, warriors- by name.
    • Potential activity- ask elders within the community who still have these roles to come and describe them for themselves for the class- i.e. herbalists, mid wives, elders' council, laibons...

    Lesson 6- Famous people. Heroes and Villains

    Introduce to students the idea that every culture has its ‘heroes' (not just warriors) and its ‘villains' and give a few examples.  Explain that these (often mythical) figures were usually used as educative tools. -

    • What is a ‘hero'?
    • What is a ‘villain'?
    • Take an example of a hero or a villain.
    • What does that hero/villain represent to your community?
    • What do the stories of our heroes tell us about our own challenges and aspirations and what are the qualities we admire in them?
    • What do the stories of ‘villains' teach us?
    • Drama exercises can be a fun way of learning expressive vocabulary that relates to the qualities of heroes/ villains. Play potential from the stories.

    Lesson 7- Nature and Culture

    Explain how the environment we live in shapes our lives. For example how different geography/climate/vegetation dictates how we get our food and therefore our lifestyle. Explore how intricately linked we are to nature and how we rely on it for almost everything we use. 

    • Ask students to draw up a list of everything we have at home and where it comes from- from our food, to our aluminium pots to our shoes. Discuss how even things like radios or computers could not exist without the raw materials.
    • Give students examples of how some of the most important medicines have their origin in nature- from penicillin to quinine etc.
    • Discuss all the ways in which we damage the environment through greed or short-sightedness - i.e. global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution, soil erosion etc etc. Even primary students seem to be very at home with these subjects. Discuss the evidence of this locally.
    • Homework: prepare for a debate- how do we control nature and how does nature control us (think of appropriate motion that exemplifies this)

    Lesson 8 - Weather

    Some of the major themes in oral history are floods and droughts. This lesson examines how weather shapes our lives- the previous week's work is looked at in more depth in this respect.  Explore the importance of water in our lives and bodies (90%).

    • Explore the importance of water in our lives and bodies.
    • Ask students to find any origin stories or mythological stories for thunder and lightening, wind, rain, hail and so forth/
    • Ask students to discover any indigenous/ traditional ways of predicting weather- such as nesting birds, ants movements, insect behaviour, plants flowering, cloud patterns, wind direction, etc. Note their relevance today.
    • Ask students to find out whether any prayers or rituals were/are conducted in order to affect weather and ask them to describe these in detail, including where possible and lyrics or blessings or prayers.
    • Ask students to also find out if there were/are certain rituals which are weather/season dependant and what these rituals are (i.e. harvest rituals, marriage, circumcision...)
    • Find out about the major events in history i.e. floods and drought and how they shape our lives.
    • Find out planting songs.

    Lesson 9- Environmental ‘Catastrophes'-drought, flood, fire

    Go over a few stories/myths from around the world that relate to environmental phenomena which have had a serious effect on humans.

    • Ask students to go into the community and find out as many stories-historical or mythological- as possible, of environmental catastrophes- drought, fire, flood for example.
    • In the follow-up discussion, use these stories as a base for stories on environmental education. Examine the symbolism behind these stories.
    • Discuss all the ways in which we can modify our lives slightly to reduce environmental degradation.
    • NB: link to geography/ science teacher

    Lesson 10-Food

    Food and water are the most fundamental necessities for survival. As a result, many cultural and settlement patterns are based on the way people acquire food. Take a historical perspective on this to the modern era. Mother Earth feeding her people and the diversity. Look at different food economies and the way they affect culture. Look at nutritional value of food and healthy eating.

    • Healthy eating
    • Wild foods and their nutritional and mineral values
    • Different food economies - agriculturalists / pastoralists/Hunters & Gatherers / Fishermen
    • Food taboos and superstitions
    • The ritual of eating together

    Lesson 11- Plants

    Without plants there would be no life. Plants convert sunlight into energy (glucose) and therefore are the food which enables all other creatures/life to exist. Plants have many functions.

    • Discuss functions of plants - food, medicine, building materials, clothes, oxygen, fuel, beauty, everything they give us
    • Sacred plants
    • Plants and forest conservation

    Lesson 12- Healing

    Emphasis on the holistic lifestyle that keeps people healthy. Concepts of health, illness - is health simply the absence of illness or does ‘health' encompass an idea of emotional, physical and spiritual health. What causes illness? Students will be asked to discover their indigenous ideas of what causes illness and how this is dealt with. 

    Lesson 13- Herbal Medicine

    This lesson is aimed at getting students to find their local respected herbalist. A medicinal plant walk is conducted in which students familiarise themselves with common plants used to treat every-day ailments. Plants are collected and students are taught how to press them and identify them and also the recipes for the medicines. Students are also asked to find out any family memory/successful treatments. Herbalists are asked how that medicine works - how they know which sort of plants will work for the different illness.

    Lesson 14- Retrospect lesson

    This lesson looks back through the ‘Nature and Culture' topics- (Environmental catastrophes, weather, food, plants, healing and herbal medicine) to draw out lessons about SUSTAINABILITY and CONSERVATION to encourage the thought that we are care-takers of the world we have inherited. 

    Lesson 15- Sacred places, Elements, Directions, Colour

    This lesson can vary considerably from area to area depending on what is most relevant.  Discuss how space and place is important in our lives. Consider how every religion has its sacred spaces.  Describe how historically many of these sacred places were places in nature such as trees or mountains.

    • Go over examples- Mountains- Kikuyu-Mt. Kenya, Samburu - Mt Nyiro, trees- Pokot- , Kikuyu- Mugumo. Discuss why these places in nature might be considered sacred or symbolic.
    • Ask students to go and discover what historically would have been the sacred places of their people and ask them for stories and examples.
    • What do you expect to feel like when you visit a sacred place and how would you behave?
    • What makes a place sacred?
    • Explain how in some cultures direction is important- some people only pray facing a certain direction; others may always lay their houses or manyattas out so that they are aligned with certain directions.
    • Ask students to discover if direction is important in their culture and how.
    • The same can be done for the elements and for colour- symbolism, value and significance.  In many cases colours are used for specific circumstances i.e. marriage, initiation, mourning, war etc. Where do all the beautiful colours from? Do different colours have different meanings?
    • Record all of this.
    • Charts can be drawn with direction, element and colour and their symbolism.
    • Liaise with geography teacher so that Kenyan map can also be learned by sacred places -using as many examples from around the country as possible.

    Lesson 16- The Sky

    What happens in the sky is of great significance for many cultures. Knowledge of these things is often restricted to a few elders. The aim is to glean people's indigenous understanding of happenings in space and the sky. Why? What? How? And do events in the sky bear any meaning to what happens here on earth?

    • What is the sun?
    • Why is the sun there?
    • Does anything live there?
    • Where does the sun go at night?
    • What is the moon?
    • Why is it there?
    • Why does it change shape?
    • Where does the moon go during the day?
    • What are the stars?
    • Why do they move across the sky?
    • Shooting stars
    • Do the stars tell you anything? If so, what?
    • Do you tell your children stories about the sun, the moon, and the stars?
    • What are these stories?
    • Clouds
    • Lightening
    • Thunder
    • Hail
    • Rainbow

    Lesson 17- The Life Cycle - Rites of Passage

    Some of the most important religious rituals around the world are the rites of passage. They help an individual (and their community of family and friends) to cope with life's great transitions. Rituals mark important occasions.

    • Birth - into life ( the becoming of a person, motherhood)
    • Adult initiation - from childhood to adult.
    • Marriage - from single hood to being together.
    • Death - from life into death and coping with death.

    NB: Can be split up into different lessons. 

    Lesson 18- Dreams

  • Dreams are often believed to contain messages important to our lives. Pupils can have fun recounting some of their own, often bizarre dreams. The purpose of the lesson is to find any elders who interpret dreams or elders who dream themselves and whose dreams are thought to tell us something.

    • Why do we dream?
    • Have you ever had a dream come true?
    • Do dreams tell about the future?
    • Do dreams tell you something about yourself?
    • Is there anyone in the community who can tell you what your dream means?
    • Do you know any religious stories about dreams?
    • Look at the symbolism.

    Lesson 19- God

    This lesson addresses people's relationship with God, or the spiritual dimension.

    • Why do people believe in God?
    • What is the source of our life and our being?
    • If God was a person, what sort of a person would God be?
    • Can people live without believing in God?
    • Did God create the world?
    • Are there any people who spoke/speak with God in your community?
    • What is your favourite prayer?
    • How does believing in God affect your behaviour?
    • Is there one God or many gods
    • Is God male or female? If so why?

    Lesson 20- Superstitions

    All societies have their superstitions, some of which they take very seriously, others less so. Other people's superstitions may make us laugh, but our own make us nervous. Why is this so?

    • Collect superstitions and think about why they may have arisen.
    • Teachers to share common superstitions with the class.
  • think global, act local
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