Teachers Teaching Teachers #258 What would Peter Little think? Inquiries for curriculum on the Horn of Africa 8.3.11

Post-Show description: 

This episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers started a couple of weeks ago on Google+. Here's the story of why we invited anthropologist Peter D. Little to join us in our planning for classes this fall. 

It started when I (Paul Allison) asked a couple of questions after reading about a meeting in Rome, where the international community rallied "to the aid of drought- and famine-affected populations in the Horn of Africa with an immediate, twin-track programme designed to avert an imminent humanitarian catastrophe and build long-term food security in the region" (The Standard, 07/25/2011). I wanted to learn more about what was happening on the Horn of Africa, and so I ventured forth by quoting a couple of paragraphs from this article, and by asking a couple of questions.

These two paragraphs leave me with a lot of questions. The notion of a pastoralist is new. I want to learn more about these livestock owners who travel from place to place. How does that work? And the notion of "agropastoralists" seems to imply that they also do farming, which would mean that they move less often. How do these people work in Somalia and other countries? Are they in one ethnic group? Is the famine affecting these folks? Can they provide long-term solutions?

Soon after I posted this, and some back and forth had begun, we received this note from Kris Jacobson, a high school librarian who is interested in learning, libraries, education, professional wrestling, news and politics:

I'm glad that the proposed solutions include letting agropastoralists & pastoralists maintain their nomadic way of life and their animals. Development specialists should not be in the habit of trying to make people abandon their cultures and economies. If you're interested in East African pastoralists, Peter D. Little is one of the top researchers in the field:

What a wonderful lead this turned out to be into my ongoing inquiry into the Horn of Africa as we plan curriculum together for this fall. With a hat tip to Kris Jacoboson, I continued to read and to write on Google+ about what I to what I was learning:

Thanks to +Kris Jacobson I've just been educated on the pastoralists in the Horn of Africa. Carol Clark writes with knowledge and clarity about the the pastoralists, whose lives, Professor Peter Little has been documenting for some time. As he writes:

During the past 27 years, my research has addressed the anthropology of development and globalization, political economy of agrarian change, pastoralism, environmental politics and change, informal economies and statelessness, and food insecurity in several African countries. Most of my field studies have been conducted in Africa, with a primary emphasis on eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia).

I was off and running, inspired because I had a frame to work with. I followed up by reading a couple of studies and a chapter in a book by Peter Little, and I found that his voice was echoing in my head, with hope in local solutions in Somalia. At least librarian Kris Jacobson and the writer of the Emory University blog, Carol Clark had sent me through Peter Little on a quest to find what local knowledge and indigenous culture and industry and agriculture there might be in Somalia and Ethiopia and Kenya and the rest of the Horn of Africa. How are the people there dealing with the droughts and what's preventing them from finding their own solutions? I began to ask. 

As my inquiry continued, I found myself wondering, "What would Peter Little say?" His work had provided for me a perspective, perhaps a conscience as I have been reading (and writing) about the complex, ever-developing issues surrounding the famine.

And so, we asked him to come on Teachers Teaching Teachers to guide us toward the questions we might be asking our students, to wonder what approaches he will be taking this fall himself, and to dialogue with him about the famine that we are facing on the Horn of Africa.

Thanks also for our other thoughtful guests, Shannon Sullivan who developed curriculum for PBS, Chris Sloan, Zac Chase, and Adam Cohen.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

20:47:26 SusanEttenheim: hi adam I'll be calling you in soon
20:59:15 Chris Sloan: Hello
21:00:24 [email protected]: Hello
21:00:32 SusanEttenheim: hi rita welcome!
21:00:36 SusanEttenheim: hi shannon
21:00:41 ShannonSullivan: HI there!
21:00:42 Rita: Good evening
21:00:47 SusanEttenheim: rita - where and what do you teach?
21:00:49 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:00:53 Chris Sloan: I teach high school English and media in Salt Lake City, Utah. How about you all?
21:01:02 Rita: Philadelphia - computer lab
21:01:22 SusanEttenheim: ah I do too - what ages rita?
21:01:27 SusanEttenheim: how did you find us?
21:01:42 Rita: From K-5
21:01:54 Rita: Found you on twitter
21:02:38 ShannonSullivan: rita, on twitter I am @ipads4kids and @meltdownfreedis Let me know if I can follow you! 
21:03:23 SusanEttenheim: welcome rita - glad you could join us!
21:03:28 SusanEttenheim: I'm high school in nyc
21:04:14 [email protected]: @Chris ---- I teach high school science (Biology and Environmental Science)in Dallas, TX
21:06:06 Chris Sloan: @Adam. Funny thing. My wife is in Dallas on business right now.
21:07:06 [email protected]: I also run a small Urban Farming business that uses the novel method of Aquaponics to produce a large volume of high quality food within the urban environment.
21:07:13 ShannonSullivan: Great to have you here, @Chris
21:07:17 SusanEttenheim: are you ok rita - glad you're back can you hear ok?
21:07:31 Rita: Lost connection
21:07:48 SusanEttenheim: can you hear now?
21:07:56 SusanEttenheim: hi kathy welcome :)
21:08:02 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:08:12 Chris Sloan: teacher and a farmer. Nice, Adam.  I'm sure you've seen Fresh, Food Inc, and are up on Pollan's stuff
21:08:38 Rita: No  audio yet
21:08:47 SusanEttenheim: ok click on edtechtalk a
21:08:47 Kathy Ishizuka: Hi Susan, I'm an editor at School Library Journal.
21:08:54 [email protected]: absolutely.... Will Allen, Michael Pollan, and Joel Salatin are some of my heroes...
21:08:57 SusanEttenheim: welcome kathy how did you find us?
21:09:31 SusanEttenheim: kathy do you have audio - are you hearing ok?
21:10:25 Kathy Ishizuka: No audio.
21:10:44 SusanEttenheim: kathy click on edtech talk A
21:10:49 SusanEttenheim: you should have audio
21:11:51 Rita: OK Got audio
21:12:02 SusanEttenheim: great rita
21:12:16 SusanEttenheim: rita and kathy - please feel free to add comments and questions
21:12:22 SusanEttenheim: we can ask anyone on the call
21:12:23 Kathy Ishizuka: Thanks.
21:12:38 Rita: Yes
21:12:39 SusanEttenheim: and a lot of the people on the call are in this chat too :)
21:14:07 SusanEttenheim: kathy do you have sound now?
21:14:35 Kathy Ishizuka: Yes
21:14:43 SusanEttenheim: great
21:16:25 Chris Sloan: Kathy, have you been an editor your whole career?
21:18:15 Kathy Ishizuka: I started in book publishing and did some news reporting and writing primarily around education, family issues. I now cover tech in K-12.
21:40:12 Chris Sloan: I'd like to know more about the "rules of thoughtful conversation" Shannon
21:40:42 Rita: Using present photo and projecting to future is good way to keep students thinking
21:41:19 Chris Sloan: can you say more about that Rita?
21:41:31 Chris Sloan: present photo, I mean
21:44:27 Rita: A photo showing hardships, devestation, famine and then projecting to what can happen to change for the better. The younger students often have simplistic solutions and as was mentione earlier it is not "one and done." 
21:45:34 Chris Sloan: got it. Excellent point, Rita
21:45:43 Chris Sloan: by the way, here's the link to Shannon's teacher resources on PBS NewsHour site | http://to.pbs.org/pXrXsY
21:45:46 [email protected]: can't that just be a little simplistic though? I mean the attempt to stay away from "one and done" is important, but is it really possible? My high school students often have extreme difficulty with that concept...
21:46:01 [email protected]: cool. thanks for the link Chris.
21:47:36 ZacChase: How do you mean, Adam?
21:47:38 Rita: Probably not easy but maybe a start. For my students, even revisiting the places and keeping abreast of events. Once it fades from the news we tend to forget
21:48:31 [email protected]: Rita -- I do agree with that... I think it is a sad state of affairs for the youth of today, when it seems that for them it truly is a case of "out of sight, out of mind"
21:48:49 [email protected]: The "ostrich" syndromy at the worst possible manifestation....
21:49:00 Chris Sloan: not just youth. That's true for a lot of the adults I know
21:50:24 [email protected]: Well that is true... I am 33 and I know a number of my age class and those even a decade or more above --- They have the same mindset. To be honest, I manage to keep abreast of food related issues and their history, but outside of that - I succumb to the same thing.
21:51:34 Rita: We need to help our students make connections with the global commuity. I like the idea of tracing the journey of something they own.
21:52:11 Chris Sloan: me too. I've been thinking about other things too. Like where my community's water comes from for instance
21:52:25 [email protected]: I have done something very similar to the "pencil" exercise that was talked about... except I did it with Food. To pick a meal and then track the origin and transport path of each ingredient...
21:52:44 [email protected]: I could help you with some ideas for that Chris.
21:53:02 Chris Sloan: Sounds good Adam.
21:53:32 [email protected]: send me an email at [email protected] -- we can work on it together.
21:53:41 Chris Sloan: will do
21:57:21 Kathy Ishizuka: Thanks everyone. I'd love to hear more about your approaches, Rita and Shannon. I'm @kishizuka on Twitter. Thank you. 
21:58:18 Rita: OK Kathy, I'm @ritaas on twiter
22:01:16 SusanEttenheim: thanks everyone! great conversation!
22:01:47 Rita: Thanks everyone. Goodnight
22:01:57 Chris Sloan: nice talking with you all
22:02:13 ShannonSullivan: I just tweeted a link about the pencil lesson from @meltdownfreedis
22:02:20 [email protected]: Good night all!
22:03:10 ShannonSullivan: Have a great night.  This is just my 2nd time. you can email me at [email protected]
22:04:16 ShannonSullivan: Chris, where do you work, again? What age?
22:05:49 Chris Sloan: I teach high school English and media in Salt Lake City, Utah
22:06:19 Chris Sloan: We've done some stuff with News Hour before
22:08:35 ShannonSullivan: English is the most fun to teach b/c you can do it all!