Section 5

Investigating other people and places


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:
  • explored difference and similarity across different African contexts;
  • used interactive strategies that allow the comparison of communities and practices across contexts;
  • set up a focused classroom research activity using a range of resources.

When teaching social studies, you are confronted all the time with questions of human diversity and commonality. This section looks at how you can help your pupils compare lifestyle and economic practices across different contexts and cultures. This will help to develop important social studies thinking skills for you and your pupils.

Page 1

In primary school, older pupils are well able to work with the idea that objects in two different categories might still have a number of properties or features that make them similar. It is part of your role to help younger pupils understand this. In this part, you are encouraged to develop this thinking in your pupils in relation to the tension between commonality and diversity among human beings. Case Study 1 and Activity 1 suggest ways of using group discussions to explore the different lifestyles of people in different places, but also to remind pupils of the shared humanity of people everywhere.

Case Study 1: Exploring differences between settlements

Ms Maryogo teaches geography in a remote rural village school in Tanzania. The inhabitants of the village are on the whole very poor. Mrs Maryogo wants to help her pupils to question the differences between communities and so sets them tasks that encourage them to think critically and discover truths about the world they live in for themselves. Today, she has considered very carefully what she can expect her 11-year-old pupils to do and has prepared a series of images that reflect life in different communities (see Resource 1: Living in different communities). In discussion in class, Ms Maryogo poses the following questions:
  • What similarities are there between these places?
  • What similarities are there between the people living in these places?
  • What differences are there?
  • Why are there these differences?
As pupils suggest answers to these questions, she encourages them to extend their ideas and think more deeply. She explores sensitively with them the feelings they have about living in their village. (See also Key Resource: Using questioning to promote thinking.)

Activity 1: We are different

Divide the class into groups of four or more. (If you are able to produce only a small number of copies of Resource 1 then the groups will need to be bigger.) Give each group one scenario from Resource 1 – schooling, swimming or shopping – to work with. Each group should make a list of the similarities between what people do in each situation, and the differences. Use only the evidence in the pictures. Ask each group to write sentences which compare the situations, for example:
  • In the market, the food goods are laid out in a round tray.
  • In the shop, people push things around in trolleys.
They can display these sentences with the pictures and others in class can see what different groups have said about each picture. Looking at their displays will help you assess how well they have understood the topic. You can use this to plan the next step in their learning. If you have younger pupils, you could do this as a class activity, using two contrasting photos and asking questions to help focus their observations.

Page 2

Providing opportunities for your pupils to question information about different situations will help pupils understand differences between communities. Case Study 2 and Activity 2 show different ways to organise pupils and use questioning to allow deeper thinking about similarities and differences.

Case Study 2: Using questions to compare localities

Mrs Onuorah has prepared a lesson on exploring differences and similarities between different local areas. She has prepared a brief information sheet on two different locations (see Resource 2: A comparison of Owo and Idodo). At the beginning of the lesson, she gives the sheet out to the class and asks them to work in their groups. She writes the following questions on the board:
  • What are the differences and similarities between the two environments (Owo and Idodo)?
  • Are there similar standards of living across the two environments?
While the groups are working, Mrs Onuorah moves around listening to their conversations and supports them in thinking more deeply. She asks questions related to what the pupils say in order to help their thinking, and picks up on their own ideas and interests. Mrs Onuorah is always concerned that she is organised so she can focus more on developing her pupils’ understanding.

Activity 2: A comparison of two contrasting environments

This activity gives pupils an opportunity to reflect on different social contexts.
  • You could use Resource 2 or make up your own contrasting environments (perhaps using magazine pictures).
  • Give each group contrasting photographs or pictures. (See Key Resource: Using group work in your classroom.) Ask them to identify the features of each environment in terms of things like physical features, economic activities and what jobs people are doing. They may contrast the pictures with where they live. Ask them to note down important features and ideas about what is different and what is the same.
  • Put two groups together and ask each group to share their ideas with the other group.
  • Ask each group to make a presentation of their findings to the rest of the class.

Page 3

Having explored differences and similarities between geographical locations with your class, a next step could be to use these ideas by involving your pupils in thinking of ways to improve their environment. Case Study 3 shows how one teacher developed a school garden as part of her science and social studies lessons and the Key Activity helps pupils explore how their local environment can be improved.

Case Study 3: Developing the school environment

Mrs Madu teaches social studies to her Primary 4 and 5 class in Eastern Nigeria. She has been exploring similarities and differences in different locations. She wants her pupils to use this information to think about how they could improve their local environment around the school in a way that is sustainable (see Resource 3: Education for sustainable development). After much discussion, her pupils decided they would like to make some places to sit in the garden, and also to paint on the playground or make games to play at break times. She allowed the pupils to discuss in their groups what this would involve. They needed to think about:
  • where to put the seats;
  • what they would make them out of;
  • gaining permission from the head teacher;
  • involving parents and other community members;
  • what games they wanted;
Together they made a plan of action, which was displayed on the wall. The head teacher asked to come and listen to their ideas.

Key Activity: Improving the environment

Ask your pupils what they like about their community and the school environment and list these on the chalkboard. Next, ask them to brainstorm ways they could improve their school environment. Ask them these two questions to start them talking:
  • How could you make the school environment more interesting at play time?
  • How could you encourage everyone to take pride in the school and protect it?
As each group feeds back their ideas, list the two most popular ones on the board. When all the groups have fed back, go through each suggestion – summarising what it is. Now ask your pupils (individually or in groups) to draw up a plan, that can be displayed in the wall, of the option for improving the environment that they would choose.

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