Monthly Archives: March, 2013

Green Belt Movement Curriculum

Greetings,

I hope that your week is going well.  Today, I want to talk about a super heroine of mine.

Dr. Wangari Maathai she was born in a small town in the East African country of Kenya.  Even though it was hard for a girl to get an education in this area, she completed grade school, flew to the USA and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Biological Sciences, and a PhD in Anatomy.

She used her love for science and nature to start the Green Belt Movement  in 1977.  Women involved in the GBM have planted more than 10 million trees since 1977 which has helped to restore the soil in Kenya after immense deforestation.

Dr. Maathai was the first African woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.  She earned this honor for her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy, and peace”.

She received honorary doctorate degrees from 13 universities, in Kenya, the USA, Norway, and  Japan.  She also received over 55 awards in her lifetime, such as the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights from South Africa and the Indira Gandhi International Award for Peace from India.  Dr. Maathai was voted one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine and one of the 100 most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine. 

Sadly, Dr. Maathai passed away in September 2011.  Fortunately, her legacy continues.  The Green Belt Movement has published a Community Classroom curriculum through PBS including lesson plans, handouts, and videos for grades 9-12 (or ambitious&talented younger students). 

Please make use of this curriculum to expand your students’ social, environmental, and cultural awareness. 

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story

Greetings,

I have sometimes heard people say, “Isn’t education just education?  There is no Black or White education… it’s all about what works.”

By the same token, I have heard people say, “Literature is just literature.  It’s not Black or White.”

Some even go as far as to say labeling education or literature by race or culture is “racist”.  (Sidenote: Culture is what is important here.  ”Race” is a social concept based on phenotype.)

So, let’s talk about culture.  Which cultural group is predominantly central to modern education and literature?  The answer is obvious: Anglo-Saxon culture.

This is not accusatory, it’s just a fact.  If you take an English, History, or Math class, you will learn about Shakespeare, the Greeks and Romans, and Pythagoras.  You will be less likely to learn about August Wilson (a great African American playwright), the ancient empire of Mali, and Imhotep (the first known physician – an African).  If you are a Black student, you see Europeans being great throughout history.  Yet, your “history” is limited to a handful of heroes and heroines spanning from Harriet Tubman to President Barack Obama.

Let’s talk about literature.  One can attain a PhD in literature without reading more than a few Black authors.  How many literature students are required to read from the African Writers’ Series or the Norton Anthology of African American Literature outside of those specializing in Africana Studies?

If you are a Black student, should you not read more literature reflective of history and cultures of the African Diaspora?  Would that not grant you a greater understanding of your modern plight?

Would a well-balanced education with account of Africana contributions to all disciplines not grant you greater knowledge to solve modern Africana problems?

With these questions in mind, please enjoy this wonderful video by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie on the danger of a single story.

Herbs: Indoor Container Gardening Part 2

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Greetings,

As I begin to collect items for our indoor container garden, I am finding some very helpful printables and lesson plans. 

Herbs in the Classroom: Begin a small herb garden with an egg carton or Dixie cups.

Herb Identification Worksheet: Identify summer herbs with this neat free printable.  Some included are dill, rosemary, and basil.

Start a Pizza Herb Garden: plant herbs that your children will use to make a pizza!

Herbs for Kids: What’s Safe, What’s Not: From WebMD. St. John’s Wort, for instance, is not okay for kids.  Many herbs are.  Lemon balm for instance, calms anxiety.  (Use herbs for medicinal purposes at your own risk/benefit.)

Sensory Herb Garden Handout: Which herbs have the strongest smells and tastes that children can enjoy?  Use this handout to better understand the sensory aspect of your herb garden.

I hope you find these helpful.  Also, here are some generally helpful kids’ gardening printables:

Plant Parts: Parts of a plant.

Plant Growth: How a seed grows.

Plant Measurement: Track plant growth with this free printable.

Enjoy!

All Best,

Nikala Asante

Indoor Container Gardening

herbs

Greetings,

We recently purchased a little pot of lavender with the goal of starting a small indoor container garden of herbs and vegetables.  For those of us who are yard space-challenged, indoor gardening may be an optimal option to get in touch with our green thumbs.  Our lavender has already grown to about 150% of its original size within 3 weeks.  With this in mind, we will be expanding our indoor garden to include more herbs and a few vegetables.

Gardening is a valuable component of a well-rounded homeschol curriculum.  If you would like to join us in our indoor gardening venture, please visit the following links:

Easiest Vegetables to Grow Indoors: Lettuce is at the top. Spinach, radishes, and tomatoes (using an aero garden) are also viable.

Herbs to Grow Indoors: Any herbs can be grown indoors, under the right conditions.

How to Grow an Herbal Tea Indoor Garden: Chamomile and Mint Tea is great for the kids and for you too!

Gardening Lesson Plans for kids: Awesome lesson plans from Growing Minds.

More Gardening Lesson Plans: Lesson plans for kids from Utah State University

Enjoy your indoor garden and let us know know it goes!

All Best,

Nikala Asante