All students seem to be entertained and inspired by my author visits, but the educational benefits for students who have read A Girl Called Problem and talked about it in class before my author visit seem to be tenfold. While ELA teachers can make best use of resources listed on this website (chapter-by-chapter discussion questions, videos, a primary-source interview, and suggestions for further reading), teachers in other disciplines can certainly help enrich students’ understanding of the novel. Below are a few ideas to get you started:
- Social Studies: Do a unit on pre- and post-colonial East African history. Look at who colonized Tanzania (Germany and England); research what methods they used to maintain control; read President Nyerere’s Arusha Declaration; examine how other surrounding East African nations pursued independence (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo, for example); think about how they fared economically and socially, as compared to Tanzania; hypothesize about what lead to the differences in their outcomes after independence (all the others had some form of civil war, yet they tended to fare better economically).
- Physical Education: Try out some Tanzanian games–this website will get you started with games like Mamba. If you are looking for a more involved game loved by Tanzanians, try Netball. Another great option would be to play Mpira (soccer) but with a ball made of bound rags or plastic bags, as many Tanzanian youth will do if they don’t have access to a manufactured ball. Another option would be to invest in a Soccket, a soccer ball that generates electricity as you play with it, an invention that makes it possible for kids in Tanzania and other developing countries to do their homework after it’s dark.
- Art: Make wire toy vehicles after reading the wonderful picture book, Galimoto; explore Tanzanian batik motifs; or make Maasai-inspired bead jewelry.
- Science: Do an investigation of malaria. Look into the parasites responsible for the disease, the types of mosquitoes that transmit it, research being done to reduce malaria transmission, and the prospects for a vaccine.