Tessa ng primary Life Skills Section 2: Investigating our place in the community

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TESSA_NG   Primary Life Skills

Section 2: Investigating our place in the community

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  • Section 2: Investigating our place in the community

    • 1. Exploring the local community

    • 2. Using role play to explore community relationships

    • 3. Learning to respect differences

    • Resource 1: What is a community?

    • Resource 2: Sample questions pupils might ask to find out more about local community groups

    • Resource 3: One family’s rules

    • Resource 4: Role play on community relationships

    • Resource 5: Intercultural communities

    • Resource 6: Conflict in the community

Section 2: Investigating our place in the community

Key Focus Question: How can you use storytelling and local knowledge and culture to enhance learning?

Keywords: cultures; community; role play; discovery; behaviour; storytelling

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Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will have:

  • found out more about the local community through discovery learning;

  • used role play to identify acceptable behaviour in different situations;

  • used storytelling to develop pupils’ awareness of different cultures.

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Discovery learning, stories and role play are active ways to explore the different communities in which pupils live. They allow pupils to find out things for themselves – which is much better than you just telling them how things are.

The purpose of using stories and role play is to stimulate discussion and help pupils to look at their own attitudes and behaviour in a non-threatening way. Because these scenarios are more removed from the pupils’ real situations they may find it easier to talk more freely.

It is important that life skills lessons do not preach, but help pupils to find out for themselves and think about their own lives and ambitions. You need to be aware that different children will ‘discover’ different things about themselves, others and their lives.

There are some notes about communities in Resource 1: What is a community?

1. Exploring the local community

Discussing and writing stories helps pupils to say what they think about different situations. Stories can be very helpful when you want pupils to think about difficult subjects. But it does take time to prepare them well; you need to think about the communities your pupils are part of and prepare your story carefully.

In Case Study 1, we learn about Mrs Otto who teaches Primary 6 in a large primary school in Kampala. She wanted her pupils to think about community relationships in their own town situation and then find out more about a rural community. If you work in a rural setting, you may want your pupils to explore an urban or town situation.

Activity 1 uses discovery learning to help your pupils ‘discover’ more about their own communities.

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Case Study 1: Using your experience to discuss community life

As Mrs Otto came from a village more than 200 km from Kampala, she knows quite a lot about village life. From her own experience, she was able to prepare stories about her life there to use with her pupils. Using her own experience was important for Mrs Otto in teaching as it meant she was more confident about her subject knowledge.

Mrs Otto asked two pupils from her Primary 6 class to read out a story she had prepared about a village community in Uganda and then another two pupils to read one about a small urban community she knew. She had chosen these stories because they had many similarities.

After each story, she asked her pupils to discuss in their desk groups:

  • the different activities the people carry out to make a living;

  • the people who help others in the community;

  • the problems of each community – which were the same? Which were different?

  • the leaders of the community.

Mrs Otto asked the groups to feed back their ideas and she wrote the key points on the board. As a class, they discussed the successes and the problems of the different communities and how the problems might be solved.

For homework, she asked them to think about their own community. Next lesson, after having done some research (see Key Resource: Researching in the classroom) each group of four wrote their own description of their community. Some pupils read these out to the whole class.

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Activity 1: Discovery learning in the local community

  • Ask your class to brainstorm some of the main groups in the local community. These might include NGOs, religious groups, friends, family, community leaders etc.

  • Organise your class into suitable sized groups. (This may be according to age or ability or another grouping.)

  • Explain that they are going to find out about one of these groups.

  • Allow each group to select a community group. More than one group can investigate the same organisation, as they will have different interests and views.

  • You may need to do some research yourself or your pupils could do it to find out more about each organisation. You or they could perhaps collect some documents to help with their investigations. Each group could also devise a questionnaire and interview people from the organisation. See Resource 2: Sample questions pupils might ask to find out more about local community groups.

  • Give them time to do the discovering, or research.

  • Next lesson, ask each group to prepare a presentation on their organisation – the presentation could be written, a poster, a picture or any other display method.

  • For younger pupils, you could investigate one group only and invite someone from the organisation to talk to the class and together make a poster. You could repeat this at intervals so that your pupils find out about different organisations.

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2. Using role play to explore community relationships

Respecting others and behaving in appropriate ways between different generations is important in holding communities together. In your classroom, how your pupils speak and interact with each other can affect their interest in school and learning. Role play can be used to explore how to behave in different situations. See Key Resource: Using role play/dialogue/drama in the classroom for guidance.

You will need to spend some time preparing appropriate role plays. Remember, the purpose is to help your pupils explore their own beliefs, knowledge and attitudes, and role play is a non-threatening way to do this.

Case Study 2 shows how one teacher used role play with younger pupils to explore the rules of behaviour in their families. Activity 2 uses role play to investigate community relationships.

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Case Study 2: Family rules

Mrs Ogah teaches Primary 3 in Makurdi Primary School. She asked her pupils to talk to their grandparents or other older family members and ask them about the rules of behaviour that are used in their families.

The next day, in class, they shared the rules from their different families and found that many were the same. One or two children had rules the others did not have, and they talked about why some families need different rules. They found that most of the rules were for children! (Resource 3: One family’s rules has some rules you could discuss with your class.)

Mrs Ogah chose small groups of pupils to perform a role play about one of the rules. This helped the class to discuss the behaviours shown and when the rules are used. They found that there were sometimes different rules for boys and girls. They talked about this and found that there were specific tasks to be carried out by boys and different ones for girls. They felt that, mostly, the girls were not treated as well as the boys. In the end, the whole class agreed it was not fair and that the rules should be the same for everyone.

At the end, Mrs Ogah explained why the rules are important. She also made a note in her book to plan a lesson on gender issues to further explore and possibly challenge the differences in the treatment of girls and boys.

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Activity 2: Using role play to explore community relationships

  • Prepare some role plays set in different community situations:

(See Resource 4: Role play on community relationships for more details on these ideas. You could add your own activities.)

  • Ask your pupils to act out each role play and have a class or small group discussion after each one. Identify the good or bad behaviour. Ask the class how the people in the story should behave.

  • Ask the pupils, in groups, to think up their own story to role play. Guide them to make sure they think of relevant situations. Allow each group to present their role play, and repeat the class or small group discussions to think about ways to resolve the situations.

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3. Learning to respect differences

It is very important that as your pupils grow up, you help them learn to respect people’s different opinions and beliefs. Stories are a good way of introducing ideas about cultural interactions and good and bad behaviour. Stories can help pupils understand the principles behind different kinds of behaviour.

To use stories well, you should include characters who behave in different ways. A lot of discussion can come from a well-chosen story, but you also need to think about questions you can ask.

The same is also true of role plays. By inventing characters and acting as them, pupils can explore the kinds of cultural conflicts that might occur in real life, but without suffering any of the consequences. Stories and role plays can help your pupils develop their understanding of difference in a non-threatening way. Resource 5: Intercultural communities will help you develop these ideas with your pupils.

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Case Study 3: Using storytelling to explore community conflicts

Mr Aina decided to teach his class about the importance of people respecting different members of the community and the roles they play, and the dangers that come from conflict. He used the story of the fight among the three cultural groups in Ariya to discuss these issues. See Resource 6: Conflict in the community for a copy of this story.

Before he told the story, Mr Aina asked his pupils to listen carefully and try to identify the original reason for the conflict. After hearing the story, they shared their ideas and he listed these on the board.

Next, he asked them, in groups, to describe to each other how the events had developed stage-by-stage. After ten minutes, they talked as a class and compiled the different stages on the board.

Mr Aina then asked them to discuss how they would have stopped the trouble by looking at each of the different stages and describing how they could have controlled each one.

Finally, he asked them to list the ways in which the three different groups contributed to the community and also interacted with each other positively. This helped them understand how each group was important and couldn’t operate without the help of the other groups.

The pupils found this lesson interesting, and Mr Aina saw how they began to treat the issues seriously.

In the next lesson, the pupils worked in groups again to think of any areas of conflict in their own community and some possible solutions. They used the problem-solving skills they had developed when working on the story.

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Resource 1: What is a community?

   Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

A community is a group of people who interact and share certain things in common. Members of the community may live in the same area and may have common values and beliefs. They could share some common possessions.

If you are trying to explain the idea of community to your pupils, you might start by using examples they are familiar with. A good starting point is to ask them to describe their families, including the wider family of aunts, uncles and cousins. Help them to realise that their homes and families consist of individuals, a collection of people, living in a particular place – a small community.

Building on this, you can ask them to add in other groups that they interact with and who form part of the wider community:

  • their neighbours, who live in the same street;

  • their friends, who they see every day;

  • their parents’ friends, who visit them.

It is this collection of different groups of people that makes up a community, and it is how pupils interact with these groups that contribute towards who they are and how they see themselves within the community. Identifying the different things that help define a community will help them understand the part they play in different groups. You might ask them to describe:

  • the location – where people live;

  • the language – how people speak;

  • the culture – what clothes people wear, the food they eat, their religion;
  • the history – important events that have happened to a group of people.

Resource 2: Sample questions pupils might ask to find out more about local community groups

   Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

  • What is the name of your group?

  • What is the purpose of your organisation?

  • Which members of the community do you help?

  • How do you provide that help?

  • Who are the members of the organisation?

  • Who can be a member of your group?

  • How do you become a member of the group?

  • Do you meet regularly? If so, when and where?

Resource 3: One family’s rules

   Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

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One family’s rules

Children do as they are told.

Girls help their mothers with the household duties.

Boys help their fathers and uncles on the land.

Children are quiet and respectful around old people.

Children leave the room when a visitor comes.

Children cannot play outside the home on Sunday.

Older children look after younger children.

Never tell lies.

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Resource 4: Role play on community relationships

   Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

Here are some ideas for role plays you can do with your pupils. They are just ideas to get you started. Can you think of more relevant situations for your own community and pupils? If so, write your own role plays or adapt the ones below.

You can stop each story where we have left it and ask the pupils to make up their own endings. This way, the pupils can work in groups and come up with different solutions to the problems. Or you can write your own ending to the story to make any points you wish.

Gana meets the chief

Gana had a problem with his neighbour who kept letting his goats into Gana’s garden where they would eat all his vegetables. It had happened many times. Gana tried to talk to his neighbour but he would not listen. His neighbour used to be very friendly, but lately he was often in the beer parlour and did not care much about his house or his friends.

Gana decided to go to the chief to ask for some advice. …

Mr Ekene the storekeeper

Mr Ekene has a small store that sells food and household items. His store is a great help to the women in the village as it saves them walking so far to the next town. Mr Ekene is the proud owner of a refrigerator and a generator. Now he can also sell cold things, like cool drinks and milk – even meat. The young people like to come to his shop to buy cola. One day, Mr Ekene found that while he had been busy serving one boy with some sweets, two other boys opened his fridge and stole two bottles of cola. He was very upset and he decided to ….

Nwafor and his grandfather

Nwafor’s grandfather is very old – he is 92! He lives with Nwafor and his three sisters and his mother and his aunt and her baby. Most of the time grandfather stays in his room or on his special chair outside the front door under the shade of the mango tree. He is often grumpy and complains about the noise the children make. Nwafor’s mother tells him they must look after grandfather as he is the head of their household. He has his old age pension from the government, which helps to buy their food. Nwafor is quite scared of him and prefers to let his sisters look after grandfather.

One day, his sisters are all out fetching water and mother tells Nwafor he must take grandfather his evening meal. Nwafor is very worried. He takes the food and then ….

Resource 5: Intercultural communities

   Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

As you help your pupils define their communities, be it their family, village or school, it is very important that they also learn to respect people’s different opinions and beliefs.

Remind pupils that they are all individuals from different homes and families. For example, they might not all speak the same home language or mother tongue. Their parents may have different occupations: some may be labourers; others farmers; a few may be traders, nurses etc.

But also highlight the fact that they are all members of the same community, with a common interest. Because of this, they should respect the views of other people in that community.

The first stage of respecting other people is to listen to their views and recognise their value. When pupils learn about different people’s backgrounds and beliefs, they will be able to respect each other more. They will not be fearful of cultural differences. They will also have a greater understanding of who they are.

Cultural differences can sometimes be a cause for conflict within a community. It is important for pupils to understand the reasons for conflict, such as arguments over property and land, behaviour, money and relationships. An important part of life skills education is finding ways to try and avoid conflict at school and in the community.

Resource 6: Conflict in the community

   Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils

Once there was a big fight that took place among the three cultural groups in Ariya, a village community by the main road. It led to the killing of members of different cultural groups and this affected the community very badly.

The three groups were the Bororojie, who were cattle rearers, the Esusu, who were traders, and the Yariba, who drove the taxis and transport. The fight started between the traders and the taxi and transport drivers, and spread from there.

The traders said that the Yariba were charging them too much money for transporting goods, and the taxi and transport drivers said that the Esusu were charging them too much for fuel to run their vehicles.

First, there was a strike by the taxi and transport drivers and then the traders stopped selling them fuel and goods. One day, there was a fight between a taxi driver and a trader in the market. Then all the taxi drivers went to the market to break the stalls, and a big fight started.

After this, the taxi and transport drivers and the traders started attacking each other’s compounds. They were badly hit. People were killed and property was lost. The families of both groups ran to their homelands for safety.

At first, the Bororoje cattle rearers were not as badly affected because they were in their homeland and they were in the majority. But the fight continued for another day, and they got involved.

The sad news soon reached the home areas of the taxi and transport drivers and the traders about the troubles in the Bororojie areas. The home people descended on the Bororoje in their own communities, killing their cattle. In some places, the cattle rearers were killed too.

For days, there was no peace. Meat was not available in the home areas of the taxi and transport drivers and the traders because the Bororoje had left. At Ariya, no taxicabs were on the streets. The market was empty because stalls were destroyed and no other foodstuff and meat could be brought in.

The leaders of the different communities in Ariya called for meetings and addressed all the cultural groups. They showed the people how they all needed one another for the community to operate well. They explained how they should learn to listen to the views of one another, and be tolerant of one another, because there is a lot to gain from one another.

Then they sat with the representatives of the different communities and discovered the root cause of all this trouble. They discussed the problems associated with the conflict, found a solution and made peace between the people.

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