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Lesson Plans
Rites of Passage

By Alex Sabatino Jr.
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
  6-8
Time Alloment
 Three to four 40-minute  periods


Overview

A rite of passage is an observance marking a change from one stage of life to another. What rites of passage do we observe in American society? How do those rites of passage compare and contrast to the rites of passage in other societies? Through video and Internet activities, students will learn about rites of passage in two modern day West African cultures, the Fulani and the Dogon, and how slavery served as a rite of passage for many West African people in the past. Students will also relate Fulani and Dogon rites of passage to their own personal histories and rites of passage. This lesson can be used as an introduction to a larger unit on slavery or West African culture and history.


Learning Activities

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the process of enslavement;
  • Describe the living and working conditions of slaves;
  • Understand the shared ancestry of people who were enslaved in America and two West African cultures who were not enslaved, specifically the Dogon and Fulani;
  • Define the term "rite of passage;"
  • Compare and contrast rites of passage of several cultures;
  • Understand the importance of family and society in West African cultures;
  • Understand and explain how belief systems can influence the everyday actions of people;
  • Explain where slavery still exists in the modern world.

Standards

From the National Standards for History
www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards

  1. Know economic, political, and cultural interrelations among peoples of Africa, Europe, and the Americas, 1500-1750 (World History, Era 6-4)
  2. Why the Europeans brought enslaved Africans to their colonies (U.S. History, Era 2-1)
  3. How slavery reshaped European and African life in the Americas (U.S. History, Era 2-3)
  4. Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage (Historical Thinking, #2A)
  5. Evidence historical perspectives (Historical Thinking, #2D)
  6. Obtain historical data (Historical Thinking, #4B)
  7. Formulate a position or course of action on an issue (Historical Thinking, #5E)

From the National Standards for Social Studies
www.socialstudies.org/standards/2.1.html
  1. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.
  2. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.
  3. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.
  4. Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

From the New York State Learning Standards
www.nysatl.nysed.gov/ssstand.html
  1. Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.
  2. Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.
  3. Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live-local, national, and global-including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth's surface.



Media Components

Video:
Nature: Africa, Episode 5 "Love in the Sahel"

Web sites:

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/3.htm

This Web site was edited by Steven Mintz, University of Houston. It tells the story of the enslavement of Olaudah Equiano, an 11 year-old West African boy.

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/6.htm

Olaudah tells us about the conditions aboard the slave ship that carried him to America.

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/8.htm

Olaudah reveals how he was sold into slavery.

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/12.htm

Josiah Henson narrates about the working conditions of some slaves on a Maryland plantation.

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/14.htm

This narrative is by Jacob Stroyer. In it he describes the living quarters of slave families.

Excerpts from Slave Narratives Web Site
http://vi.uh.edu/pages/mintz/23.htm

Charles Ball tells us about a slave funeral

Iabolish Web Site
http://iabolish.com/today/background/world-map.htm#

Labeling themselves the anti-slavery portal, this Web site shows that slavery is also a modern day issue. At this URL they present an interactive world map showing slave trades on every continent.

Iabolish Web Site
http://www.iabolish.com/act/camp/stop/class-acts/teachers.htm#letter

At this address, Iabolish discusses possible actions by students who wish to speak out against slavery.


Materials

Per Class:
  • An atlas or a map of the world

Per Student:
  • Writing journals
  • Prop letter explaining that Saturday school is now mandatory (see Student Materials)