2. Using mind maps to structure thinking about the past

In the past, cattle were always viewed as an important resource, and many farmers and communities still view cattle this way.

The purpose of Activity 2 is for pupils to investigate the traditional role of cattle in African societies using the local community as a source of information. They will then determine how much African farming societies have changed.

Case Study 2 and Activity 2 use mind mapping and a template to help pupils think about the task as they work together in groups to share ideas.

Case Study 2: Farming in Birnin Kalomo

There are many farmers living in the Kalomo area and many of the pupils in the school are children of farmers. Ms Mwaka Mutinta wants to investigate with her class how important cattle were to the lifestyle and culture of the early African farmers who settled in Kaolomo district. She also wants her pupils to think about the extent to which African farming societies have changed. She plans to use the local community as a resource of information.

Mwaka begins her lesson by explaining the important role of cattle in early African societies. She draws a mind map on the chalkboard that highlights the importance of cattle, and what cattle were used for. (See Key Resource: Using mind maps and brainstorming to explore ideas [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   and Resource 3: A mind map about keeping cattle to help you question your pupils.) The class discuss these ideas.

In the next lesson, in small groups with a responsible adult, the pupils go out to interview local farmers. Mwaka has talked with them beforehand to see who is willing to talk with her pupils.

The pupils had two simple questions to ask local farmers:

  1. Why are cattle important to you?
  2. What are the main uses of cattle?

Back in class, they share their findings and Mwaka lists their answers on the chalkboard. They discuss what has changed over the years.

Activity 2: Farming old and new

Before the lesson, read Resource 4: Cattle in Zulu life.

  • Explain to pupils why cattle were important to the people like the Zulus and those living in the Kalomo area.
  • Ask them, in groups, to list reasons why people used to keep cattle.
  • For homework, ask them to find out from older members of the community how keeping cattle has changed.
  • In the next lesson, ask the groups to copy and then fill out the template in Resource 5: The role of cattle – past and present to record their ideas.
  • Share each group’s answers with the whole class and display the templates on the wall for several days so pupils can revisit the ideas.

1. Thinking about the location of settlements

3. Fieldwork to investigate local history