Social Education 58(6), 1994, pp. 371-372
National Council for the Social Studies

After Nairobi: New Horizons for Social Studies

Between June 27 and June 29, the Third International Social Studies Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya. It was cosponsored by NCSS and the African Social and Environmental Studies Programme, and was the first international NCSS conference to be held on African soil. The conference, which featured more than 100 sessions, was attended by more than 400 social studies professionals from the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

NCSS asked Prof. James L. Barth of Purdue University, who has extensive experience in the teaching of social studies in Africa, to write his reflections on the conference for Social Education, and to collect similar reflections from others. Prof. Barth has sent us the following five contributions.

The African Experience

James L. Barth
The time in East Africa-exactly 12:00 midnight, the 747 I was sitting in was scheduled to leave the soil of Africa in two minutes, and for me this was a bittersweet moment. Bitter because this might be my last visit to Africa after working in ten different nations for over the past twenty years, and sweet because a dream had come true: the Third International Social Studies Conference was now over, and it had been held on the African continent.
In the two minutes I had left before leaving Africa, I thought about the Conference: how it came about, what happened at the Conference, and what the future of NCSS was as a transnational organization. I thought about the first suggestion for holding a Conference in Africa. That was easy to recall. I was walking down a hot, dusty, Southern African street in Francistown, Botswana, just outside the Kalahari Dessert, in 1989, with social studies colleagues from a local teacher training college. "How," they asked, "do we begin a dialogue in Africa with other African social studies colleagues? How can we talk with educators from around the world about the development of social studies in Africa?" "That's easy," I said. "We just need to hold the Third International Social Studies Conference in Africa and the world will come to you." Easy, perhaps, the vision was there, but what was the reality, was such an International Conference possible?

It was possible, and so the social studies world came to Africa in 1994. Participants from thirty nations-there were those from all eighteen African countries that have adopted social studies; Americans, almost 200 of them, 100 of whom offered presentations; and teachers from the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and Australia-all came to see each other and to have a dialogue. Of course, the Francistown Botswanians were there also and their vision was now a reality.

The NCSS Board of Directors decided to demonstrate a concern for the African continent by holding the International Social Studies Conference off the North American continent for the first time. The Board was sending a message that the development of social studies was a commitment not just in Africa but around the world, and that if a continent's resolve to develop social studies was strong enough, then NCSS would be there to help.

To suggest that the process of creating the Conference was easy is to stretch the truth. First, a place in Africa to hold the Conference had to be found, then NCSS had to accept a bid from an African sponsoring group, and finally a program had to be developed that met the needs of those who would attend. We could plan an international social studies conference, but would anyone attend?

They did, from all over the world. Attending the panels and meeting participants provided us with a good opportunity to appreciate the diversity of social studies. Some subjects, like mathematics or science, are much the same throughout the world. But when there are 100 countries, that means there are 100 different social studies programs.

In American social studies, the priorities tend to be American problems-multiculturalism, globalism, civil rights, individual liberties, and so forth. Elsewhere, the major priorities change. Issues affecting development are particularly important in the Third World, where social studies classes examine development strategies based on self-help, small industries, and regional markets.

Social studies has also been an excellent means for students in newly independent countries to find out more about their national history and the challenges facing their states. During the colonial age, the school systems in colonized countries followed the curricula of the colonizers, and students often learned more about their colonizers' histories than about their own. This

system persisted into the post-independence period. When I taught in Nigeria, for example, in 1974, I found my Nigerian students still learning the dates and the reigns of the kings and queens of England, without many resources for finding out about Nigerian history. Social studies classes have increasingly become an important means for them to find out about their country's history and its contemporary challenges.

The rise of democracy in the world is likely to be very favorable for the teaching of social studies. Dictators are hostile to subjects in which students are taught to think independently. In Malawi, for example, when Hastings Banda established his authoritarian rule, social studies was cut out of the curriculum and replaced by prosaic descriptions of the structure and function of government. Kenya, our host country, is a good example of the trend toward freedom. In 1993, its first free elections with opposition parties were held. I found our Kenyan colleagues excited by the prospect of a future in which, among other things, their students could be encouraged to speak freely on important subjects and examine and evaluate different points of view.

Requests for information on the development and practice of social studies are flowing in from all over the world: Korea, India, Jordan, Turkey, Hungary, Namibia, the Seychelles, West Indies, and from newly formed countries that have just joined the United Nations. The NCSS founders pursued a vision which has now been translated into ideas: the NCSS definition, position statements on teaching and learning, and curriculum standards. Not only do those ideas respond to America's interests but they also represent a growing acknowledgment of the NCSS responsibility to develop the field with other social studies teachers around the world. NCSS is committed to carrying this vision of evolving social studies on to the Fourth International Social Studies Conference in Australia in 1997 and, hopefully, Tokyo, Japan, at the turn of the century. I am relieved and happy that NCSS has made its statement about the importance of social studies in developing nations, and not just in Africa.

What was memorable for me about the Conference was that NCSS has now committed itself to a transnational role. NCSS was showing leadership, looking not only to its own country's interests but also to those countries that called upon the organization for support. Not only does the organization support a view of the world as a global village, but the members of NCSS are beginning to realize that they have a world role. The role has been manifested in the First International Social Studies Conference in Vancouver, the Second in Miami, the Third in Nairobi, and, of course, the two other International Conferences that are to be planned by the turn of the century. I could not help but wonder what the NCSS founders would have thought about an internationalized social studies movement. Could our founders have ever envisioned that NCSS would now be a sponsor of international conferences that meet on continents other than North America?

Time's up! The two minutes have passed. The engines roar, and the 747 hurtles down the runway. The lights from Kenyatta International Airport flash by. The wheels are up. The lights of Nairobi sparkle in the distance. I have left Africa. The dream is over, the vision remains.

James L. Barth is Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

Educating and Challenging the World

Gavin Faichney
Social Education 58(6), 1994, pp. 372-374 National Council for the Social Studies
Participants in this Nairobi experience were invited to a ". . . dynamic conference [that] will bring together social studies professionals from throughout the world to exchange views on important global issues, to share professional ideas, and in particular, to learn more about each other."1
The fulfillment of this overture began with the impressions that visiting conferees received on arrival in what is probably the most stable and prosperous of the central African nations.

Approaching Nairobi from the airport, after almost 23 hours of flying from Australia, one was conscious of contrasts within this continent of contradictions. Flying north from Johannesburg, it was impossible not to notice the greenness of Kenya. For the first-time traveler to Africa, the forbidding demeanor and imposing position of the immigration officers is somewhat daunting.

Traveling into the downtown area, however, on a Sunday afternoon, along a four-lane highway in the hotel air-porter, and coming across two unconcerned Masai warriors in traditional garb leading their herds of cattle, one on each side of the road, is reassuring. One's expectations were both confirmed and surprised by being able to view lions, rhinoceros, zebra, and antelope in the wild, with a backdrop of a modern city on the skyline; a noble and dignified people, dressed in European clothing, walking miles to their destinations; the sizable Kenyatta Sports Stadium; the unfinished and abandoned buildings; the wide streets and the circles that direct the frantic traffic; the ancient London taxis; the development within the commercial district; and finally the hospitality and friendliness of the hotel staff.

At registration, and again as the conference program began on Monday morning, one became conscious of an African approach to planning and organization that both frustrated and at the same time endeared participants to a relaxed manner of successful implementation. As the proceedings commenced, one became aware that for our African colleagues, this was a very important occasion, one that would allow them to demonstrate that while educational environments and experiences across the continent were by no means ideal, our colleagues were not simply adopting solutions and approaches that had been formulated elsewhere, without sufficient regard for their applicability.

With regard to environmental education in particular, both educational and other governmental agencies were developing their own exciting responses to this most critical area of concern for these developing nations. At the Conservation Education Dinner on Sunday evening, as we dined on cuts of barbecued beef, lamb, chicken, impala, eland, giraffe, zebra, and crocodile, we heard from Dr. David Western, Director of the Kenyan Wildlife Services, of how the tourist dollar is being used to care for and manage the wildlife, of how the Masai and their traditional approaches are increasingly being involved in land management schemes, and how the balance between tourist demands and this policy of environmental maintenance is being achieved.

It was also obvious that cooperative ventures at curriculum and resource development were being attempted between many of the central African nations, despite their diverse political and cultural perspectives. Two examples are publications by the African Social and Environmental Studies Programme (ASESP): Social Studies Curriculum and Teaching Resource Book for Africa and Environmental Education for Sustainable Development for Primary School Teachers and Teacher Educators in Africa. Both publications grew out of a cooperative approach following an initial response to an identified need.

The first book project followed the successful production of a national source book by the Department of Curriculum Development and Evaluation in Botswana for its social studies teachers in 1990. "Having participated in the Botswana project, the ASESP Secretariat felt that the need for a similar resource that would be generic to all member countries of the Program was compelling."2 As a result, the Secretariat of ASESP, under the guidance of Professor James Barth of Purdue University, coordinated the work of contributors from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone to produce a "common basic social studies text on curriculum and methods."3 In a similar manner, the second of the two texts mentioned above was developed through the joint efforts of researchers from Botswana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone. During an ASESP-sponsored workshop that followed, representatives from fifteen of the member nations of ASESP contributed to the publication "which aims at enhancing the knowledge and pedagogical competencies of teachers, student teachers and tutors to effectively deal with environmental education learning and training."4

The contributions of all sectors of society to the development of social and environmental education is of significance. Although approaches to the issue of gender continue to reflect a paternalistic perspective, it was suggested by Dr. Eva Rathgeber, Regional Director of the International Development Research Centre, that since traditionally women rather than men had been more involved with the environment through their daily activity of gathering water and firewood and tending the vegetable farms, perhaps any effective conservation of the environment should focus on and evolve around the experience of these women. On the final day of the conference, a panel of women lawyers told of their endeavors to enter the legal profession, a traditional bastion of male domination. Their experiences tended to reinforce the continuing difficulties facing women as they attempt to equalize gender participation.

On the last day of the conference, Professor Aliu Fafunwa, founder of Social Studies Education in Africa and former Minister of Education in Nigeria, gave an address titled "Social Studies and Mass Literacy in Africa: First Things First." He identified the problem of literacy as being a priority for the whole sub-Saharan continent. He was, however, able to offer a rather interesting solution to this vexing situation. Through his slogan "Each One Teach One," he suggested that if all literate members of the African communities took up this concept, by the turn of the century illiteracy in the region might well be non-existent.

In closing, it would be remiss not to mention the highlight of my trip to Kenya. On the day after the conclusion of the formal program, a visit to a Masai village was organized for twenty of the conference participants. Following a traditional consensus meeting of a group of Masai warriors, it was agreed that a request by the District Administrator and a Masai Chief for our visits to their village and homeland would be acceptable. The Masai boarded our bus, and we proceeded through a torrential downpour to the site of their village within the "rift" valley, some fifty or so miles northwest of Nairobi. To the great relief of all the visitors, many of the warriors spoke English and thus were able to explain their way of life and answer our questions. Their ownership of their lands has enabled them to maintain their herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, and thus continue to sustain a traditional lifestyle within the village for their family groups, as well as enabling some kinfolk to participate in the developing economic life of the wider community. For these, education is encouraged, while others are schooled in the tribal traditions for the purpose of retaining customary life. Their hospitality was very gracious and the opportunity to enter their village and homes a privilege.

On reflection, my impressions of this very short experience in Nairobi are very positive. Despite the political and economic difficulties faced by the Kenyans, they are a proud and generous people. At all times the staff of the hotel and the conference organizers could not do enough to meet a request for assistance. With a population of two million, fifty percent of whom are unemployed, each day would see both those with work and many without arrive downtown, very neatly attired, having walked several miles from their apartments in the hills surrounding the city, to attend their jobs or participate in discussion groups which would gather to share opinions about the daily happenings. The largely agricultural economy is under constant threat from changing climatic conditions and manipulation from overseas market interests. The government, though not commanding the support of all, is firmly entrenched as a result of ethnic patronage, and faces an inadequate budget to fully maintain and further develop the infrastructure required of a contemporary competitive society.

It is thus important that, through the networks that can be developed by participation in such events as the International Social Studies Conference, we come to share ideas with and learn more about, and from, our colleagues in other parts of the world. All are concerned with the development of young people who, as citizens, will be able to claim "I know what's going on, I'm part of it, and I'm doing something about it."5 In this regard, I would like to invite all readers of Social Education to participate in the Fourth International Social Studies Conference, which will be held in Australia in 1997.

Gavin Faichney is a professor in the School of Language, Cultural Arts and Education, Faculty of Education, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia.

1 Registration Brochure, Third International Social Studies Conference, Social Studies Education: Challenges and Opportunities in a World of Rapid Change (Nairobi: The African Social and Environmental Studies Program, Kenya, March, 1994), 1.

2 Peter Muyanda-Mutebi and Martin Yiga-Matovu, eds., ASESP Social Studies Curriculum and Teaching Resource Book for Africa (Nairobi: African Social and Environmental Studies Programme, 1994), iii.

3 Ibid., ii.

4 Peter Muyanda-Mutebi and Martin Yiga-Matovu, eds., Environmental Education for Sustainable Development for Primary School Teachers and Teacher Educators in Africa (Nairobi: The ASESP Secretariat, 1993), 1.

5 "A Basic Rationale for Social Studies Education" in The Social Studies Planning Kit (SSSP, Education Department of Victoria, 1977), 22.

Africa: Myth and Reality

Barbara B. Brown
Social Education 58(6), 1994, pp. 374-375 National Council for the Social Studies
Why travel all the way to Africa to an international NCSS conference? The main reason is simple: the most powerful learning comes from experience matched with more formal education. This year's conference in Nairobi offered specialized tours around the city as well as formal sessions on Africa and on general social studies issues. The conference also provided participants with important opportunities to talk with colleagues from Kenya and around the world.
Whenever we travel, we find how much more interesting reality is than our preconceptions. African reality is certainly more complex than the books and movies we are usually exposed to in the United States. The conference gave me the opportunity to explore similarities and differences in politics and in educational reform. Unfortunately, not all of my discoveries at the conference were pleasant. The scourge of old stereotypes continues to plague Africa. The conference served as a strong reminder to be thoughtful in how we teach about the continent.

Political Realities
Any reality we construct of a place is only partial. No matter how much knowledge each of us brought to the conference in Kenya, we learned more. I arrived full of a knowing cynicism about corruption and authoritarian rule in Kenya. Reading the newspapers seemed only to confirm my suspicions. Yet Kenyan colleagues contradicted my presumptions, insisting that I was paying attention to the wrong part of the news stories. They pointed out that corruption and government threats were news: they were now being brought into the open, when they had once only been the subject of whispered conversations. Certainly the reporting of corruption and assassinations does not in itself constitute democracy, but open debate about them represented an enormous step toward such democracy.

Giving weight to my colleagues' argument was a visit I and other conference participants were able to make to parliament. I sat in a visitors' gallery, crammed full of young people, all hunched forward listening to the debate. It wasn't even a particularly important debate that afternoon, yet people were eager to hear the arguments. The next day, I heard sustained shouting outside my hotel room. I ran to my window to see a demonstration of young men running, carrying palm fronds, and shouting about the victory their candidate had just won in a by-election. I left Kenya encouraged by such political developments. I also left mindful of the danger of missing the unwritten but crucial context in which news stories are written.

Comparing Educational Reform
Visiting another country allows us to see familiar issues in new ways. Two presentations at the conference made me pinch myself to be sure I wasn't home in Boston discussing the frustrations of educational reform. In the first presentation, we heard a familiar tale of gender bias in textbooks, this time in Kenya. However, as the talk went on, we learned of a critical difference between the United States and Kenya: Kenyan texts are particularly important because they are frequently the only books a child ever reads. Thus, the struggle to end gender bias takes on a special urgency there.

Another presentation featured Kenyan education professors exploring the gap between intended reform and actual classroom practice. As they shared their frustration over resistance to moving from a teacher-centered to a child-centered pedagogy, I heard echoes of similar conversations in Boston. However, visiting Kenyan schools with colleagues reminded me of the difficulty of making such changes in schools where the class size is often sixty and basic materials are lacking. As a gift, I brought a world map to one school, by no means the poorest in Kenya. The students couldn't locate Kenya on it, because they hadn't seen a map before. For their art lessons, the teacher made paint by mixing wheat flour with dirt. Yet on the playground, I saw fewer differences in opportunities between the United States and Kenya. I watched children play many of the same games as Boston children: soccer, dodge ball, jump rope, and jacks. Although the school had no money for equipment, the children simply made their own. (These well-made toys and games will form the basis of a traveling kit for the Boston Children's Museum on "A Child's Life in Kenya.")

Reality and Tourism: the Masai and the Exotic
Although these presentations at the conference offered new perspectives on old problems, other presentations were more problematic. I had hoped that by traveling to Kenya I could escape some of the stereotyped perspectives on Africa that I have witnessed in the United States. Yet the conference organizers decided to single out the Masai as a topic for three presentations. No other ethnic group on the continent was the subject of any presentation. Many people from outside Africa are unaware that the Masai and other semi-nomadic groups are atypical of Kenya and highly atypical of the continent. Most Africans are farmers. It would be as if Africans were to attend an NCSS conference to find that the only presentations devoted to U.S. ethnic groups were three workshops on the Amish!1

During colonial rule, the British highlighted Masai life, because as colonizers they wanted to promote an image of Africans as different and nobly primitive. In U.S. textbooks we still find residues of this attitude reflected in a frequency of photographs of the Masai out of all proportion to their actual numbers (several hundred thousand in a continent with more than 700 million people). We need to think about why the Masai are so compelling a subject. Are we only interested in Africans as the exotic "other"? We should remember that in teaching about Africa, our mistakes tend to come not from using inaccurate or outdated information but from choosing the wrong information to focus on.

The Kenyan tourist industry in some ways conspires to reinforce our stereotypes. Tourism is a major source of foreign exchange. What better way to encourage tourism than to stress the exotic? Once in the country, it was hard to find postcards depicting any of the scenes that were in front of my eyes. Instead, I was offered bare-breasted young women, Masai warriors, and wild animals, all twirling on their spindles in the stores, with only an occasional shot of an urban monument thrown in. I fear that the hotel shopkeepers know what we want. In an attempt to turn the tables on these distorted images, I bought a sample of these postcards for colleagues to take into classes at home and ask students to compare with Kenyan reality. Then, they can collect postcards about their own city and discuss tourism versus reality, perhaps concluding the activity by creating their own postcards of Boston and Nairobi.

Unfortunately, it is not only the shopkeepers who know what we want. Jacaranda, one of the publishers at the conference, claims to provide "authentic African children's books from Kenya." Their managing director told me that they plan to produce yet more Masai materials, even though they know the Masai are unrepresentative of Kenya. Why? Because they will sell well to the United States, their principal market. The director said she had to think of their "bottom line." (Jacaranda's Mcheshi series, however, avoids this trap and is excellent.)

Television and Movie "Reality"?
At home in the United States, television and the movies have distorted African reality. TV offers us a narrow perspective on nature programs and disaster politics. Hollywood, for its part, has never been interested in reality, especially about black people. Perhaps that is why most films about Africa have white stars, like Out of Africa, or focus on animals, like The Lion King. We need to do careful reality checks on any media representation of Africa. We need to ask: what is truly representative of the continent? Most Africans have never seen the wild animals for which Africa is famous. A Kenyan teacher told me that her first viewing was as a high school senior whose class raised funds for all of them to visit a game park. Few African countries have big herds of elephants, zebras, and other animals. A Nigerian colleague told me the first wild animals she saw were in Madison, Wisconsin. . . at a zoo.

The Search for Accurate Teaching Materials
When we teach about Africa, a continent burdened by centuries of exploitation and continuing misinformation, we have a special responsibility. Stereotyped textbooks, picture books, films, and curriculum guides continue to litter our classrooms. We have a responsibility to ask ourselves: is this portrayal representative? is it an accurate depiction of a country? do we see urban and rural life? rich and poor? problems and possibilities? In short, we have a responsibility to learn more in order to be able to question our sources.

Fortunately, outstanding literature, texts, videos, and curriculum guides are available. The difficulty in accessing these is two-fold: first, knowing where to search for these materials, as many come from small publishers and non-profit organizations; and second, knowing how to separate the gold from the dross. An introductory guide to teaching materials about Africa is available from the Africa Outreach Program at Boston University. Besides this guide, educators can contact any of the federally funded National Resource Centers on Africa. They each have an outreach staff person to advise on purchases as well as to organize workshops and institutes in their area of the country. A list of these centers is available through the Africa Outreach Program at Boston University, 270 Bay State Rd., Boston, Massachusetts 02215.

As I was leaving Kenya, the airport offered me one last lesson on stereotyping through two ads I saw posted. The first one, next to the check-in counter, depicted a British Airways cockpit. In the pilots' seat with headphones on were a cheetah and a Masai warrior. The second ad hit me appropriately as I was ascending the escalator to depart for the United States. It depicted the familiar Marlboro man on a horse lassoing cattle. The Wild West meets Wild Africa. Clearly, myths and stereotypes are not solely an African problem. Our challenge as educators is to replace these myths with reality.

Barbara B. Brown is director of the Africa Outreach Program at Boston University.

1 Jo Sullivan, former director of Boston University's Africa Outreach Program, suggested the analogy between the Masai and the Amish.

We Went and Are Glad

Charlotte C. Anderson and Lee F. Anderson
Social Education 58(6), 1994, pp. 375-376 National Council for the Social Studies
Both professional and personal chords were struck from the moment we first started to seriously contemplate attending the Third International Social Studies Conference. On a professional level, we recognize our responsibilities-especially as social studies educators-to work to enhance our own global perspectives and concomitant cross-cultural competencies. Attending the Nairobi conference held the promise of assisting us to grow in these respects. On a personal level, Kenya has been a place we have "always" wanted to visit; additionally, we thought that Africa just might be the key to getting Charlotte's parents to travel with us. And, we were right! It was, and they did-along with our twelve-year-old niece.
So there we were in Africa, getting perspectives on cultures quite different from our own from the vantage point of three different generations of one family who are-as the kids say-"coming from" different cultural perspectives themselves. The two of us are now "urbanized" in the midwest USA and socialized into the "culture of academia and education" and the three of them are "ruralized" in the northwest USA and socialized into the "culture of dairy farming." Together we had one of those unforgettable experiences of a lifetime! Several other NCSS members from the United States also brought family members with them who, from all indications, were also having a marvelous time together in Africa. (Other nieces and nephews are chorusing, "Where are you going next, Aunt Charlotte?" They are being told to start saving their money now for the 1997 trip to Australia!)

Of course, the expense of attending an international conference-especially one as far away as Nairobi-is not inconsequential. However, from our perspectives, it is well worth focusing resources for experiences such as this. It combines access to social studies educators from around the world with the opportunity to travel. The best travel experiences we have had are those which combine these two precious ingredients. The trip to Kenya was definitely one of those very best!

The safari that many of us from the United States experienced exemplified this richness. After a day in the land rover on safari in the Masai Mara Animal Preserve, the talk - back at the lodge - would begin with enthusiastic recounting of the animals sighted but, then, with equal vigor often turned to social studies. And, being the social studies "animals" that we are, insights were shared on ways that today's adventures could be mined for improving our social studies efforts back home. There must be some principle or law of creativity that says one's creativity expands in direct proportion to the distance between one's self and one's everyday responsibilities. These were productive sessions.

Back in Nairobi, with the opening session of the conference, we were reminded of what Americans are inclined to forget - that social studies education is a transnational phenomenon, not simply a North American one. Experiencing the transnational character of the social studies field as a subject and as a profession provides a vivid illustration of many of the intellectual issues that lie at the heart of our discipline.

One of these is the simultaneous commonality and diversity of human experience. As is the case with so much in the contemporary world, one social studies conference is like all other social studies conferences, regardless of their geographical location. Professional conferences are in some respects a uniform cultural institution in the same sense that airports, oil refineries, department stores, universities, and schools are. But, in other ways, conferences reflect the diversity of the larger culture in which they are embedded. We experience some of this when we attend NCSS conferences in different regions of the United States. However, in attending an international conference we experience even more keenly outcroppings of the cultural diversity which we teach about in our schools and universities.

For example, while agendas or programs which lay out the timing and sequencing of events are nearly universal artifacts of conferences, and the clocks that monitor that scheduling have become ubiquitous technologies the world over, the experience and social significance of clocktime clearly differs from place to place. We certainly found evidence of this, for it was not long into the conference when we realized that our hosts were not nearly as time driven as is the norm for social studies conference organizers in the United States. Initially, we felt considerable consternation over the fact that there was no or little congruence regarding the time our watches showed, the activity that the program indicated would be (therefore, should be?) occurring at that time, and the activity that was actually happening. Fortunately, for our own peace of mind, we soon eased into a more people-centered rather than time-centered mode and found ourselves much happier "going with the flow."

Similarly, there are no conferences without protocol, but what conference protocol is clearly varies with place and time. There is a certain definable conference protocol for NCSS conferences in the United States. While we consider ourselves somewhat anthropologically competent when it comes to analyzing cultural artifacts, we were not even aware of much of the protocol that was undoubtedly governing the Nairobi conference. We did discern, however, that it was protocol for each speaker to be assigned a chair whose responsibilities included providing a quite rigorous abstraction of the speaker's address. This practice is rather like the protocol for manuscripts in learned journals which open with an abstract of that piece. After observing several chairs perform this formidable task (they did not appear to have advanced copies of the speeches), we were both very impressed with their skill and thankful that we weren't chairing and, therefore, didn't have to work that hard! Such oral abstracts have the potential for sharpening the subsequent discussion from the floor.

As social studies educators, we often speak of the importance of developing students' cross-cultural awareness and consciousness of perspectives defined as a recognition that each of us has cognitive perspective and our own perspectives are not shared by everyone. Participation in international conferences is definitely good self-education in this regard.

Charlotte Anderson is President, Education for Global Involvement, Inc., Chicago. Lee F. Anderson is Professor of Political Science in the School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

Africa's Cry for the Social Studies

Frederick Isele
Social Education 58(6), 1994, p. 378 National Council for the Social Studies
The many educational opportunities, experiences, and dialogues offered by the Third International Social Studies Conference (ISSC) in Nairobi made it a powerful moment in my life. I found myself with teachers who were psychologically shattered by the shocking events engulfing Africans everywhere. Although our ISSC schedule and agenda included many traditional perspectives on Africa (safari trips, museum visits, etc.), our serious dialogue included such profound topics as the acknowledgment of unbelievable civil war horrors in nearby Rwanda, the fateful reports of uncontrolled starvation and disease still ever present in next-door Somalia, and the unchecked dominance of AIDS geometrically spreading throughout the Central African population. Obviously, these daunting issues could not just be swept aside like so many terrible lightening storms passing through the area. If these human problems are systematically ignored by educators at all levels in schools throughout the world today, we will be facing not a new order, but a permanently troubled and dysfunctional planet.
To many of the Conference participants, these conditions were seen as epic human disasters lying ahead if teachers everywhere do not collectively take a leadership role and focus their school and community attention on the fundamental importance of building outstanding social studies programs. Even the spirited international corps of educators trying to address Africa's profound issues firsthand voiced their valuable support of our social studies goals. They agreed that there was an expressed, heart-filled hope that our united efforts might be able to reach the children of the world in time to prepare them for their responsible roles as citizens of the twenty-first century.

Many other significant perspectives were gained from attending the ISSC. For one, the ancient question about the future welfare of the social studies was challenged and interfaced with those ongoing African voices calling for nothing less than the reeducation of humanity. There was also a dialogue about the need for teachers to make a serious reexamination of the many powerful forces of politics and commercialization dominating social studies education. Fortunately, most ISSC teachers and presenters believed that the promise of the social studies was seen as more than just a career education program here, a specialized social science there, or the retooling of boys and girls for traditional marketplace roles.

Through an African teacher's comparative perspective, our educational dialogue could imply more than the trite meaning of just acquiring knowledge. With illiteracy and mortality rates reaching epic proportions in Eastern Africa, teachers honestly admitted that these tragic, present-day issues have always been interrelated and difficult to understand. Africans believe that effective social studies education programs are urgently needed for school children everywhere, and that they form a vital part of the objective of obtaining a lasting peace on earth. Social studies is seen as having the potential to induce us to acknowledge our own limitations, our own biases, and our own lack of wisdom. It can also be trusted as a wonderful educational tool to help children know themselves, understand and appreciate others, love their neighbor, and develop a sense of excitement about our collective future on the planet. Finally, the ISSC called for educators to attend the Fourth International Social Studies Conference in Sydney, Australia, in three years.

The Third International Conference challenged us to question what all of us as global citizens can do together to improve our world. As our era is emerging from the Cold War, each contributing society of educators will need to continue a dialogue about the many significant purposes of social studies. While also exploring many other pedagogical needs, one leading African professor contributed the idea of developing local social studies forums for teachers, students, and parents so that an entire educational community of voices may be shared at ISSC-Sydney. Many other inspiring perspectives were added and documented during this ISSC.

If the social problems and issues which are so graphically illustrated in Africa are bypassed or ignored by our schools, then many who attended the Conference believe that all of humanity will eventually have itself to blame for irreversible trends like those witnessed today in Africa. Hopefully, as our international social studies perspectives become more recognized and defined, the enormity of our earth's issues and problems may be accepted at home and introduced into classroom dialogues. The many dedicated and committed scholars who attended ISSC-Nairobi agreed that establishing viable social studies programs will make a significant first step to world peace and understanding that will lead to the growth and development of an intelligent citizenry.

Since returning home, I have sent out many politically based letters, changed my entire focus on social studies topics, read incessantly, and sent money to charities like never before. If any educator would enjoy taking a leadership position for the social studies, I highly recommend your attendance at the ISSC in Sydney, Australia. It will make a difference in your perspective.

Frederick Isele is Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.