Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Monday, January 19, 2015

Geography Lesson: Off to Zungomero

It's interesting that, when I'm "borrowing" lesson outlines from the relatively few available to us online, sometimes a lesson from one book will fit perfectly into an original outline, and then the next doesn't work at all. We had an earlier geography lesson based on Journey to the Source of the Nile which I treated more or less as a map lesson; then there was a short one where we just read. Today's lesson does not fit into the map category very well at all, although I tried. A number of places are mentioned in the reading, but most of them are pretty small and not on the maps; and when you look at the actual ground covered in the passage, it's quite a small bit of turf, relative to the size of Tanzania and the rest of the journey. Kind of like getting to the trolls and spiders chapters in The Hobbit, and realizing there's still an awfully long way to go.

Today's lesson has Christopher Ondaatje and his crew leaving Bagamoyo and attempting to find the place that Richard Burton called Zungomero--which  no longer exists and which nobody (in Ondaatje's experience) seems quite able to place. However, they do end up there, more or less, after some not uninteresting description of the woodland areas near the Selous Game Reserve.

So I decided to use the pattern of a history-lesson-with-map, rather than treat it as a map lesson.  This is what I came up with, based on this Parents' Review article by Eleanor M. Frost. Short and simple.

Subject: Geography.
Time: 30 minutes.  Southern Tanzania—"Bagamoyo to Zungomero." Book studied: Journey to the Source of the Nile, by Christopher Ondaatje.

Show two maps, one the general one in the book (before the start of Chapter 3), and the other a printout of this map of Tanzania, showing a few more place names. We will begin by reviewing the journey so far, looking at the maps.

Next the date 1857 written "on the board," which should bring to mind the names "Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke." Review anything we can recall about these two (I'm optimistic).

From the book we will read, beginning on page 87, about the drive from Bagamoyo to Ngerengere (see Google Maps), narration to follow. Note Ondaatje's observation that what took them only a few hours would have taken Burton and Speke probably a couple of weeks. Note also the lists of animals in the miombo.

Read pages 91-94, ending at a place called Matombo (see Google Maps again). Again, how does Ondaatje compare his journey to the original? For interest: look at pictures of the Matombo Mission.

(The search for Zungomero will continue in the next lesson.)

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