On March 1, 1896, a massive Ethiopian army routed Italian forces at the Battle of Adwa. The battle marked the largest military triumph of an African state over a European army in the 19th century and helped Ethiopia retain its independence during Europe’s “scramble for Africa.” In this lesson students read three different textbook accounts of the battle – two American and one Ethiopian – to investigate the question: How did Ethiopia defeat Italy at the Battle of Adwa?

Image: 1895 Illustration from French newspaper depicting the Battle of Amba Alage. From the Wikimedia Commons.


My students thoroughly enjoyed this lesson. To add further comparison, we looked at our current textbook to see if there were similarities in the way the story was depicted. The students were also curious as to how the battle is documented in an Italian textbook.
I used this lesson with my Italian 8th grade students. Usually I have some lessons about World History or World Geography in English. Using your documents (very relevant) and your PowerPoint, it was easier to make them interested in central questions. I really appreciated the lesson plan. It's great. Thank you for sharing it with me.
Sounds like there's some excellent historical inquiry happening in your classroom, bhohmann! We encourage teachers to adapt our lessons to meet their students' needs. Adding an excerpt from an Italian textbook sounds like a great modification. No one on SHEG's staff reads Italian, but we wish you luck if you choose to make the addition!
This is a fantastically engaging learning activities. My 9th grade students really enjoyed it. They had so much to say about the contrasting textbook narratives so we ran a Socratic Seminar around it. In doing so, students wondered how an Italian world history textbook told the story of the Battle of Adwa. Is it possible to add an excerpt from an Italian textbook? It would probably make for an even more interesting and enriching activity.
Great suggestion, ascienzo! We've added a marker to the map to show where Adwa is.
Great contrast of messages in the textbook excerpts. The PowerPoint contains a note on the slide with Africa map asking if a marker should be added identifying Adwa - I think it should! Would give a spatial and geographic context for the reader.
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