Afrocentric Education

The concept of Afrocentricism is inspired by the writings of Molefi Asante (1987). The Afrocentric approach is in direct contrast to a multicultural perspective. The Afrocentric movement arose when many African Americans felt a sense of disillusionment resulting from what was perceived as a failure or nonmaterialization of the multicultural system of education and early promises of the civil rights movement. Asante's book The Afrocentric Idea opened the way for the creation of many Afrocentric programs, challenging the Eurocentric "myth of the universality of Western thought and culture."

Afrocentricism interprets reality "from perspectives that are centered by and within the processes that maintain and perpetuate the life and culture of people of African descent." An Afrocentric or African-centered education system implies perpetuation of African culture. A sense of historic pride in the African heritage, reinforcement of the culture and the concomitant sense of belonging are the central points of Afrocentric education.

As a result of the dissatisfaction of African-American students with Eurocentric schooling in America, a desire to create Afrocentric education programs arose. These are based on African traditions, epistemologies and discourse. Initially started as a means to serve African-American children better, in some instances, the system is seen as controversial because it might instill separatism and exclusion. While authors Sonia Nieto (1999) and Cornel West (1993) support the motivation and rationale behind Afrocentric education, they simultaneously question whether Afrocentric education merely replaces Eurocentricism, albeit with a different name or dogma. Peter Murrell's report (1992) indicates the high rate of success of students gaining a positive identity and desire to achieve, within the Afrocentric system.

There are numerous major principles that classify the Afrocentric education system. African spirituality is acknowledged as a vital component. This is said not only to define the uniqueness of the people, but it is also seen as a symbol of liberation. A significant aspect of Afrocentric schooling is the defining of reality from an African perspective, focusing on the needs and interests specific to the people. The educational system gears itself to preparing people of African descent for self-reliance and their own governance. The concept of family is emphasized, particularly the interrelationship among families, communities and nations, and the associated strength this engenders. Highly important is the notion of culture. Thus, historical heritage is taught, along with African customs, traditions, rituals and ceremonies. This ensures perpetuation of the culture and pride in the heritage and a continuation of African life and culture throughout the generations. African spiritualism is considered crucial, with the appropriate means for expression. Afrocentric education is also promoted as preparing African-American youth toward their responsibilities as adults, as well as advocating a harmonious relationship between people of African descent and other cultures.

Since Afrocentric education is determined by perceptions and related ideologies, success depends upon the educational system being taught by people consciously engaged in the above-mentioned concepts and ideologies. The Afrocentric system of education signifies continuation of African cultural history and moving forward into the future for the African people.

Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson founded the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1915. A prolific writer of African-American history, Woodson set the stage for an African-American program of study. The association continues to educate youth, providing programs and models for concepts of citizenship, African-American history and the development of leadership.

The National Council for Black Studies (NCBS), founded in 1975 at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is a coalition set up to promote the advancement of black studies and scholarly research. The organization is devoted to the educational well-being of people of African descent. NCBS created the Afrocentric Core Curriculum, used as a model for curricula for black studies programs. A quarterly newsletter, The Voice of Black Studies, offers shared expression, and the Ella Baker/W.E.B. du Bois Africana Student competition presents scholarly and creative opportunities to examine critical issues facing African people.

Afrocentric education is a process by which youth are prepared for the ongoing celebration of African life. A sense of self-determination is instilled, together with the idea of the link between spirituality and freedom. The unity of family is revered, along with its relationship to nation. Cultural artifacts and their meanings, as well as historical and cultural heritage, form part of the educational programming.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

African-Centered Schooling in Theory and Practice
Diane S. Pollard; Cheryl S. Ajirotutu.
Bergin & Garvey, 2000
Not out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became An Excuse to Teach Myth as History
Mary Lefkowitz.
Basic Books, 1997
African American Culture and Heritage in Higher Education Research and Practice
Kassie Freeman.
Praeger Publishers, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Black to Africa: Some Research Paradigms Reflecting a Black World View"
Afrocentricity: Moving outside of the Comfort Zone
West, C. S'Thembile.
JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Vol. 65, No. 5, May-June 1994
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Against the Multicultural Agenda: A Critical Thinking Alternative
Yehudi O. Webster.
Praeger Publishers, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Afrocentric Education Reform: Origins, Postulates, and Purposes" begins on p. 26
The American Dream and the Public Schools
Jennifer L. Hochschild; Nathan Scovronick.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Afrocentric Education" begins on p. 181
Non-Western Educational Traditions: Indigenous Approaches to Educational Thought and Practice
Timothy Reagan.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005 (3rd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Afrocentrism and the Romanticization of Africa" begins on p. 78
Molefi Asante and an Afrocentric Curriculum
Verharen, Charles C.
The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, Winter 2000
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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