Talent Development, Cultural Deep Structure, and School Reform: Implications for African Immersion Initiatives
A. Wade Boykin
One of the most dogged challenges that continues to plague African American communities in particular and American society in general is how to do a more effective job of educating the masses of African American students from low-income backgrounds. For from many circles, the same conclusion is drawn. By and large, African American children have not been well served by our nation's public schools. Surely the push for African-centered infusions into public schools represents still another attempt to rectify this troubling situation. The major thesis of this chapter is that while there is wisdom and heuristic value in African-centered initiatives, such efforts must involve broader school reform. That is, fully comprehensive transformations are needed that pierce to the core of the schooling process, impacting on the full range of daily activities, outlooks, structures, and outcomes of the schooling process. The core assumptions, functions, and practices of schooling must change ( Elmore, 1996; Goodman, 1995). Furthermore, this must be coupled with an understanding of the historical purposes that public schools have served in the American social order, the foundational problematics of formal education, and, in turn, appreciation for the complexities and challenges of school reform ( Boykin, 1994, 1996).
In this chapter, salient aspects of African-centered initiatives will first be identified. The larger questions of school reform will then be visited, leading to a plea for an alternative comprehensive model of schooling. A case will then be made that this talent development model of schooling can be successfully fused with African- centered initiatives, particularly the processes of transforming the cultural deep structure of schooling, building on the cultural assets African American children bring with them to school, and ultimately fostering positive life transformations for black children through cultural empowerment. Research consistent with these claims then