Nyansapo (The Wisdom Knot): Toward an African Philosophy of Education

Nyansapo (The Wisdom Knot): Toward an African Philosophy of Education

Nyansapo (The Wisdom Knot): Toward an African Philosophy of Education

Nyansapo (The Wisdom Knot): Toward an African Philosophy of Education

Synopsis

This study examines the issues of indigenous philosophies, which are embedded in different aspects of socialization process among the Akan of Ghana. The research explores the possibility of forging a new future that builds on the positive aspects of their past and present and on carefully chosen ideas, methods and technology from abroad.

Excerpt

The study of traditional, indigenous educational practices such as rites of passage, folktales, land use, etc. has fallen mainly within the interest of anthropologists. Because scholars have tended to equate education with the formal school building and have consistently focused on the role of literacy and literary tradition, many important and interesting traditions (especially African traditions) have been seen as falling outside the parameters of “legitimate” study in the history and philosophy of education (Reagan, 1996). This is unfortunate, for schools have overlooked the inherent value of informal traditional education (Fafunwa, 1982).

This study examines the issues of indigenous philosophies, which are embedded in different aspects of socialization process among the Akan of Ghana, a major African ethnic group located in the heart of West Africa, described by observers as the “cultural center of Africa.” The research therefore examined the possibility of forging a new future that builds on the positive aspects of their past and present and on carefully chosen ideas, methods and technology from abroad.

To explore the problem, I traveled to Ghana to collect data from June to September 1998. The data collection was done through “participant observation, ” face-to-face interviewing and audio taping participants' responses. I selected the participants through purposeful sampling.

I participated and observed funeral rites, traditional court proceedings and other social and religious activities. I also observed modern classroom teaching and learning, the school atmosphere and everyday activities.

To analyze the data, I applied the domain and thematic analysis (Spradley, 1979). Four main themes that emerged were the vehicles of Akan philosophies, the preparedness of the modern Akan to maintain the indigenous philosophies, factors militating against the maintenance of Akan indigenous philosophies and suggested programs to forge a new curriculum that combines Akan indigenous philosophies with modern education. It was

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