Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies

Article excerpt

Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education: A Paradox of Black Life in White Societies, edited by Mwalimu J. Shuiaa. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1994. 424 pp. $45.95, cloth; $16.95, paper.

According to editor Shujaa, this collection of essays presents a "concert-on-paper built upon meaningful parts that meld into a dynamic whole" (p. 9). As the self-proclaimed orchestra leader of this concert and author of 2 of the book's 16 chapters as well as its five section introductions, Shujaa goes on to explain that this dynamic whole is an examination and indictment of the schooling of Blacks, especially in the United States. It is also, he notes, a prescription for African-centered education as the alternative or, at best, a complement to schooling.

The organizing themes of the book include calls for the following changes in schooling in the U.S.: (1) a shift from a preoccupation with schooling to a concern for education; (2) a shift in the schools' orientation to knowledge to better respect African cultures and perspectives; (3) a recognition and accommodation of African American resistance to schooling; (4) the embracing of an African-centered pedagogy; and (5) Black people's assumption of responsibility for the education of Black youth. Shujaa distinguishes between schooling and education in a very thoughtful and carefully argued early chapter. The former, he notes, is "a process intended to perpetuate and maintain the society's existing power relations and the institutional structures that support those arrangements" (p. 15). The latter is "the process of transmitting from one generation to the next knowledge of the values, aesthetics, spiritual beliefs, and all things that give a particular cultural orientation its uniqueness" (p. 15). This explanatory chapter is followed by 15 others in which authors describe and advocate for African-centered pedagogy.

As background for the work reported in this book, the editor has included a chapter by Jacob Carruthers on "Black Intellectuals and the Crisis of Black Education." This is a provocative think-piece that should challenge those of us who think of ourselves as members of the Black intelligentsia. Also included is Beverly Gordon's (no family relationship to the reviewer) comprehensive epistemological treatment of the relationship between cultural knowledge and liberatory education. Gordon's essay alone is worth the price of the book.

Nsenga Warfield-Coppock's discussion of rites of passage as an extension of education into the African American community embodies notions that many Black communities are finding useful. Kwame Akoto's, Molefi Asante's, Joyce King's, and Carol Lee's treatments of approaches to African-centered education are consistent with some of the best practice in this field. Like the aforementioned essays, Nah Dove's discussion of supplementary schools and Shujaa's analysis of the African American independent schools movement include notions and models that are pregnant with possibilities for more effectively engaging students in the processes of intellectual development. Deserving of special notice is Vernon PoIite's discussion of the ecology of resistance to schooling not so much as a "fear of acting white" (Fordham, 1989) as a natural rejection of the educational neglect, lack of caring, and instructional malpractice they experience in school settings that have not changed to reflect the changes in its clientele. A better understanding of the nature and meaning of the history of African American resistance to schooling (treated in separate chapters by Ronald Butchart, Joan Ratteray, and Violet Harris) and greater familiarity with the variety of experiences with and perspectives on schools and education (covered in the chapters by Kofi Lomotey, Gail Foster, and Vivian Gadsden) have the potential for greatly enhancing the readiness of some of us professionals for more effective service in the education of Black students.

There is much in this book that, if sensitively implemented, will greatly increase the engagement of Black children with their education. …

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