Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Understanding African American Males' Schooling Experiences: A Qualitative Inquiry

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Understanding African American Males' Schooling Experiences: A Qualitative Inquiry

Article excerpt

African American males need early positive schooling experiences to prepare them for lifelong learning in the classroom, yet many African American males do not attend quality preschool programs or participate in early learning opportunities (McCall, 1993). These types of early childhood experiences might better prepare African American males for learning and foster a positive schooling experience. Rounds-Bryant (2008) concluded that "school is the first public place that many children get the opportunity to demonstrate mastery and competence outside of their family environment" (p. 27). In addition, Rounds-Bryant postulated that early failure in school typically leads to classroom frustration, academic withdrawal, and negative behavior. Most important, early academic successes might promote a long-lasting appreciation for schooling among African American males.

Literature Review

Historical Overview of African American Males

The experience of African American males in America is unlike any experience other immigrants have faced (Douglas, 2007). During slavery, African Americans were dehumanized and treated as inferior based solely on their skin color (Douglas; Anton, 2009). Even today, individuals discriminate against African American males by assuming they possess less-than-acceptable qualities, such as being lazy and irresponsible (Douglas; Swanson, Cunningham, & Spencer, 2003). African American males may still be experiencing the residual effects of slavery, and their academic performance may be linked to biases (Douglas). Hallinan (2010) revealed that with "roots in history of slavery, civil war, and racial segregation, Black-White differences in social status and resources have been difficult to overcome" (p. 50). Hallinan further noted that for decades public schools enrolled primarily non-Black students, making it essentially illegal for African American students to read or write. Historically, African Americans have inherited generations of self-hatred and the looming effects of slavery (Douglas). Many African American males have internalized negative stereotypes about themselves, their appearance, and their abilities. As a result, these negative beliefs about the dominant culture may have impeded the academic potential of African American males (Douglas; Bell, 2009) and interfered with their overall ability to become successful in classrooms that yield a positive schooling experience.

School Experiences of African American Males

Fostering a positive schooling experience for African American males involves respecting them and valuing their classroom contributions (Bell, 2009, 2010). Many African American males lack adequate opportunities to develop positive classroom experiences. They are often berated for minor classroom behavioral issues that become magnified by teachers and administrators. This prevents an alarming number of African American males from positively engaging in the learning process. When this happens, African American males find their problems are often exacerbated by educators and taken more seriously as compared to those of White male offenders. This leads to a distortion of African American males' view of schooling and thus interferes with creating positive schooling experiences.

McLaren and Kincheloe (2007) posited the resistance theory as a means to help African American males compensate for complex educational issues. This theory provides a mechanism for understanding how African American males react to school conditions and helps to make meaning of how African American males respond to the school environment and policies (Noguera, 2001). African American males who attempt to voice their concerns regarding unfair treatment or combat negative school experiences are often seen as antisocial or harboring a negative view of schooling (Bell, 2009). Davis (2003) concluded in his research that to be Black and male in public school places one at risk for a disproportionate number of suspensions and a higher rate of school failure. …

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