Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Sankofa: Go Back and Fetch It, Notes on Afrocentric Pedagogy

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Sankofa: Go Back and Fetch It, Notes on Afrocentric Pedagogy

Article excerpt

Introduction

The problem for many African American children, the education system in the United States is not merely ineffective; it is all too often openly hostile and detrimental (Nobles, 1996). According to Afrocentric philosophy, African Americans in the United States can only be properly understood when both the African cultural and western hemispheric political realities are taken into account together (Nobles, 1996). Of all the problems confronting the African American community today, none are more critical to their future than those related to the education of African American children (Nobles, 1996). The education of African American children continues to be in a state of emergency in school districts across the nation (Shockley and Cleveland, 2011). More often than not Black students are overrepresented in special education classes and underrepresented in gifted classes (Belgrave & Allison, 2006). Today there are a number of Afrocentric community school models, but there has been an absence of research that speaks to the effectiveness of Afrocentric pedagogy. The anticipated outcome of this study is to provide empirical evaluative data about an Afrocentric pedagogical model.

This presentation helps address the misunderstandings that have been so ever present in the disparity of educational equity for peoples of African descent in the United States colonial context. For example, it has become common in the United States for African American students to be disproportionately suspended, expelled, and subject to be put in special education programs in the urban context. It highlights the need for an urgent response to address the quandary of cultural genocide that is waged on Black children. This exercise simultaneously hopes to expand the much-needed discussion of Afrocentric pedagogy to focus on the documentation of effectiveness. This investigation intends to explore the general unknown information about Afrocentric schools by way of in-class observations and semi-structured interviews.

The crisis in Black education is not only that Black children are failing to achieve comparable to White children. In actuality, the system is not designed to educate Black children (Nobles, 1995). Black youth are performing well in some isolated contexts (Christine, 2011; Ginwright, 2004; Holcomb, 2004). For example, the Imhotep Institute is based on rich historical traditions, as well as a spirit that embraces an exciting and promising future. An additional example of Imhotep would be the Ile Omode private school in Oakland, California. Ile Omode is grounded in academic and cultural principles that provide a foundation for the development of self-determined scholarship and leadership (Ile Omode.Org, 2012). According to Asante (1991), "Afrocentricity is a frame of reference wherein phenomena are viewed from the perspective of the African person" (pg.171). This position is important because it allows African people to adhere to their own cultural historical narrative, which allows oneself to be connected historically and philosophically to a group experience.

Criticism of an Afrocentric curriculum most often claim that the Afrocentric curriculum undermines the opportunity for people of African descent to work with other ethnic groups to develop pedagogy (Morrow, 1995). Such criticism insists therefore that the Black child might hold biases and misunderstanding of other ethnic groups. Such critics charge that the Afrocentric curriculum holds more focus on discipline rather than academic excellence (Grant & Sleeter, 2003). Furthermore, critic's charge that knowledge of African American history does not help much with the SATs, and it leaves the regular school curriculum unreformed (Hilliard, 1995). History is rich for the African no matter where he or she may find themselves on the planet today. The African mind has a connection to a rich scholarly history combined with the wisdom accumulated in the present age; both must be willed so that both past and present are utilized to trail-blaze a healthy future. …

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