Contributions of African Americans: Teachers Can't Teach What They Don't Know

By Giles, Rebecca M.; Moore, Alicia L. | Black History Bulletin, Summer-Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Contributions of African Americans: Teachers Can't Teach What They Don't Know


Giles, Rebecca M., Moore, Alicia L., Black History Bulletin


Black History Month is celebrated annually in the United States in February, which marks the birthdays of two men who greatly influenced the African American population--Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. This annual event, originally established as Negro History Week in 1926 by Dr. Carter C. Woodson, was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976, as the nation reached its bicentennial. For more than 30 years, this event has sparked an annual debate regarding the continued usefulness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one ethnic group. The questions surrounding this debate center on two main issues--that four weeks do not provide sufficient opportunity to recognize significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage and that segregating African American history hinders its full integration with American history. Regardless of one's position in this debate, one point is clear--if there is ever to be a time when the American history taught in public schools adequately reflects contributions of all groups involved in its formation, then teachers must be well-informed as to the role played by these groups.

As teacher educators, we conducted a study to answer the following question: Do future teachers have content knowledge of famous African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement? Approximately 100 (n=97; 92 female and 5 male) preservice elementary teachers from an institution in southern Alabama were anonymously surveyed in an attempt to answer this question. Although participants' ages ranged from 19 to over 50, the majority (62) were 19 to 24 years old. While 75 participants classified themselves as White, other ethnicities were represented--African American (19), Native American (2), and Asian American (1).

All participants responded to a Black history quiz developed by the authors. This 20-item multiple choice quiz contained 10 questions pertaining to famous African Americans and 10 questions pertaining to the civil rights movement. The first 10 questions examined knowledge of twentieth century African American athletes, politicians, scientists, and entertainers, while questions 11-20 addressed the Civil Rights Movement from slavery through the 1960s. Each question was followed by a list of three possible responses with the correct choice for each question being the middle option (letter B).

Findings revealed that the Black History knowledge of these future teachers varied greatly. Total number of correct responses ranged from 3 to 20, with an average of 9.39 with African American participants' average number of correct responses (M = 12.42) substantially higher than White participants' average number correct (M = 8.47).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Further, these future teachers were significantly (t (1,99) = 6.84, p<.05) more knowledgeable regarding civil rights (M = 5.40) than contributions of African Americans (M = 4.11), not surprising taking into consideration that many noteworthy events surrounding this movement occurred in the state in which they reside. Similarly, 100 participants (98%) correctly identified the city in which Rosa Parks became famous as Montgomery, AL. The only other item answered, either correctly or incorrectly, with over 90% agreement was the consensus by 96 participants (94%) that the Emancipation Proclamation was the decision issued by President Lincoln in 1863 declaring all slaves in rebellious states to be free.

Unfortunately, one result of this study is that future teachers do not have adequate content knowledge of contributions of African Americans to American history. Subsequently, we urge teacher educators to reevaluate their social studies methods courses with a focus on content and instructional strategies to prepare teachers to be culturally competent. We have included our Black history quiz and answers for you to administer to your students to determine a knowledge baseline.

A tool that we recommend for broadening the knowledge base of preservice teachers and teacher educators is, The Making of African American Identity (Volumes I-III), online collections of primary resources by the National Humanities Center. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Contributions of African Americans: Teachers Can't Teach What They Don't Know
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.