The Middle Passage and the Classroom Teacher: A Journey into Learning

By Rogers, MArceline | Negro History Bulletin, October-December 1997 | Go to article overview

The Middle Passage and the Classroom Teacher: A Journey into Learning


Rogers, MArceline, Negro History Bulletin


The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment which soon converted into terror when I was carried on board.

On July 6, 1997, thirty-four teachers from across the nation and the Caribbean embarked upon an extensive educational journey. These educators gathered at Howard University in Washington. D.C., to spend four weeks of intensive study pertaining to the economic, political and social effects of the middle Passage on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The educators selected for the Institute came with diverse teaching experiences and from various academic disciplines. Some of the participants journeyed from as far away as California, Florida and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, and from as near as the state of Maryland. As the teachers profiled their student populations. the participants soon discovered that the students they taught clearly represented the changing composition of American schools. The various educators taught at public and private schools in both urban and rural areas. One of the teachers had taught at a school that was located on the site of an old plantation. The institute's participants had a strong desire to expand their personal knowledge about the Middle Passage and a willingness to explore new and innovative methods to present information about this topic to their students.

... what a burning shame it is that many of the pieces on the subject of slavery and the slave trade, contained in different school books, have been lost sight of, or been subject to the pruning knife of the slaveholding expurgatorial system!

How much of the Middle Passage topic is really being taught in our schools today? What information is being shared beyond the image of the triangular slave trade? New discoveries are being made daily about the wide range impact of the Middle Passage, but who has access to this information? With these thoughts in mind, the institute's primary goal was to aid its participants by giving information that they would use to plan workable curriculum products for their school districts. Since the Middle Passage topic has often been taught as a part of history which had an impact on the African continent, the institute sought to place this topic in the center of world history. …

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