Term Paper: African Centered Education

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[. . .] An additional reason for the importance of the African centered curriculum is the fact that all cultures, particularly suppressed ones, needs its own tools for its restoration, maintenance and development (Carruthers, 1995). Western culture has succeeded in its dominance because whites have controlled political, economic and social power for the last several centuries. This control extends to educational policies. Still, some cultures, such as Japan, have managed to rise above western dominance, mainly because the west was not able to gain complete educational hegemony.

A final reason for the African centered curriculum is the nature of the population composition in America, which consists of a variety of ethnic and racial groups (Carruthers, 1995). Therefore, the country should be conceived of as the United States of various ethnic, national and racial groups.

The western curriculum, more or less, serves the cultural interest of whites, who have their roots in European countries. It does not serve the cultural interest of African-Americans. Since population patterns demonstrate that African-Americans live in predominantly African-American communities and attend predominantly African-American schools, it is logical that they should be taught from an African perspective if they wish.

African centered educational program are designed to provide assistance to communities, schools, and teachers who choose to move in the direction of African centered education. Such programs enable those who are attempting to teach correctly about Africa to so. When the African foundation is firmly in place, education about African-American experience will be successful.

Goals of African Centered Education

According to ya Salaam (1991): "Our ancient civilizations are important but they are not the sole criterion. Indeed, to the degree that our traditional life did not enable us to withstand the blows of the empire, to the degree that our traditional gods did not enable us to reject the missionary impulses or at the very least incorporate the new god into our beliefs rather than having the new god dictate the rejection of our traditions, to the degree that our traditional values and beliefs collaborated with the European invaders, to that same degree I suggest there are African traditions which, at best, need to be modified and, perhaps, even ought to be discarded."

The first task of an African centered education is to define what being African is. According to ya Salaam (1991), Africans, and all other people, are defined by color, culture and consciousness. Color is a racial definition, as it describes a group of people with common genetic roots. For ya Salaam, African is inclusive. One can racially claim to be African if some of his or her ancestors are racially African and if he or she chooses to continue that racial identity.

Culture is a way of life, which is defined by normative or group standards. The culture one exhibits defines the person. According to ya Salaam (1991):"We can learn, understand, and relate to many different cultures, but in the final analysis it is our social living which determines which culture we are. Most human beings are born into a culture, but it is also possible to adopt a culture, and over generations become native to the adopted culture"

Consciousness is an important element, as it relate to liberation. According to ya Salaaam (1991): "We must be aware of our people and culture, accept our people and culture, and immerse ourselves in our people and culture. Awareness means more than simple experiencing. Indeed one can witness and not understand, just as one can understand without being a witness. The best is to both witness, i.e., experience, and to understand, i.e., critically reflect on the culture. Given the reality of colonialism and neo-colonialism, it is impossible to be African in the modern world without being socially conscious of what it means to be African, what racism means, what colonialism means. To be African is to be self-reflective."

All three elements are crucial to an African-American student's development. In order for an African centered education to be successful, it needs to be focused on development, meeting the needs of all classes of African-Americans, rather than simply focusing on the career development of African-American professionals and career-minded students.

If an African centered education does not cater to the needs of all classes of Africans and African-Americans then it fails to be relevant to the struggle, even if it has great significance to individuals in their quest for tenure, for promotions, and to hold political office.

Conclusion

African centered education is not a matter of color. It examines any information involving African people and raises questions that enable Africans to be subjects of historical experiences rather than objects on the fringes of another's experience. For example, an Afrocentric view of African conditions during enslavement would view the people not as "slaves" but as "Africans." This view ensures a different mental orientation providing a new perspective and attitude closer to the reality of the people (Asante, 1991).

When we center specific ethnic groups in their own historical and cultural experiences, we expand our knowledge of and appreciation of the human experience. Afrocentric education and its advancement enrich and humanize the world. In this light, it has less to do with cultural separation or racial chauvinism and more to do with humanizing the world by fostering mutual dignity and respect.

Because African centered education is a fairly educational strategy, there are many misconceptions about it. According to Woodson, many of its critics have not read the literature. It is mainly an orientation on how one views data, involving location, place and perspective (Asante, 1991). African centered education gives African-Americans a window to view the world by becoming a transforming agent affording new attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and values. This transforming agent is the only reality for African people (Asante, 1991). African centered education promotes the interpretive life of an African person. It is his richly "textured standing place" (Asante, 1991).

Works Cited

Asante, Molefi Kete (1991). "The Afrocentric Idea in Education." Journal of Negro Education (Spring).

Carruthers, Jacob. (Winter 1995). African Centered Education. Africa Within. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.africawithin.com/carruthers/african_education.htm.

Woodson, Carter. (2000). The Miseducation of the Negro. Africa World Press.

Kalamu ya Salaam. The Importance of an African Centered Education. Gwen Brooks Writers Conference.

Richardson,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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