An Afro Centric Curriculum
Will Segregate Students
June 21, 2005
- Being literate is more than just being able to read
words. There is a world of experiences which children and adults can
appreciate more fully if they can extrapolate from what they have previously
encountered and apply it to new situations. Obviously the more you learn,
the more reserves you have from which to draw upon when faced with
unfamiliar circumstances. This is why the learning experience is never
ending. How sad for those who find no joy in discovery.
Because I am an avid reader, I have developed into a person who knows
something about everything and everything about, well, some things. I now
make my living doing research. On a computer, links to more information are
somewhat of a black hole for me because I can't help but click on them. I'm
just that curious about how people, places, and events impact our world. But
it is more than that.
Every once in awhile I stumble across some new development and I get a
strange sense of foreboding. In these cases, my mind (which is like one
giant graphic organizer) starts making connections to similar feelings and
the previous catalysts for my reaction. Faced with this situation, I am
compelled to write about my thoughts in the hope that my words and my
instincts can some how change the course of events.
Such is the case when I read in this week's Education Gadfly (Fordham
Foundation) how in Philadelphia, students are going to be required to take a
year-long course in African and African-American history –written by an
"Afro centrist". Everything I read about this gave me a bad feeling in the
pit of my stomach. The link that I went to in my own head ended
science fiction. This is because there are so many children and adult books
which deal with futuristic scenarios where freedoms, (in this country so
taken for granted) are limited or non existent.
No good can come of placing more emphasis on the events and experiences of
one race over that of another in our public schools. That is the very
complaint that American minorities voiced back in the l960's when they felt
that the white male experience was over represented in our textbooks –to the
detriment of women and a variety of ethnic groups. This is the reason why
our government cannot endorse one religion over another. All groups are to
receive equal treatment under the rule of law.
Implementing a curriculum in which a theme of black oppression dominates, is
simply trading inequities. Our founders envisioned equal opportunity for all
when they put together a constitution to protect our God given right to
life, liberty, (property) and the pursuit of happiness. Some compromises
they made to accomplish this goal (3/5ths sticks out) are something that
most freedom loving people are not proud of. But this very same document
allowed our country to grow; eventually righting injustices.
No curriculum should provide a narrow interpretation of the experiences that
form our history. There should be no editorializing of events in any Social
Studies classroom in any public school. Facts should be presented, a variety
of interpretations offered, and students should form their own conclusions.
School should be a place where students learn from the past so that they can
approach the future with prior knowledge of what can go right and what can
go wrong under a variety of circumstances. They should not leave school with
a chip on their shoulders about what they owe or are owed because of
circumstances which were beyond their control. An "Afro centric" curriculum
is by its very nature damaging because it revolves around one group's
experiences at the expense of another.