|Khepera Charter School is a K-8 African-Centered Academy devoted to the Rebirth of Academic and Cultural Excellence. It is a tuition-free Philadelphia public charter school.|
"RENEWING OUR COMMITMENT TO ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL EXCELLENCE"
DEFINING AFRIKAN-CENTERED EDUCATION AND INFUSING CULTURE IN TEACHING AND LEARNING
Taken from Afrikan-Centered Sbayt: Education for Liberation by Mukasa Afrika
Defining Afrikan-Centered education is an ongoing process. In fact, each generation must astutely observe its challenges and define its solutions while at the same time looking back to learn the lessons of the past. We have laid out ten core areas in defining Afrikan-Centered education. These core areas cover some of the major concerns and questions by teachers, students, and parents as they seek clarity on culturally relevant education for people of Afrikan descent. The Ten Fundamentals of Afrikan-Centered Education.
1. Afrikan-Centered education is pedagogical and places Afrikan interest at the center of learning. What are the challenges facing our families, communities, nations, and race as a whole? What are the current and historic dynamics of those challenges? What trends do these challenges seem to take? How can we avert those challenges? Afrikan focused education seeks to grapple with these challenges through instruction and even in student projects. It is through seizing these challenges in education that we create and train the leaders of tomorrow. Education that is relevant to people of Afrikan descent places Afrikan interest in high priority.
2. Afrikan-Centered education is holistic, eclectic, and integrates the classrooms’ subjects to enhance the instructional process. Lessons are not always taught in isolation from one another. For this to be possible, colleague and collaborative teacher planning is critical. This type of cross-curricular learning links history and literature through primary Afrikan historical texts and historiography. Equally, the same type of cross-curricular examination is made through the study of current/global issues and the social/political developments of those issues. Primary source materials are highly preferred in the instructional process. Science and mathematics provide cross-curricular examination through definitions of related terms and concepts. Science brings math more into the real world with study of phenomenon and life; and math based learning provides science with a more in-depth numerical analysis and understanding. Additionally, where possible at times, all of the subjects are integrated to heighten instruction.
3. Afrikan-Centered education is contextual and focal, that is there is an emphasis on primary sources in general and especially Afrikan primary sources. How you teach is just as significant as what you teach and vice versa. While context is essential, what is taught in Afrikan-Centered education is less important than how it is taught. Like all cultures and races, people of Afrikan descent have a body of FUNDAMENTAL texts, texts which have shaped the worldview of Afrikan people. In the competent educational process, students are exposed to fundamental Afrikan texts. There is a canon of Afrikan-Centered PRIMARY content, and that canon is essential to competent instruction. Nonetheless, the focus of content is also essential whether it is within the canon of culturally relevant education or within the canon of universal or mainstream education. The need to use Afrikan based primary sources cannot be overemphasized. A primary source is a text or record of documenting evidence for the era, person, or moment under study. Secondary sources, often less valuable, are from people who were not eyewitnesses of the era or person under study. In Afrikan-Centered education, instructors must always strive to place emphasis on primary sources.
4. Afrikan-Centered education is not limited to space and time but is global and intergenerational. Afrikan-Centered education is not only Afrikan-American focused, and neither is it only the issues of our people from slavery to the present. Afrikan-Centered education is Afrikana and Pan-Afrikan - that is it teaches about all things Afrikan and related to people of Afrikan descent throughout time and throughout the world. For a global people, the world is the classroom. The pedagogy is also intergenerational, that is the learning process may not only come from the slavery era or the present but from the origins of humanity through to other eras that may be approached in instruction.
5. Afrikan-Centered education has a pre-classical, classical, and ancient approach. Broadly defined, the pre-classical deals with instruction from the origin of humanity through to Nile Valley civilization. The classical approach to Afrikan-Centered education is founded in the land of ancient Egypt, widely known in the Afrikan intellectual movement as Kemet, widely known to the inhabitants of the ancient nation as Tawi or the Two Land. Afrikan civilization in art, science, literature, architecture, moral values, and agriculture reached a zenith in ancient Egypt that went without unparallel for thousands of years. All cultures have a classical era from which instruction is focused; it is Greece and Rome for Europeans, the Olmecs and Aztecs for Natives of the Americas, the ancient and great dynasties for China, etc., etc. For Afrikan people, ancient Egypt is the mother cradle of our classical approach. Yet still, there is also the ancient approach which includes ancient Egypt and its contemporary civilizations.
6. Afrikan-Centered education has a traditional approach in education which is the era and lifestyle encompassing the fall of Nile Valley civilization to the rise of slavery. Civilizations rose and fell throughout the Afrikan continent during this period. Although there are many traditional communities still in existence, they had their beginning in the traditional era. These civilizations were primarily agricultural and trading based societies.
7. Afrikan-Centered education has a modern approach in education which encompasses the period from slavery to the present. This period witnessed the rise of the industrial revolution, modern technology, and the computer age. The modern approach in education includes the global age of advanced technology and communication.
8. Afrikan-Centered education is based on moral and cultural values. Intellect and intellectual production are fundamental to the process of education. In Afrikan-Centered education character building through the moral and cultural values are just as fundamental. Ma'at was the guiding principle of morality in ancient Egypt. Since the 1970s, Afrikan-Centered schools throughout the country have adopted Ma'at as a cornerstone of their moral and cultural values. The Nguzo Saba or Seven Principles of Kwanzaa are part of the cultural values of Afriikan-Centered schools. The Nguzo Saba were originally espoused in 1966 by the US organization and Maulana Karenga. Since the 1990s, Jacob Carruthers has introduced the concept of Mdw Nfr or Good Speech as a moral value.
9. Afrikan-Centered education has a cultural foundation that we should always express. Culture, among other things, is made up of traditions, rites, rituals, cultural art, celebration, ceremony, dance, and music forms. Culture is a group’s expression, style, and behavior. We use our culture to instill a sense of belonging and pride into our people, our children, and future generations. Culture gives life, light, and creativity to education. Afrikan culture is all the more significant to people of Afrikan descent due to the historical separation from slavery. Culture is not left out of the educational process that holistically uplifts the student.
10. Afrikan-Centered education is based on teaching relevancy and accuracy. It is not racist. One of the myths about Afrikan-Centered education, other forms of culturally relevant education in general, is that it is racist. Racism is based on hatred. Afrikan-Centered education is based on teaching to the specific interest, reality, and worldview of Afrikan people while at the same time correcting historical myths. Teaching relevancy means that instruction is geared towards teaching students about the world in a practical and social applicable sense. As an example of relevancy, a math lesson might teach about entrepreneurship or community economic empowerment. A science lesson may cover a unit on the human body and nutrition. History and literature would emphasize not only the beauty of historical writing or remembering the past, but the need of social change that may be learned from the lesson. Lastly, Afrikan-Centered education is not driven by propaganda, but rater teaches accuracy about Afrikan people, past and present.