On Sunday, April 27, twelve high school students in the Black Literary Awareness for Cultural Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) homeschooling network will celebrate their academic achievements as graduates of the organization's first Afrocentric history class, Introduction to Ancient African History. The end of year celebration will culminate in a student-led panel discussion, "Across Many Waters: Building Bridges to Africa". Their extraordinary accomplishments unwittingly transcend the academic arena on many levels.
Although they are from diverse family, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds, the Ancient Africa class share three common factors: All are teenagers striving to find their place in a complex, rapidly-changing world; all are children of the African Diaspora; and all represent a sub-culture of their communities as homeschoolers. Their class may very well be the first of its kind in Maryland homeschooling circles in that it paired inner-city lifeschoolers steeped in African history and culture with their suburban peers who, conversely, had tenuous or no connections to their African heritage. The results were impressive.
In just a relatively short time, the students' participation in academically-challenging, integrated, holistic activities, designed to reconnect them to Africa, to their Black history and culture, and to each other, enabled them to discover their common heritage, cultural connections, and shared values. In the process, they excelled to exceptionally high academic standards, gained strong self-identity and racial pride, and found a means to form lasting, cooperative friendships, despite their religious and other differences.
The Ancient Africa history class was an experiment in African Centered Education (ACE), developed and taught solely by three suburban African American parent educators, whose previous training consisted primarily in traditional, western-oriented Classical Educational theory. Drawing on both the Afrocentric and Classical learning models, B.L.A.C.K. tutors were able to immerse the students in engaging, multi-sensory, experiential, learning activities, which placed their African heritage and culture at the center of the learning process and presented a more balanced world view of African and African American contributions to world history.
B.L.A.C.K. tutors attribute the high academic, social, and personal success of their first Afrocentric homeschooling class to their unique set of lesson plans, which they developed specifically for the Ancient Africa class, to infuse and bring balance to the Afrocentric and Classical models. The closest approximation to the B.L.A.C.K. learning module is what the brilliant Senegalese historian and scientist, Dr. Cheik Diop, called the "Two Cradle Theory", one cradle being the Southern (African) cradle and the other being the Northern (European) cradle.
The combination of all of the above, coupled with a philosophical educational framework based on four theoretical perspectives, has produced B.L.A.C.K. curricula which work for all students. The theoretical perspectives include: 1) cultural relevance; 2) Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP); 3) Medew Nefer (the ancestral inter-generational transmission of the knowledge and memory that defines a people through "good speech" (lectures) and "good listening" (note taking), leading to "wisdom" or application of knowledge (sound living); and 4) the tradition of the African Circle of discourse, which B.L.A.C.K. tutors describe as "Kemetic Circles." (Rivers 2004; Curruthers 1999)
B.L.A.C.K. Co-founder, Kyna Clemons, to broaden the B.L.A.C.K. vision in support of the African Centered Educational Model, which she no longer views as optional, but essential to the survival of Afrikan people, their culture, and traditions. (the “k” in Afrikan representing people of the African Diaspora collectively across the globe, rather than only on the continent).
medew netcher (theology), medew nefer grammar (Logic), maat (governance),
hepu nefer (ethics) soneb (health), hesebu (mathematics), sesh (writing) and genut (history)." (Curruthers 1999)
With minimal study, a pure heart, and an open mind, it should be crystal clear to all "educators", with whom we have entrusted the impressionable minds of our precious children, that ACE is a logical answer to the current, dismal plight of underachievement in Black students and to the economic and social stagnation persistent in the global Black Community. The ultimate goal of ACE is not to produce another generation of Black students who gauge their success solely by how closely they approximate the western, capitalistic, "good way" of life; Rather, it is to raise up a generation of God-fearing, culturally-astute, young people who can walk in "good speech" (i.e. Medu Nefer/"wisdom") with self-determination and a demonstrated ability to use their God-given gifts, talents, and knowledge to effectuate profound and lasting change in the Black community.
|The Ancient Africa class enjoys a panoramic view of the Nation's Capital on one of their monthly Metro Journeys, developed by veteran B.L.A.C.K. tutor, Anna Fogg. The Metro Journey undoubtedly is a favorite class activity of B.L.A.C.K. students|
As B.L.A.C.K students prepare to celebrate their academic achievements the end of this month, they have every reason to boast! In the words of B.L.A.C.K. tutor, Tammy Richards, "From the very beginning, we could only imagine a small part of what has now transformed into something unique, tangible, and undeniable inspiring." Imagine our pride, as Mwalimi, when one of the students shared the following story: "Several of us girls from the Ancient Africa class were fellow-shipping and enjoying a meal together on the roof top of our classmate's luxurious apartment complex. After several moments of stimulating, thought-provoking discourse with one another on a range of topics, an older British man could not resist the urge to interrupt us to offer praise for our camaraderie, maturity, and "good speech". He went on to express his sentiments of how "amazing" us girls are." Obviously, other people see "good speech" in our B.L.A.C.K. students. Can you? Will you?