Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Thoroughly Amused... how black/African/Afro history gets "discovered" every few years "as a way to engage black students who feel detached from mainstream curriculum."

They have learned how long it would take a runaway slave to walk to freedom from deep in the south.

A year.

"Now think how much longer it would take if you had children with you," prods the teacher. "Or if you lost your shoes wading through the river to throw bloodhounds off your scent."

Not a paper rustles; even the girl eating lunch at the back is fixed on the front.

In this unusual new "sold-out" class at a Scarborough high school, students are learning a new kind of history: African history.

As the Toronto District School Board debates trying an "African-centred" alternative grade school next year to battle the high black dropout rate, this course – and a dozen like it sprinkled through Toronto's 150 public high schools – provide a glimpse of how such a school might work.

"This is my history, miss. The first university in the world was in Timbuktu – in Africa!" gushes Karar Jafar, 18, who moved to Canada five years ago from Libya.
(Quote Courtesy: HNN Roundup; Full Article: The Toronto Star)

And I completely approve. It kept my butt in my seat in high school AND college and now I'm trying to make a living with it. Whodathunk?

But now we are back to the conflict that we saw with the AP African American history issue. Does an "African-centered" curriculum also translate into hiring more African American (or African, Afro-Caribbean, etc.) scholars and teachers to create curriculum, teach the classes, write the books that will be read, craft exercises, build the museums the kids will visit, design the websites they can catch my drift? Does it even translate into hiring competent, enthusiastic and interested teachers of ANY color who will give the history its due attention?

Although I will take an L on it if the coursework translates into those young people making those demands for themselves.

(*sigh and relevant sidenote: Saw a NAACP preview of the Great Debaters. Interesting night, interesting movie. A blog post is in the queue....)

No comments: