Constructing an Authentic Self: The challenges and promise of African-centered pedagogy

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Notwithstanding its many successes, African-centred pedagogy (ACP) has been vulnerable to criticism, implicit and explicit, from several quarters. For example, ACP can be justly criticized for not recognizing the general diversity of blacks in America, a “nation” of more than 30 million spread across a tremendous variety of lifeways, locations, and historical circumstances. It also has been accused of abandoning the democratic purposes of the civil rights movement and repudiating its real successes. In addition to the ambiguities of Black identity, many difficulties also attend the conceptualization and implementation of ACP. To examine the various challenges that confront ACP, our essay will be framed by the following three questions: (1) Does the historical context in which many black children live justify the existence of African-centered schools? (2) Does ACP prepare black children to participate in a democratic society? (3) Does the construction of an essentialist racial identity in ACP compromise its mission and success? In response to the first question, we will briefly review the historical conditions and circumstances of American schooling for blacks before considering both the motivations for establishing African-centered schools and the aims of ACP. Efforts to forge a parallel society and to foster Black consciousness and pride, including the establishment of separatist schools, are not new. We will limit our historical overview to the years following the 1954 Brown decision and leave to others the examination of historically unique examples of separate Black schooling that predate the rise of African-centered schools in their present incarnation. We conclude that both historical and contemporary realities do in fact justify some forms of voluntary separated schooling such as African-centered schools.
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First archival date: 2022-09-18
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