Afrocentric Thought in Adult Education

Afrocentric Thought in Adult Education

Parris J. Baker
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1306-4.ch007
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The failure of the American education system to teach African American students has been well chronicled. This chapter draws attention to the history of Eurocentric pedagogy and its ineffectiveness to educate African American students. The principles of Afrocentricity are presented as a plausible way to counter ineffective, hegemonic, and ethnocentric curriculum planning for all students, with particular emphasis on students of color. Differentiated instruction offers adult educators a way to vary instruction and integrate an Afrocentric paradigm and content into student-centered curricula. This chapter concludes with two Afrocentric application activities.
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The social, educational, economic, and health status for African Americans have been historically poor. The explanations for the poor outcomes are varied. However, structural and institutional inequality, discrimination and racism remain constant explanatory variables. In 1968 the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, referred to as the Kerner Commission Report of 1968 offered this summary race of relations in America:

Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white-separate and unequal. Reaction to last summer's disorders has quickened the movement and deepened the division. Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American. This deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement apart can be reversed. Choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to press for a national resolution. To pursue our present course will involve the continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values. The alternative is not blind repression or capitulation to lawlessness.

The Kerner Commission’s presented a well-defined and cautiously optimistic summary. All Americans must recognize racial relations throughout the nation must change. Moreover, the nation must alter its perception of a binary nation; one black and one white; separate and unequal. Critical Race Theorists posited that to create meaningful change in education and legal structures educators and judicial representatives must move beyond the black-white binary perception and multicultural education methodologies (Crenshaw, 1988; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; West, 1999). To ignore or reject this urgent message is to continue in the trajectory of national destruction vis-à-vis the issues of race and racism in America.

In America race has become, metaphorically and politically, the elephant (or donkey) in the room. Most Americans readily respond to matters of race with muted observation or spurious rationalizations. Polarized by partisan politics, the aggrieved are acutely aware of the aggressive attempts to mute or muffle necessary local and national race-related discussions by the dominant classes (DiAngelo, 2018; West, 1993). These polarized divisions are predictably contentious and conflicted; further complicated by futile attempts to conflate important factors. However, no matter how it’s reported, race remains America’s cultural accelerant that threats to incinerate the nation.

Now, slightly more than 50 years later, as the United States steams forward, accelerating with hypersonic speed into the first quarter of the twenty-first century, it appears our nation remains weighted by the friction of race. The status of African Americans has improved in some areas and remain stagnate or have worsened in others. According to the Economic Policy Review (2018), African Americans still have worse outcomes than their white counterparts in health, home ownership, household income, family wealth, infant mortality and incarceration. Nevertheless, African Americans are graduating from high school and attending college at significantly higher rates.

However, African American students remain less likely to attend and graduate from college compared to their white cohorts. In 1968 college graduation rates improved for African Americans 25-29 years; from 9.1 percent to 22.8 percent. Comparatively, college graduation rates increased from 16.2 percent to 42.1 percent for White students, 25-29 years (Economic Policy Review, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Differentiated Instruction: instruction allows teachers to tailor instruction and curriculum design to maximize student potential and enhance their learning experience.

Racism: the denial or prohibition of access to social and economic opportunities, equal rights, and justice based on the attribute of race.

White Supremacy: belief, attitudes and behaviors that demonstrate white people are superior to all of racial groups.

Afrocentricity: a frame of reference where the observer can view historic events and experiences from the perspective of the African person.

Whiteness: the social construction of racial superiority of white people in order to justify discrimination and dominance of non-whites.

White Fragility: the avoidance or refusal by white people to engage in discomforting and complicated discussions about race and racism.

Privilege: Unearned advantage(s), life chances, or benefit(s) based on group membership.

Democracy: a form of government in which the people freely govern themselves; where the executive branch and law-making power is given to persons chosen by the population, the free people.

Banking Concept of Education: this model of education finds the teacher as depositor and students depositories. Students are reduced to passive receptacles, which receive, retain, and regurgitate information deposited by the teacher.

Race Exhaustion: the perception that the race issue has been eradicated; tougher civil rights laws are unnecessary and futile, continued discussion about race is unfair to innocent whites and provides unfair advantages to blacks, and inequalities are the results of nonracial factors.

Adult Learner: a person, 25 years and older, who uses personal experiences and their need to know to guide learning.

Nihilism: the sense of hopelessness, insignificance, and despair.

Empowerment: the process of discovering individual, collective, and political power to create change.

Pedagogy: the art and science of teaching children.

Andragogy: the art and science of teaching adults.

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