I have spent a lot of time over the past year, re-claiming my college years as a student and curious scholar. When I was in undergrad, I spent as much time reading to feed my curiosity as I did reading for my class. Over the past year, I have re-read The Mis-Education of the Negro, The Isis Papers, and some of Na’im Akbar’s work. Through re-traveling down this path, I have discovered Asa Hilliard and Dr. Amos Wilson. At some point after graduation and after becoming a teacher, Black scholarship was replaced with Dewey, Freud, Bangura and Skinner.
I was conducting a training on Black male learning styles at the beginning of the year SY 2016-2017. One of my former college professors Dr. Hakim Rashid, was present because he was to follow my presentation by showing his film, Strange Fruit Redux. As I discussed the the learning styles, he interrupted my presentation. He wisely and graciously pointed out that the learning styles I presented was standardized against white middle-class males. I essentially quoted the works of Howard Gardner. Dr. Rashid re-charged my generator as an educator and principal who a select community of people look to as an authority on the education of Black people, specifically Black boys. I had already re-read the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, but Dr. Rashid made me promise to read Kunjufu’s Black Male Learning Styles. I told him I had, but I did not know how to reconcile the 4 primary learning styles that he presents vs Gardner’s 8. He challenged me to go back, study, and embrace. I reflected how my embracing of Cress-Welsing, Kunjufu, and Carter G. Woodson was replaced by a Euro-centric view of education. Particularly to the degree that I was educating Black people?
As I re-traveled down this road, I discovered Asa Hillard and Brother Dr. Amos Wilson. I am experts on their works by no means, but these are bad brothers. They are part of the pantheon of educating of Black children. At least I was readily able to double back, and embrace these thought leaders because the impulse was already intact. But what about the second year teacher in Detroit? What about the TFA core member in Houston or Washington, DC? How are they being prepared to work with Black children in big cities? What about White teachers who are going to work in these and similar communities. The alternative certificate programs that exists, TFA included, have co-opted and upended the training that many HBCUs used to provide in the 60s, 70s and 80s.
I will talk more about how I got off track, because I think it is necessary to flesh this out, in as much as it may help in teacher training and preparation. In the meantime I challenge you to read, and listen to this pantheon.