Africentric Schools – A brilliant idea?

I heard whispers of this when I was leaving my Public School teaching job in Toronto 4 years ago. But I never thought it would become a reality. Low and behold it did!

What am I going on about? Well, Canada’s first “Africentric” school, rubber stamped and approved (but with a few trustees who resigned and screamed bloody murder) by my former employer – TDSB (Toronto District School Board). Read about it here. Even better, read some of the comments here….they really give the debate some “flavor”. HERE’s a video interview with the school principal. HERE is a nice public debate video which provokes a lot of thought….

I’m wondering what other teachers think? I’m a pretty open minded guy and with something like this, I’ll let the jury sit and brew for awhile before forming my own solid opinion. However, I sniff something stinky ……

I worked a number of years downtown Toronto. Just off of Regent Park, St. Jamestown. Highest concentration of poor, urban immigrants in Canada. Our school in 2005 even winning a special award for being the most multicultural school in the world – 92 mother tongues (and with an enrollment of only about 600 students!). So I do think I have some experience from which to comment on this.

Why are we going backwards? Segregation? Isn’t the aim pluralism and acceptance of all students, irregardless of their skin color? Isn’t the goal to honor students along the lines of “primus inter pares” / “first among equals”. Each student’s culture being valued and NOT creating this kind of hyper ethnocultural approach that harkens back to aryanism. Sure I’m exaggerating but it is with a point.

The point is – if you want to stop the drop out rate of black youth – you don’t do it by “falsely” giving them pride in their racial heritage AT SCHOOL. This should be done at home (and Bill Cosby hits this right on the head in his book and new campaign – read about it). And it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the wider community and through segregation.

Culture IS important, very important. However, it can’t be inculcated. That’s education with a hammer. I’m against but let’s see…. Whatchathink? And also, let’s remember this speech by Martin Luther King Jr. Let’s remember it – it says it all……. It isn’t about making these kids feel important – it’s about THIS.

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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