For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others ~ Nelson Mandela
After the dust of the Covid-19 storm blows over what will the future of Black Education concerning our youth look like? How will African American youth learn? What will change as a result of virtual education for an entire country? What will African American boys and girls need to learn effectively? Personally, for me to learn effectively” I need the opportunity to actively apply the knowledge & information that is being taught; in a real-world situation with experiential learning, while allowing myself the freedom to remain open to new ideas. Although, I didn’t always understand the importance of learning effectively I have concluded from my educational journey that the process of learning is a unique concept that carries the potential to fit every learner in a multitude of ways. No one curriculum standard or lesson plan can fit into the mind of collective thinker. Some children were born to operate in group settings. This doesn’t negate the importance of independent thinking.
Having been reared in big family I too found it hard to see learning as an isolated (AP/honors vs the other not so smart kids) kind of world. It just didn’t register for me in that manner. I am reminded about how many different schools I attended in elementary and how that shaped my definition of learning effectively. Not every child in America will attend 4 elementary and 2 different middle schools throughout their compulsory education. High-School was OK as it was just one school, but I took on too many non-essential activities that ruined my chances at a college scholarship. I ran track, played football & basketball and held down a part-time job on the weekends throughout high school. When and where did I have the time to learn effectively?
I cut out the most important meal in my diet “An opportunity to understand what it truly means to become an effective learner and critical thinker. I didn’t deliberately push away learning I just couldn’t find the basis for a deeper inquiry into my studies; due to life coming at me so early, often and fast. I was thrust into a world that didn’t allow for reflection and deep thinking. It’s what David Elkind speaks of concerning the “Hurried Child”, a context for being forced to achieve more and earlier than any generation. My Parents divorce when I was 10 years old forced my rights of passage to come way too early which produced a lot of fear & phobias. The 70’s with Nixon, Carter and little Ford had it’s challenges but the Reaganomics of 80’s ushered in a whole new agenda. Again, I am just trying to paint a picture of my previous learning experiences.
So, when I mention that learning outside of the group context became an isolated breakdown of culture and the collective; I am really trying to explain that I needed a host of experiences in order to learn effectively. I needed trials & tribulations, travel, fear of the unknown (enrolling in different schools every year), group thinking, family etc. The assertion that every child needs only one structural basis for learning is a very inaccurate assessment. Every child may not do well in these different structural challenges. Like a group home, the American education system need a private residence model of educational care for those who struggle with the complexities of a system that doesn’t cater to their learning styles. Educational care in this instance doesn’t focus exclusively on learning difficulties and or behavior. You get the latter out of running children through oppressive systems hoping they turn out like moral robots for corporate heathens.
Environments that support the cultivation & passion for learning is what the interdependence of black education is all about. It’s more a philosophy than a system, it’s tenants allow for the disentangle of bureaucratic systems that knowingly oppress and profit off the mis-education the minority. Education is supposed to “draw out” not destroy the motivation for learning. Prophetic wisdom in the age of liberation sounds the alarm at educational systems that refuse to acknowledge prayer a moral tradition incorporates community as the foundation that can benefit all. As an educationist, writer, educator & mentor I advocate for the compulsory education of black youth that gives them a moral voice and sense of self. We can’t overlook self-determination in the age of liberation.
Overall, there must be a fresh lens for liberated youth to write and construct their history in a multitude of ways that lies at the center of community. Boykins Sanders explains that “True liberation is communal & corporate”. The future will see revolutionaries & philanthropic liberators coming out of the black community to reinvest back into the systems of education that they first received their light. Nelson Mandela embodies this revolutionary & philanthropic stance as a means for dismantling oppressed systems. His story will forever serve as the backdrop for explaining the interdependence of back education.