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VOL 3. NO. 34 Monday, September 10 - Sunday, September 16, 2001

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Teach Them Truth Not Lies
By Mark Elliott MITCHELL
I recently considered returning to college to complete a degree in education to assist young African (Black) students in reaching new heights previously unconsidered. So far I've come up with the following list of nine ideas to improve our learning and overall performance:
  1. Recruit African male instructors from two sources: students in K-12 and the military as they re-enter civilian life in their 20s and 30s.
  2. Post and enforce classroom rules for students to abide by.
  3. Solicit parents and students complaints and suggestions for review, discussion and implementation.
  4. Form mock trials for students on school, local, national and international cases and issues with students acting as lawyers, judges, jurors, bailiffs, press and spectators.
  5. Assign two instructors or teacher aides (high school graduates, elderly or disabled interested in volunteering) to as many classrooms as possible on a rotating basis. They would handle the additional responsibility of teaching anthropology, logic, rhetoric, philosophy, foreign languages, economics, politics and other subjects from elementary through senior high, subjects normally reserved for college or "gifted and talented" students.
  6. Establish a curriculum founded on truth, illuminating the past achievements of the entire African Diaspora throughout history, for example highlighting similarities between America's legal system and Egypt's, established over 4000 years ago. Inform them that Alkebu-lan (Africa), the continent where humanity originated, gave the world astronomy, mathematics, science, writing, paper, schools, medicine, politics, philosophy, economics, engineering, architecture, irrigation, art etc., and is currently battling AIDS, hunger, civil war and other troubles.
  7. Establish African History Month to reconnect to the continent from which mankind originated over 3.5 MILLION YEARS AGO.
  8. Infuse proverbs, foods, clothes, culture, rulers, inventions, thinking, philosophy, literature, cosmology, languages and worldviews from the entire African Diaspora's perspective throughout the school curriculum.
  9. Require all students introduce themselves by their full name '... by way of "mother & father"' demanding that absent mothers and fathers be recognized for the scholars present.
These and other ideas would be useful in retaining and developing young minds currently apathetic and rebellious to the steady diet of low expectations, misconceptions, distortions, and lies. Our goal should be to draw out, as education is supposed to do, the hidden, natural talents, interests, thinking and energy of all African children. We must elevate the status of our people by viewing our ideas, expressions, and flair as equal, if not superior, to current European standards. All too common, one hears people should study Shakespeare without recognizing August Wilson, Mozart but not Dizzy Gillepsie, Mark Twain but not Richard Wright, classical but not hip hop, Greece but not Ghana, Patrick Henry but not Harriet Tubman, or Rosa Parks etc. We must view ourselves as equals in this universe capable of surpassing current and "classical" benchmarks. We need the consistency and diversity equal to Edwin Moses, who won 122 consecutive 400m hurdle races over 10 years and earned a BS in physics, Masters in Business Administration in Business Management, and is currently a financial consultant managing investments for SmithBarney.

All our people possess natural gifts in both athletics and music but a host of other fields have been overshadowed by our success in these two. I often hear that our youth play basketball in great abundance because of its low cost supplies and easy access, however I never hear of any excess of white students in journalism due to the low cost of pen and paper and its easy accessibility. Not to mention the same has been said of youngsters who desire to express themselves through hip hop by emceeing but never the same of rock or the current surge of country artists. Programs like the NAACP's ACT-SO help to encourage young scientific, mathematical and artistic minds for our community's betterment. More Africans attend college than ever yet mainstream outlets focus incessantly on the areas needing improvement. We must stop and think before we accept anyone's explanation for our behavior, even from our own people who many times do not figure out nor invoke their intuition into concluding such matters.

Teachers and students need to voice their intuitions to balance the over-dependence on memorizing data as the highest indicator of "intelligence." Students should be considered 'bright,' independent of how swiftly they arrive at the solution since we all know family members, friends, and acquaintances who find the wisdom of responsible bill paying, prayer, filing taxes, and the weighing of one's words at radically different times in life. In other words like legendary composer DJ Marley Marl said, "I don't care who's first or who's last, but I know that y'all just better rock this at the drop of a dime baby!"

There should be a greater focus on developing global people, more so than a global economy that incidentally drives the society based on many practices, models, patterns, ideas, mores and norms established through their formal education. People are a product of their schooling be it through their homes, friends, schools, clubs, gangs, televisions, movies, radio, books, sports, etc. The universal and practical approach to life that is indigenous to Africans is a valid outlook that needs to be woven into the public school system. The understanding that what is done individually, reverberates eternally through all humanity should be incorporated in the formal education process. African (Black) people's innate ability to 'read' people should be viewed as a scientific analytical principle. This 'talent' would be of extreme value for psychologists in search of honest characterizations from their clients as opposed to the guessing game based on outdated models.

The resolve of African (Black) people to have survived and succeeded following history's only global persecution of every aspect of a people based solely upon their birthright, needs to be held as a first and studied intensively. The infamous 'chattel slavery' firstly and lastly legalized and practiced by Europeans and European-Americans, was based on the European idea of permanent 'classes' or 'stations' in life, a pernicious idea in feudal Europe. In Europe one born a peasant remained such in the society's eyes regardless of their individual qualities, abilities, successes, thoughts etc. This way of thinking has not died out and holds sway in many school systems, illustrated by the low expectations many teachers have of African students.

Education should free one's mind to question ideas to form their own opinions regardless of the current theories, as history demonstrates new hypotheses soon overtake long-held beliefs. Students should be encouraged to follow ideas not things, people or the things people do as we are all equally valid regardless of our achievements and failures. They should be encouraged to brave ridicule, isolation, and misunderstanding as we all have been mis-understood by one another.

Students should be required to account for their behavior, positive or negative, and be able to articulate their viewpoint of an issue verbally and written. Many students become automated beings, operating mechanically with little thought of the cause and effect of their tasks. Oftentimes students fall in the habit of memorizing facts for test questions with little recollection or understanding of the individual facts or the subject matter in general.

These changes will undoubtedly change society on a whole, nurturing tolerance of opposing views once a variety of solutions are presented along with accompanying steps of enlightenment. A lot of 'problems' in America are based on past concepts that need inspection and validation for today's world. Instead of mimicking the past shouldn't we be highlighting and improving upon the fundamental principles upon which were founded economic, religious, educational, political, ideological thought?

I am confident that to elevate our youth's performance we must, can and will recognize and validate their passions, ideas, and modes of expression as legitimate, not dysfunctional, progressive not backwards, evolving not retarded, nor inferior. I am honestly interested in building a true, curriculum for our students that includes our past and present achievements and failures for the future of the world depends on them.

To comment on this or any other article email editor@metroconnection.info.

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