Culture Centered Education-A White Paper In Progress

The Importance of Culture Centered and

African Centered Education

By: Bree E. Davis, Psy.D. ~~September 2012

What does culture centered education means to me?  In my opinion, it means empowerment and respect.  It’s about giving people a voice by honoring all aspects of them and by celebrating their diversity.  When you honor a person’s unique cultural beliefs you provide an opportunity for that person to feel like they have a place, a place not only in the classroom but in life, in society, in the world.  Culture is what a person defines it for themselves and contrary to popular belief; everyone has a “culture.”  It is important to keep in mind that the student is the key to bringing these types of curriculums alive, because without the sharing of personal stories, experiences and histories, empowerment and affirmation can only take place on a superficial level. 

Much of the research that has been done about cultural centered education and more specifically African-centered Education focuses on pedagogy and models designed for children in primary and secondary schools, but I believe that any time learning is to take place a culture centered pedagogy needs to be used.

Using my premise that everyone has a culture, I advocate for always using a culture centered education model and I think it’s even more important to use an African-centered pedagogy if working with people of the African diaspora, even if it’s not a predominately African American class.   The benefits of using a specific culture centered model such as an African-centered education model and pedagogy is that it can be used with anyone.   African-centered pedagogy (and I would argue any culture centered education models) are “an inclusionary multicultural educational process …that teaches all people are equal (NBEA).”

The reason why Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and graduate school programs like Pacific Oaks’ Latina/o Family Studies (LFS) and African American Family Studies (AAFS) are still so successful is specifically because they are culture-centered.   Since these models are empowering to all, any student can benefit.  In the AAFS program, the entire curriculum with the knowledge that  “African Centered Education is an educational experience, that utilizes African and African American cultural and intellectual traditions and processes in guiding the teaching and learning experience.   This philosophy allows for the empowerment and personal growth of students from all ethnicities, races, creeds, colors and faiths.

Having grown up in diverse and multi-cultural communities in California while attending primary and secondary schools where I was the “minority,” I am clear about why I was disinterested in the learning process and not excited about participating in the class room.  I wasn’t representing in the literature, discussions, or any information that was taught.  I had no voice.  Now that I am a professor with the opportunity to provide a culture centered education to my students pursuing higher education, it is my goal that all of my students find their voice, even if for the first time at 60+ years old.

References

National Black Education Agenda. African-Centered Education: Most Often Asked Questions About African Centered Education.  Retrieved from http://blackeducationnow.org/id18.html

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