Wednesday, August 28, 2013

African-Centered Curriculum from Kamali Academy

When planning my homeschool year, I always pull out my copy of  The Well-Trained Mind and Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design A Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool through High School.  I use it every year as a guide for choosing curriculum and what topics I will cover during the school year.  Then I would do my best to infuse cultural resources into this framework.  This was not a truly African-centered approach, but it was the best I could do.  I had always wished there was some kind of African-centered guide I could use.  Imagine my delight when I received an e-mail from Dr. Samori Camara, founder of Kamali Academy, announcing  Cultivating Warriors: An Afrikan-Centered Curriculum from Kamali Academy.  Finally, I had a framework that was classical in its approach and African in its worldview.

I already knew the answer to this question, but decided to ask Dr. Camara anyway. Why did you decide to write this curriculum?  He responded:

" I was inspired to write this curriculum because when I looked out on the homeschooling landscape, I didn't see anything that looked like us. I didn't see anything that spoke to our culture, our spirit, or our goals. Everything promoted a Eurocentric view of the world. Like many others, I would buy or download educational resources from others and try to tweak it to meet our needs. Simply put, I didn't want us to have to do that anymore. So I said, the time is now. Why continue to complain when you can create a valuable tool for yourself and your people. I wanted to write a curriculum that would take away the guess work and give parents the confidence to give their children an education for liberation. An education that would not only help them compete for "jobs," but ultimately compete for power in this world. It helps parents because with this curriculum they no longer have the fear that they are not covering enough. They no longer have the frustration of not knowing where to go next. It helps because it demonstrates that they don't have to know everything and be a "sage on stage" for every subject. It helps because it allows warrior parent and warrior scholar to bond on their journey in learning more about Ourstory and our personal and collective purpose. This curriculum will certainly have any student ready for the SAT.  The SAT is about critical thinking, it's about vocabulary, it's about effective writing, it's about reading comprehension, and it's about mathematical reasoning. This curriculum provides ample practice in all of those skills and more. It will not teach you how to take the test, but academically, your young warrior will be more that ready if they have years in this curriculum."
I couldn't agree more. In fact, the other day while standing in line at Staples to have the map Africa's World: An Africa-centered Global Perspective on the Planet laminated, I started to read the information at the bottom:

Putting You At The Center of The World: The essential fact about you and the world is that you are at the center of it. Wherever you happen to be.  The world is all around you and every other place on earth is defined by this fact.  The best global representation of this situation is a map that is centered on where you happen to live.  A  map of this kind is needed for all regions of the Earth so people living everywhere can appreciate their special relationship with the rest of the world.  Although the region where you live is the center of the world for you, this does not mean that far away places are of less importance.  Such places will be the center of the world or the people living there and your region with be the "far away" place for them.  ~ source

I must have read this ten times.  If you replace the word "map" with "curriculum" it makes perfect sense that your curriculum should also put you at the center.  It doesn't mean that other cultures are less important, it just means that when learning about the world, it makes perfect sense to start with you, your culture, your values, your history.  In fact, it's healthy.  Numerous studies have shown the psychological benefits of African-centered education for African descendents.  There's still a place for curriculum such as Singapore Math and Spelling Workout in our homeschool.  But now we will be guided by Ourstory.

Here's a sample:

First Grade Afrikan-centered Curriculum:

Culture/Ourstory 5 times a week.
Identify freedom fighters (read biographies), know the liberation flag and meaning, study family history, began learning Afrikan countries (capital, famous people, and art forms), learn the Cultural alphabet, memorize Afrikan proverbs (at least ten), etc.

Math 4 times a week.
Learn to count money, continue addition and subtraction (2 to 3 digits), learn multiplication tables, tell time, measurements, understand the differences between shapes.

Reading 4 times a week
Continue Hooked on Phonics or Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (phonics are foundational... build upon that).  Read Afrikan stories to your child (promoting values and culture). Fill their imaginations with those stories. Remember, we are an oral culture first. At this time of life, what you read to your children is much more important, because it is much more formative, than what they read to themselves. Allow them to read books on their level.

No text. Visit the zoo, natural history museums, nature walks, planting small plants, beans, sunflowers, etc. Began to study the human body. Use the world as your classroom. If you see a bug, it's research time.

Writing 2 times a week
Learn to write their name, letters, and numbers. Copy and memorize Afrikan proverbs or black history facts. Begin writing letters to family members.

Art 2 times a week
Use Art to enhance any subject. Infuse it throughout the learning experience through songs, rhythms, etc. Provide ample time for your child to use their Kuumba. Illustrate the story or proverb you've already covered. Create a story about a piece of art. Study various forms of Afrikan art, including its meaning and history.

Music 1 or 2 times a week
Learn to play an instrument and/or Afrikan dance. Learn great Afrikan songs, even in other languages. (Google: "We are Africans," "Walk Like an African," South African Freedom Songs, and lots more.)

Add your own ideas.


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