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Monday, April 15, 2013

The Lions are Leaving Us

Chinua Achebe. Nelson Mandela. Men of courage. Men of integrity. Men who believed, or came to believe, in brains over brawn.
Chinua Achebe
Novelist and intellectual giant Chinua Achebe passed away March 22, 2013. He was not afraid to speak truth to power. He was not afraid to heap scorn on the corrupt politicians of his home country, Nigeria. He was not afraid to chide, and challenge, younger generations for not working hard enough to effect change in Nigeria. His five works of fiction are: Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People, and Anthills of the Savannah. Lists of speeches and other writings can be found here.

Nelson Mandela is ailing. Nelson Mandela as a man and as an historical figure has no equal. Born in  South Africa, he has spent his life working to rid that country of the system of apartheid, a system designed to keep Blacks and Coloureds, and anyone else The Nationalist Party deemed a threat, out of mainstream life. A system designed to give Whites maximum success and access to the bounty of that beautiful country.
Nelson Mandela
A system that ultimately crippled the hearts and souls of all the people who lived within its virtual and actual prisons. A system that finally imploded and the people were led out of the quagmire with the steady hand of Nelson Mandela. Read Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom.
Several other books worth reading are: A History of South Africa by Leonard Thompson; Frontiers: The Epic of South Africa's Creation and the Tragedy of the Xhosa People by Noel Mostert; Reporting South Africa by Rich Mkhondo; Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga; An Act of Terror by Andre Brink.
Zapiro via AFRICartoons
These titles are all linked to Amazon via BlackPast.org                                                  




Monday, April 1, 2013

Information Dissemination

Nothing about the topic of education is simple, neutral, static in time. Administrators, class size, curricula, politics, private, public, taxes, teachers, technology, testing, textbooks, unions. Schools and the educating of our youth are microcosms of all the positives and negatives found in the larger society. Local school boards and state legislatures determine funding, hiring policies, choice of textbooks, standards, and the philosophical underpinnings for their local schools. Quality and strength varies school to school, district to district, state to state. And there is no doubt that money matters, socioeconomic conditions matter, race matters. There has been no end of agonizing, ameliorating, exacerbating, exaggerating, in discussing the strengths and weaknesses of education in America.

BlackPast.org is doing its part to provide educators with quality tools to excite and encourage students to use critical thinking skills when learning about African American history within the context of the larger American History curriculum. A panel of educators has developed learning modules for different age groups, compiled reference material, and have given teachers and other interested parties the opportunity to get in touch with them for feedback. Of course, the whole site of BlackPast.org is available to the curious and interested reader. BlackPast.org's education specialists creation of a module with learning goals, assessments, and suggestions is most useful to teachers who may have limited time and resources to develop materials in an area where they, too, may not have first hand knowledge and training. Having interesting reading material, access to a collection of photographs, film vault, and an exhaustive bibliography can go a long way to engaging young, inquisitive minds. BlackPast.org is a dynamic, interactive resource and welcomes input and suggestions.