By: Hasani Ali
DETROIT, MICH. – “If we embrace the victim mentality, then we have given up our authority.”
That inspiring message left the teachers and administrators in silence as award-winning author and educator Chike Akua gave his African-Centered Education (ACE) presentation Saturday morning at Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy.
Principal Jeffery Robinson brought in Akua for professional development for his administrators after he was requested from some of his staff.
“I heard about Akua three years ago when my staff heard him speak in Chicago,” he said. “They wanted him here and we had to make that happen.”
As the Academy is known for having an ACE curriculum, Akua made sure that the teachers, both of Melanoid and non-Melanoid decent, understood what exactly ACE is and how to imply it to their students.
Akua simplified the eight essential elements of ACE:
- Places Africa, African people and African points of view at the center of all things studied.
- Helps students critically examine how the subject or object of study is related to the image and interest of Africa and African people.
- Taps into the spirit of the children.
- Requires a sharp orientation towards social justice.
- Requires methods that are unique and indigenous to the nature and needs of African children.
- Asks a simple question of all things: Is it good for African people?”
- Requires a consciousness of victory.
- Prepares children for sovereignty.
When these elements are all used together, teachers and administrators will use the best of African culture to examine/analyze information, meet needs and solve problems in the African community.
“Usually when our children hear about Africa, they don’t hear about the best of Africa, but the worst,” Akua said.
Amari Akua, Chike’s 12-year-old son, was in attendance at the Academy while he sat and took notes of his father’s teachings. Amari enjoys the fact that his father is an educator and how it impacts not only his life, but the lives of people across the world.
“I feel so inspired to make change whenever I hear my father speaks,” he said. “The family could be relaxing in the house and my dad would begin teaching to us. Though I may not want to hear it at the time, I realize that my father has a gift and I’m thankful for his gift.”
Amari would like to follow his father in the teaching profession at some point of his career, but he would like to explore video game programming or the filming industry.
Akua harped to the teachers that the students must have a sense ancestral history and proceeded to showed the history of African people with pictures from his trips to Kemet (Egypt.)
As the presentation continued, he tied in African history and how the legacy was stolen to help build America. With side-by-side comparisons of American and African monuments, it was clear to the teachers where America got their ideas for their memorials.
“The Ramesu statue is the origin of the Lincoln Memorial,” Akua said with his presentation. “And there’s plenty more that were copied.”
Baba (David) Khari has been a teacher at the school since its second year in operation during the 90’s and teaches at the middle school level.
He assures that since he’s been teaching in all-male classrooms, he can definitely see a difference.
“The students, both boys and girls, function better,” Khari said. “The students are worried about the opinions of the opposite sex and that helps bring the best out of our students.”
Detroit originally had three separate all-boy schools: Paul Robeson, Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey Academy.
“Our former principal Dr. Clifford Dean Watson made sure we had African resources along with the Detroit curriculum,” Khari said. “Our schools were basically operating with two curriculums.”
The plan was to add three additional all -girl schools, but the plan was turned down during the planning stage.
Now that Detroit has downsized with ACE schools, Robinson is looking to empower his staff to ensure the best education for his students.
“We use to make the teachers take African-cultured training classes before they taught here, but due to the financial emergency and other things happening in Detroit we no longer had that authority to enforce that training,” he said. “It’s time for innovation and we’re making that step.”
For further information and products by Chike Akua, visit his website, www.myteachertransformation.com.
(EDITOR’S NOTE) The following video provides a brief background on Mr. Akua’s career as an educator.