African History a requirement in Philadelphia


Are they kidding? Neglected or not, this is ridiculous. Elective class, certainly. In fact, I’d up the funding for classes in the area. African-American History can be fascinating. Required? No way! And given the crowded nature of AP schedules, just what are they planning on dumping to replace with this?

“The requirement in the 185,000-student district, which is [B]about two-thirds black**, begins with September’s freshman class.”

Oooo, the nerve of those educational bastards, catering to the history and culture of a two-thirds majority.

Is European History also a mandatory subject? If it is, then this makes sense and is the right thing to do.

I’m a fan of learning for the sake of learning, so I don’t see the problem.

Nice use of anti-affirmative action logic. Since we know nothing else about the school district I don’t think it’s safe to start grumbling about dumped courses that may or may not exist. School requirements get changed all the time.

European history has always been mandatory. The world changes…

From the article, it sounds like it’s not; just American history, geography, and world history. I went to a nearly all-white school, and let’s face it: a course in African History would have affected my life as much as European History did. (I took the AP version, but I think it was required for everybody at some level.) And that may have been my favorite class in four years of high school.

Actually, the culture and history of those two-thirds of students is almost wholly from Europe (and the Middle East). American culture, politics, and history are due to Western Civilization, which comes from, essentially, Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome (with a touch of London thrown in). It does not come from Africa. The world that black Americans live has very little to do with anything that happened in Africa, save their remote ancestors being forcibly removed from it.

Until African history and culture start playing a role in our history and culture, then there is certainly no reason to mandate its teaching.

Just to clarify. You’re saying that Africa, never played a role in our history and culture? Nothing, besides the slaves of course…who were still African when they arrived. So there are no African words or phrases that have added to the American culture? There are no foods or dress? There are no music or dance?

The role of Africa has little to do with American culture and history?

As a general rule, World history is required, U.S. History and American Government are required, European history is an elective.

I don’t envy you the replies you’ll probably get for that. I’ll just point out that not all of the black people living in America are descendants of slaves. African and Carribean people do immigrate to the USA all the time. So this is not only the study of a continent people’s ancestors were taken from centuries ago.

And the African-American history part of the course affects all black people regardless of origin. Needless to say it also affects white people, but you don’t have to be descended from a slave to benefit from that either.

Yes but in actual practice at least when I was a kid, World History was Europe and everything else a footnote. So while it wasn’t “mandated”, it may as well had it been.

Compared to Europe, Africa had very, very little to do with American culture and history. Sure, there are African phrases, foods, dress, and much of our popular music is derived from Africa. However, compared to things that come from Europe – our language, our common law, our political systems, etc., what is African influenced is quite trivial. Black kids in America are much more influenced by European history and culture.

Wait - but what about the one-third? Or is this just a case of majority rules?

I figured I’d be in for it when I wrote it.

Very true, but many people immigrate here from Mexico, China, Italy, etc. Should we be mandating the study of the history of those nation’s in school?

African-American history I’ll give you. I think that’s a useful course to study in the context of American history. History of the continent of Africa, while certainly one worthy of study, is not worthy of study in place of such subjects as European history or Western Civilization. Schools should be concentrating on teaching those subjects, which are much more relevant to the lives of every American, regardless of skin color.

That should, of course, read “. . . history of those nations in school.” I really should preview more often.

Hmmmph. We had “mandatory African history” in public high school in the 80s–a year in which we covered non-Western cultures, with units on the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Nobody raised a peep. We had a four-year history requirement and we were there to became edumacated, and that’s all there was to it.

Given the composition of the class, we should have spent about a month on Africa, two on Latin America, two months on Asia, and four months on Jewish history, but hey.

I don’t see a problem with teaching African history to Westerners who happen to be black; just hope it’s not too sugarcoated or touchy-feely.

Why not mandate the study of the 500 nations that were here before anyone? I mean, other than the fact that they have no political clout?

Renob. You are cognizant that “Western Civilaiztion” includes African civilizations in any world history course that isn’t embarassingly Eurocentric, yes?

You do realize the course is “African and African-American” studies?

You are aware that Philadelphia is now home to immigrants and refugees from at LEAST six different African nations?

Yiou do know that the Middle East and the whole of North Africa region is considered one aspect of African culture within Afrocentric cultural studies?

Anaamika. What about the one-third? They’re not excluded from the mandate. That would be my only concern. Did you have another?

Mehitabel. Nothing wrong with “touchy-feely” pride in unique accomplishments, and I doubt they’ll sugarcoat anything – my concern would be whether this class will perpetuate a lot of the myths and misinfomation associated with, uh, less intellectually honest black studies programs.

I hesitate to point out that Africa is a continent and nobody’s talking about a year of study of every country in it. But beyond that I don’t have a problem with this. Am I supposed to? The students at the high school I attended now start with a mandatory two-year Global Studies class - it was only one year when I went there, so unlike me they probably won’t cover Africa, India, China and the Middle East in the space of a month. This class is required by the New York State Board of Regents, and to my knowledge it’s caused zero fatalities so far. :wink:

What exactly do you think is being taught in these classes?

I got that in seventh grade - also a New York State requirement, I think. I’m sure it’s taught in other places as well.

I think that’s true only upto a point. The purpose of teaching history is not so much to define what we are today, but more to understand where we came from (as a culture) and how it affects us today. So yes, European history plays a big part in that, but so does African history. After all this country was built on the backs of slaves from Africa. In this process they were alienated and all outward signs of their original culture were stamped out. Vestiges that remained are today most obvious in food and music, which form a big part of the cultural fabric.

Both black and white youths need to understand the history and culture of Africa to understand why America is not Europe - the understanding of the uniqueness of American perspective on culture, morals, ethics and ethnicity is not complete without understanding the culture the slaves imbued into society inspite of the best efforts of their owners that they not be able to do so.