Posted February 11, 2008

Temple program honored by National Council for Black Studies

A seminar designed to help high school students get the most from their academic experience was recognized by the premier professional organization in African American Studies as a blueprint for taking the curriculum to the community.

As Philadelphia’s only Afrocentric charter high school, the Imhotep Institute Charter School in Germantown needs to be on top of the latest information to fulfill its goal of providing the best education possible.

When Molefi Kete Asante, a professor in Temple’s Department of African American Studies, brought his colleagues professors Patricia Reid Merritt and Ama Mazama to the school, which is named for the African architect who built the first pyramid and was the world’s first doctor, the group provided a primer of the latest research in African and African-American studies, and gave the teachers new ways to help the students connect with the information.

“I felt that it would be a good idea to try our method in an urban school,” Asante said. “I approached Christine Wiggins [the school’s chief academic officer] and she was receptive to it.”

He also provided the National Council for Black Studies with a model for excellence in community outreach and civic engagement, which it honored with a grant and special recognition recently.

The program, “Rescuing Our Youth with Factual Information: Toward Pragmatic Solutions,” was commended by the National Council of Black Studies for its adherence to the organization’s mission, said Charles Jones, NCBS president and professor at Georgia State University.

“These model programs are important in helping the organization to fulfill its primary mission: achieving academic excellence and social responsibility,” Jones said.

Among the information that the teachers were given during the mini-conference was that the African Diaspora has expanded, and so has the study of it, Asante said. In order to teach the African studies curriculum correctly, one has to know all of the information, he said.

“We wanted the teachers to be aware of the numerous dimensions of diasporic culture,” he said. “The culture is varied, now. It’s not just about African Americans; it extends to Nicaragua and Mexico and so forth.”

As part of the recognition, “Rescuing Our Youth with Factual Information: Toward Pragmatic Solutions” received a grant of about $2,500 from the NCBS to continue the program.