Project Title

What About Africa?: an Analysis of What School Curriculum Teaches U.S. Students About Africa

Presenters

Academic department under which the project should be listed

BCOE - Elementary & Early Childhood Education

Faculty Sponsor Name

An Sohyun

There is no need to get this project approved by KSU's IRB because it doesn't deal with human subjects.

Abstract (300 words maximum)

Africa has long been the continent against which Europeans have racially defined themselves. Constructing a white and Western identity in opposition to Black Africans, so that they are believed to be uncivilized barbarians incapable of rational thought, produced Eurocentric ideologies necessary to exploit African people and resources, expand European empires, and subjugate, enslave, and massacre Africans and their descendants during the era of colonial expansion. These ideologies continue to shape conceptions of Africans internationally, as they linger in popular political and media discourse within individual nations. But where are these discourses learned? Educational and cultural scholars argue that school texts play a central role in shaping how people view their nation’s history, racial groups, and racial power hierarchies. School texts are written from a Eurocentric perspective often emphasize Western superiority and perpetuate colonialist ideologies and histories by excluding the voices, experiences, cultures, and histories of dominated groups both nationally and internationally. Therefore, there is a critical need to examine and transform school texts toward a more accurate and inclusive representation of Africa and Africans. Our research involves critical content analysis of history/social studies curriculum standards from all 50 states of the United States. Curriculum standards shape the content of the textbooks, teacher materials, and assessments. By analyzing the history/social studies curriculum standards, we aim to investigate what messages that U.S. schools send to students about Africa and Africans. The preliminary findings include: 1. Despite some progress in the amount and accuracy of information about Africa and Africans, school curriculum still remains Eurocentric in focus. 2. Most curricular focus is on the teaching of slavery and colonization whereas little attention is paid to modern history about Africa. 3. Compared to secondary education, almost little to no content about Africa/Africans is included in elementary curriculum. The implications to curricular transformation will be discussed in the conference.

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

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What About Africa?: an Analysis of What School Curriculum Teaches U.S. Students About Africa

Africa has long been the continent against which Europeans have racially defined themselves. Constructing a white and Western identity in opposition to Black Africans, so that they are believed to be uncivilized barbarians incapable of rational thought, produced Eurocentric ideologies necessary to exploit African people and resources, expand European empires, and subjugate, enslave, and massacre Africans and their descendants during the era of colonial expansion. These ideologies continue to shape conceptions of Africans internationally, as they linger in popular political and media discourse within individual nations. But where are these discourses learned? Educational and cultural scholars argue that school texts play a central role in shaping how people view their nation’s history, racial groups, and racial power hierarchies. School texts are written from a Eurocentric perspective often emphasize Western superiority and perpetuate colonialist ideologies and histories by excluding the voices, experiences, cultures, and histories of dominated groups both nationally and internationally. Therefore, there is a critical need to examine and transform school texts toward a more accurate and inclusive representation of Africa and Africans. Our research involves critical content analysis of history/social studies curriculum standards from all 50 states of the United States. Curriculum standards shape the content of the textbooks, teacher materials, and assessments. By analyzing the history/social studies curriculum standards, we aim to investigate what messages that U.S. schools send to students about Africa and Africans. The preliminary findings include: 1. Despite some progress in the amount and accuracy of information about Africa and Africans, school curriculum still remains Eurocentric in focus. 2. Most curricular focus is on the teaching of slavery and colonization whereas little attention is paid to modern history about Africa. 3. Compared to secondary education, almost little to no content about Africa/Africans is included in elementary curriculum. The implications to curricular transformation will be discussed in the conference.