Program Structure & Cultural Journeys
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Why Critical Thinking?

Developing the skills to help shape our world is challenging. Wars within countries are common and long-standing differences between countries remain unresolved. Political and physical differences among peoples of the world have remained the major cause for inequitable distribution of wealth, goods and services and rights over centuries. The desire of man to control all aspects of the environment has led to a response from nature that has affected aspects of all human activities. Even with advanced technology, conditions causing dis-ease to the human body continue to spread within and between continents. People are living in the world without access to proper foods to eat and without appropriate places to eliminate body waste and to discard trash and nuclear waste. Families are disjointed, not extended. The development of any curriculum must recognize the state of our existence and thus focus on the development of children who will be willing to challenge the causes of their existence and who will have the skills and abilities to make significant changes. Wade Nobles identifies the purpose of education as reproducing the best that is within us. A clarification of the “best” is, however, in order. Men and women with advanced technological skills have produced the present world. To reproduce the best within us means reproducing men and women who in addition to possessing the required skills needed for change have values that focus on growth and positive development. Sankofa uses the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) as its foundation. The principles stress the following skill sets.

  1. Strive for unity within the family, community, nation, race, and world.

  2. Allow a people to define themselves, name themselves and speak for themselves and coexist with others.

  3. Build and maintain communities and make the problems of others their problems and solve them together.

  4. Build and maintain stores, shops and other businesses and profit together from them.

  5. Reflect the purpose of having the vocation of building and developing the community to the fullest extent possible for the benefit of the people of that community.

  6. Inspire them to leave communities more beautiful and beneficial than they were inherited.

  7. Demonstrate an undying belief in the concept of family, of community, of leaders, the people and the righteousness of their mission.

Children with those values will become adults who can take responsibility for themselves, their families, their communities and their world. They are children who can analyze a situation, make predictions, test theories, readjust the analysis, retest, and develop conclusions. These children make plans and use resources. These children seek accuracy and clarity. They can view problems from different perspectives. They are not afraid to deal with uncertainty and they have faith that they can accomplish a goal in the face of adversity. They represent those who need to take charge of correcting the state of the world. In order to correct the ills of this world, our youth must be skilled in problem solving and critical thinking. Too often in our schools, critical thinking skills have been overlooked, skipped or not considered the basic part of the curriculum. Yet thinking skills ARE basic. Critical thinking activities should be an integral part of every child’s education.

Sankofa is designed to give youth opportunities to develop and exercise their critical thinking skills. They develop these skills by observing how their peers think. They work in groups where the discussion becomes invaluable. Creativity and divergent thinking are encouraged as no one solution or methods of solution to the problems posed exist. We are concerned about how well youth can support and defend their solution. The youth will be guided through problem solving activities by questioning. The questions will lead students to compare, classify, develop conclusions based on facts, make predictions, identify perspectives and the reasoning behind the perspectives as well as alternative perspectives.