Saving Our Sons In School

An Ultimate Guide To Understanding And Educating Young Black Males

By Richard Clay (A Future Publication)

The Department of Education knows very well from prior studies that once young Black males begin to loose real interest in school and lean towards the notion that education is an exercise in futility, their academic skills and abilities in the more technical math and science classes begin to decline rapidly.  Yet the American educational system has strategically turned these two most practical of all subjects into the most abstract classes.

Math and science classes are challenging enough to students who are fully engaged with their schoolwork.  They become extremely difficult and mentally draining to those who take a lackadaisical approach towards their school work, are excessively bored by their school work, can barely read their work, or see little real life value or application in these classes as they are taught.

At the junior high and high school levels, math and science classes are generally taught to Black students in very dry and abstract formats, inside classrooms that severely lack basic equipment and supplies.  Additionally, the educational system works hard to turn the descendants of the African people who first introduce science and math to the world into a people who hate and fear these very bodies of knowledge that their ancestors created.  As George James documents in his classic book Stolen Legacy, the American educational system goes to great lengths to emphasize the Greek reproduction of popular African mathematical and scientific concepts without ever, in any meaningful way, acknowledging the well-documented African origins of math and science.

This intentional, reckless distortion of history has been written about by countless other historians including: Dr. John Henrik Clark, Dr. Cheik Anta Diop, Dr. Ivan Van sertima, Dr. Joseph Ben Yochenon, Professor Chancelor Williams, and Martin Bernal.  It is perpetrated for two main reasons.  Those are to deny African people and their descendants any knowledge of the brilliant, extensive mathematical and scientific legacies that we have given to the world, and to leave present, as well as future generations of Black children with no tangible evidence that they can excel in the more technical fields of math and science.

The Children’s Defense Fund’s report entitled, “America’s Cradle To Prison Pipeline,” states that only 7% of Black students in the eighth grade are testing on-task in math in comparison to just 12% of Hispanic students, and only 37% of white students in the same grade.  These are appalling numbers across the board.  However, The steadily declining interest and deplorable academic performance of Black boys in math and science, especially in grades 4-8, is causing devastating consequences throughout Black communities.  The resulting consequences will gradually intensify until we the concerned actively intervene.

Already, Black men are glaringly absent from the higher paying jobs in the critical fields of: chemistry, teaching, medicine, economics, engineering, computer science, agriculture, architecture, archaeology, accounting, biology, and astronomy just to name a few.  If allowed to continue, these current trends will result in fewer and fewer young Black males going on to attain college degrees in math and science.

Furthermore, these trends will relegate millions of more Black men to lives as debt-ridden consumers working low-wage, non-technical jobs that are incapable of adequately supporting them and their families.  Last but not least, these trends will leave the Black race perpetually dependent upon whites and other racial groups to take care of all of our community’s technical needs including: food production, surgery and advanced medical services, business development, financing, waste disposal treatment, product invention and manufacturing, and computer programming.

No people can progress or sustain themselves in today’s global economy without producing their own leading scientists, engineers, businessmen, and technocrats.  Under the current educational system, we are facing a future in which Black people in general will lack the math and science skills necessary to build, grow, manufacture, finance, analyze, or change anything in a significant fashion.  Therefore, our mission must unite our supporters and us in wide-scale efforts to bolster the skills of all Black students in the areas of math and science.

Our initial efforts should focus on elementary and junior high school students who are still forming their opinions about math and science because the vast majority of our sons in high school have already been terribly spooked.  Annual Science B’s and Math B’s should be hosted at all levels and supported just as enthusiastically as are Spelling B’s.  Staff and community members should sponsor science, math, and business clubs at all schools including high schools.

Schools should place a renewed emphasis on full student participation in educational, yet fun competitive activities such as the Science Fair and the Academic Games.  These activities allow students throughout each region of the country to learn, travel, and network while constructively competing against each other in a variety of academic fields including math and science.

For all grade level math students, the concepts of “real life” math can be taught simply by setting up a classroom store.  If each student is allotted some form of money, points, and/or credit with which to purchase real things from the classroom store, they can easily be taught the skills of complex counting, making change, personal budgeting, advertising and product sales, and micro business management.  Staff members must always closely supervise and secure the classroom store.

For all grade level science students, teachers must demystify science by showing students how science plays an integral role in every one of their daily thoughts and actions.  They should be taught to analyze how they make use of science every single moment of every single day.  They must be challenged to think of how their lives would be enhanced if they better understood the scientific principles that they are utilizing on a daily basis.  From taking a trip to a lake, a walk down a hallway, a trip to a planetarium, or a drink from a fountain, teach them how simple to complex scientific principles are always at work and having an impact on their personal lives.

Black communities as a whole must work to find more substantive ways to recognize and encourage the achievements of our youth in math and science to the point that our young scholars feel at least as supported as do our young athletes.  More celebrated trophies, awards, scholarships, and tributes must be given to young Black males who excel in these subjects.  Not to belittle any student’s accomplishments or skills, but Lord knows that we need a ton more Black math and science majors today than we need Black athletes.  Yet the comparative attitudes of most Black adults towards sports and academics reflect the exact opposite to our sons.

Finally, math and science teachers at all grade levels must work harder to make their curriculums more interesting and relevant to young Black males by including more of the following:

  • Practical applications;
  • Information on subject and branch-related career options and annual salaries;
  • Holistic connections to academic and real life subjects;
  • Subject-related games;
  • Cultural references and biographies;
  • Hands-on experiments;
  • Question-guided videos and documentaries;
  • Field trips; and
  • Subject related guest speakers.