of a Writing Project
from a 6th Grade Study of Africa
Sunu Rao*: the homeland
Like their fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers
for generations beyond counting, the people of Africa
lived free, mom-sa-bop*, under hot sun and thick shade
Moan, groan, I paced by the nigunach, my home.
Inside my wife was giving birth. A son was born. I saw my son, Samba, grow and grow. Finally, my son
was taken by the men of our tribe. My wife wailed.
My heart beat faster and faster. Fump, thump, fump,
thump. He was going to the leul, the initiation.
All around quieted.
*From the Wolof language of West Africa
At the heart of Enki is a commitment to multicultural education.
For us, multicultural education grows from the understanding that
fundamental human decency and dignity, courage, and compassion
are inherent in all people. We believe that it is important for
each family to support the child's connection to and pride in her
own heritage in the course of family life, but that it is the role
of education, whether in a homeschool or classroom program, to
help her develop meaningful connections to the larger world. In
this context, we believe that students are best nurtured when they
see their own strengths and struggles reflected in all mankind and can experience human greatness in any nationality, race, or
religion. Therefore, in both the Enki classroom and homeschooling
curriculum, all students are immersed in literature, drama, music,
arts, and ideas from around the world.
multicultural education curriculum emphasizes the cultural composition
of the particular local area, while reflecting the global community.
At all grade levels, in keeping with the particular developmental
issues of that age, children work with all academic content in
the context of several cultures each year. Working with one culture
at a time, using stories, songs, drama, games, and the events
and ideas of daily life, the children have a chance to absorb
that culture directly.
This ongoing experience of other cultures creates a ground of deep
respect and reverence for human traditions. As the children experience
the “everyman” in us all, their natural and open interest,
enthusiasm, and compassion are fostered.
Parent in Rhode Island:
I have been working with my son with the music and art of Italy as part of the St. Francis unit. It is fun and he is loving it, but I didn't think all that much about the impact. Then I was watching a movie and at one point it was set in Italy and they played a tarantella. I got all excited and could feel my body wanting to join in, but I couldn't figure out why for a minute. When I realized it was the tarantella I had such a visceral confirmation of why you teach cultures through the arts. I've always agreed with it and understood it conceptually, and seen how my child takes it up, but this time I felt it so clearly and personally - somehow the tarantella had become something of MINE, and so "being with" the Italians was like being with something in my own identity. Cool.