During this school year, the learning experience of school children in Baltimore City and Prince George's County will be filtered through a new lens incorporating the history, culture, experience and achievements of Africans and African Americans. A discussion of the European Renaissance, for example, might include discussion of the University of Sankore at Timbuktu, which flourished at the same time. "What we are really striving to do is have a very accurate portrait of all the players who contributed to the period of time or field brought out in the classroom," said Prince George's County curriculum director Robert R. Ogden.
This seems reasonable enough in a nation hurtling rapidly toward widespread cultural and racial diversity. Yet multicultural curricula have met with considerable opposition from those who fear they will further isolate inner-city youngsters, and that European history itself may be lost in the process. It's hard to see how weaving African Americans -- and eventually other groups -- into our educational tapestry will lead to either outcome.
Imparting a diverse historical perspective that treats non-whites as equals can only add to the self esteem of youngsters too often bombarded by negative messages. The other worry, that European history will somehow be lost, misses the point -- the goal is to recognize the full spectrum of historical development so that children learn about both events in Europe and on other continents.