African-Centered Pedagogy

Developing Schools of Achievement for African American Children

By Peter C. Murrell Jr.

Subjects: Teaching And Learning
Series: SUNY series, The Social Context of Education
Paperback : 9780791452929, 236 pages, February 2002
Hardcover : 9780791452912, 236 pages, February 2002

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Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables



Part I: Framing the Work

1. The Wrong Frames for the Right Problem
2. Traditions of African American Education: A Historical Perspective
3. Culture, Cognition, and the Community of Achievement

Part II: Pedagogical Theory for Building a Community of African American Achievement

4. Overview of the Pedagogical Theory
5. From a Community of Caring to a Community of Achievement
6. Teaching as Assisted Performance in the African American Tradition
7. The Classroom Ecology of Culture and Language
8. Discourse Practices in a Community of Achievement
9. Teaching for Understanding, Learning and Liberation
10. Appraising My Own Practice: African-Centered Pedagogy in Preparing Teachers




Integrates the historical, cultural, political, and developmental considerations of the African American experience into a theory for the educational achievement of African American children.


What can teachers, administrators, families, and communities do to create schools that provide rich learning experiences for African American children? Based on a critical reinterpretation of several key educational frameworks, African-Centered Pedagogy is a practical guide to accomplished teaching. Murrell suggests integrating the historical, cultural, political, and developmental considerations of the African American experience into a unified system of instruction, bringing to light those practices that already exist and linking them to contemporary ideas and innovations that concern effective practice in African American communities. This is then applied through a case study analysis of a school seeking to incorporate the unified theory and embrace African-centered practice. Murrell argues that key educational frameworks—although currently ineffective with African American children—hold promise if reinterpreted.

Peter C. Murrell Jr. is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Innovation in Urban Education at Northeastern University. He is the author of Like Stone Soup: The Role of the Professional Development School in the Renewal of Urban Schools.


"Murrell's autobiographical voice not only provides a historical and cultural space for understanding the particulars of African American teaching and learning, but also presents a personal case that is both powerful and illuminating. This book will reshape our thinking about what theory is and what it means for teaching practice. " — James Earl Davis, coeditor of Black Sons to Mothers: Compliments, Critiques, and Challenges for Cultural Workers in Education

"Challenging simplistic approaches to educating African American children, Murrell suggests a well-researched model that links what we know about learning theories and cultural studies. He explains the 'triple threat' to African American student achievement—teachers who expect less, the media messages that depict African Americans as less able, and peers who say that academically successful African American children are 'acting white. ' He gives personal examples and shares his experiences so that teachers know he has worked in schools and understands their world. " — Khaula Murtada-Watts, Indiana University