B.C. Effort Inserts Caribbean Culture in Boston Schools' Curriculum

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

The Boston Public Schools' need for a curriculum more attuned to its growing Caribbean population, and a Boston College initiative to address the issue, were the subjects of discussion at the Nov. 4 "Blacks in Boston" conference in Devlin Hall.

Approximately 80 administrators and teachers from the Boston Public Schools attended the event, titled "Creating a New Curriculum: The Caribbean Heritage." The conference was the sixth in the "Blacks in Boston" series, and featured tributes to its founder, the late Black Studies Program Director Amanda Houston.

Following a keynote speech by James Millette, professor of African-American Studies at Oberlin College, Asst. Prof. Otherine Neisler (SOE) described an ongoing effort by several Boston College faculty to develop a curriculum recognizing Caribbean culture. The need for such a curriculum is clear, she said: As many as 70 percent of children in the Boston Public Schools are of Caribbean descent, yet the region receives little, if any attention in the schools' coursework.

"Children need to know where they come from and be proud of their culture, while at the same time be respectful of other people's heritage," said Neisler.

The faculty group's curriculum, formulated over the past year, focuses on the impact of Boston's Caribbean culture as it relates to the schoolchildren's lives. It uses folklore, family history and profiles of Caribbean-owned businesses to demonstrate how widespread the culture is in local communities. Several schools have already incorporated the curriculum, Neisler said, and students are exhibiting more self-confidence and pride in their heritage as a result.

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