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Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsWeek two, exploring different approaches to African philosophy of education. During this week, we will examine at least two approaches to African thinking and doing. Today, we will look at ethnophilosophy of education.

Skip to 0 minutes and 35 secondsSo what does ethnophilosophy of education or an approach to African philosophy of education entail? This particular approach relies on the use of oral stories, poetry, songs, legends, and proverbs. For example as sources of knowledge, one examines the consequences of such knowledge for educational experiences. Remember, we said during week one that once we identify a particular problem and we find how to ascertain the reasons as to why these problems are what they are, then we look at the consequences of these problems for education. Similarly, when using ethnophilosophy of education you look at oral stories, poetry, songs, legends, folklore and proverbs. And you find out the reasons behind these in order to ascertain what the educational implications would be.

Skip to 1 minute and 48 secondsLet me give you at least two examples. For instance, when we use the proverb to respond to knowledge, what is knowledge, and we use a proverb.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 secondsAfricans or in African thought, there is one like, knowledge is like a baobab tree and so no person can embrace it with both arms. Interesting. Now, another way of saying that is knowledge grows and grows. And there is no need-- or rather, there is no end to what a person can know. So knowledge is like a baobab tree and no person can embrace it. And that talks to you about a way whereby knowledge is considered as evolving. It's growing. It's growing. There's no end to it, it's endless. And it's endless to what a person can know. So that particular proverb can help to explain a particular understanding of knowledge.

Skip to 3 minutes and 9 secondsAgain, another example, a proverb in Africa which states he who knows all knows nothing. Now this is a way of emphasizing intellectual curiosity and openness. In other words, there is always more to know. So if you claim you know all or you know everything, you know nothing. Because you are closing the door to further knowledge. So to express the openness and the curiosity pertaining to an advancement of knowledge in Africa, is to say, he who knows all knows nothing. And these are two examples as to how ethnophilosophy, through proverbs, can be used to explain or to give consideration to an understanding of knowledge.

Ethno-philosophy of education

Ethno-philosophy of education draws on sources of knowledge such as customs (traditions), lifestyles, myths (folklores), languages, beliefs, artefacts and histories of different African cultures.

By using oral stories, poetry, songs, legends and proverbs, for example, as sources of knowledge one examines the consequences of such knowledge for educational experiences.

Consider the following question …

Think of your own upbringing in your community. What narrative do you remember that influenced the ways community members responded to a crisis in your community?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching for Change: An African Philosophical Approach

Stellenbosch University

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