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Alchemy of the Soul

An African-centered Education


Joyce Piert

It started with a dream, a dream in the night that challenged the dream of the author’s life. That dream, which evolved through her personal experiences, was to start an African-centered school. The dream in the night ignited the journey that led to this book, which was to discover answers to critical questions such as: What is an African-centered education model? How do former students perceive this experience? And can, or even should, this educational model be effectively adopted in traditional public schools? Joyce Piert offers this book as a critical resource to parents, educators, potential teachers, community leaders, and policymakers who are seriously pondering the question of how to provide all students with a holistic educational experience. In Alchemy of the Soul, the vibrant voices of African American young adults share their stories in robust and candid narratives of their educational experiences at an African-centered school.
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Chapter 4. Locating the Caravan to Egypt



“It’s called the principle of favorability, beginner’s luck. Because life wants you to achieve your destiny,” the old king had said. (Coelho & Clarke, 1988/1933, p. 35)

This extensive review of the literature gave me significant insight into and respect toward the intrinsic human desire of African Americans for self-­determination. I feel that the “principle of favorability” has gifted me with fundamental information that peeled back the layers around this educational model. Like Santiago, I was feeling that luck was on my side and was assisting me in answering the question that I had posed at the onset of this search. I felt that I wanted to understand the perceived value of this educational model on the lives of African American students. I wanted to address the following questions: Is there more for students to gain from this educational model than just higher grades? Does this educational model enhance self-­concept and increase life’s opportunities for students who attend an African-­centered school for a majority of their educational career?

However, I believed the question I really needed to ask was this: “How do African American students who have graduated from an African-­centered school perceive that school experience in retrospect?” I take a moment to reflect on The Alchemist once again. As Santiago steps out to fulfill his dream, ← 33 | 34 → he encounters an old man whose name is Melchizedek. Melchizedek informs...

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