Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

The Public School Insights blog just released an interview with Harvard Professor and cultural critic Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who captured some 25 million viewers with his riveting PBS documentary series, African American Lives. Using genealogical research and cutting-edge DNA science, the documentaries trace the family history of 19 famous African Americans--including Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock--to create a rich and moving account of the African American experience.

In the interview, Gates describes how the genealogy and DNA research central to the documentary can revolutionize how we teach history and science to African American Students:

You see, if you and I... went into an inner-city school and said, 'We're going to drag you into historical archives about the Civil War,' or the Great Depression, or the Great Migration, kids would say, "Get out of town.' But if we said, 'We're going to trace your family through those periods and to those periods,' my goodness, who wouldn't be interested in that?... My idea is to use the fascination with one's collective self, one's familial self, to seduce people back into learning.

The interview is available here.

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