Senghor presents a model of African education that puts his ideas on assimilation and association into practice. He does not advocate an isolationist education, in which students only learn African humanities, but instead claims that African students must be learned in their own traditions in order to properly absorb and dialogue with European thought. Without this grounding in African language and literature, African students veer towards the negative sense of assimilation, imitating Europeans forms rather than selectively incorporating aspects that complement and improve upon the attributes of African civilization. Through this rooting of identity in language and a unique expression of humanity, Africans are placed on equal footing with European and other world traditions, and are thus able to associate with others through the exchange of ideas. But immersion in African literature can only occur once an African literary genre is developed. Accordingly, Senghor advocates the preservation of African oral literature in a written format.
Quotes from “Education”:
“But we should bear in mind that the teaching of the classical languages is not an end in itself. It is a tool for discovering human truths in oneself and for expressing them under their various aspects (53).”
“I would like to see in secondary schools every exercise and every essay a continual confrontation and yet at the same time a continual exchange of opinions between Europe and Africa (53).”
“We have heard for decades about the ‘modern humanities’. Why should there not be ‘African humanities' (53)?”
“How can an African elite play its part in bringing about a renaissance of African civilization out of the ferment caused by French contact if they start of knowing nothing about that civilization? And where can a more authentic expression of that civilization be found than in vernacular languages and literature (54)?”