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Integrating black draft 3

Integrating black draft 3 - Integrating Black British...

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Integrating Black British History into the National Curriculum Dan Lyndon, AST, Head of History, Henry Compton School, Fulham Too little attention is given to the black and multi-ethnic aspects of British history. The teaching of black history is often confined to topics about slavery and post-war immigration or to Black History Month. The effect, if inadvertent, is to undervalue the overall contribution of black and minority ethnic people to Britain’s past and to ignore their cultural, scientific and many other achievements. QCA Annual report on curriculum and assessment in history 2004/5. There has been a continuous black 1 presence in Britain for over 500 years. 2 However, one of the most contested debates about teaching black history is the suggestion that this is a history that is not relevant to the vast majority of students, that is, those who come from the ethnic majority. Furthermore, it has been argued that an emphasis on black history unfairly and artifcially ‘distorts’ the past, by exaggerating the influence of a few ‘bit-part players’ on British history. A debate about the teaching of black history arose on the TES discussion forum 3 a few months ago; one respondent argued that if they were going to teach about the black sailors in the British fleet at the battle of Trafalgar (there are records of black sailors in the Royal Navy as far back as 1595), 4 this would only be a “10 second” comment in the lesson before moving on to “the more important stuff”. 5 As a result of this (often heated) debate it occurred to me that the solution to the problem of tokenism or exaggeration was a series of short bursts of relevant black history ‘dripped’ into the curriculum at the appropriate moment. This would ensure a fair representation of the contribution made by black Britons, would not force history teachers to artificially create opportunities to add in black history nor restrict black history only to the month of October. By demonstrating how black history has been successfully integrated into the National Curriculum schemes of work in the History department at Henry Compton School, this article directly addresses the concerns laid out in the QCA report, above; that black history is too narrow; artificially bolted on to history lessons in October; and undervalues the contribution made by black Britons. There are three main ways in which these concerns can be tackled with relative ease and minimal disruption to current practice; 1) through a thematic approach, such as looking at Elizabethan attitudes to poverty and Elizabeth I’s attempts to repatriate the Blackmoores (the Africans living in England were given this name, amongst others); 2) through looking at key historical events, such as the two World Wars and the contributions that were made by black and asian people; 3) through an examination of key individuals such as Olaudah Equiano or William Cuffay. The crucial element to the approach advocated
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