Can I Relate? Promoting Inclusive Curriculum for Black Students

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Girl Reading Book

An Inclusive Curriculum for Black Students

My Experience of Inclusive Curriculum

Girl reading a book

 

I remember at school the only topic relating to black history was slavery in the US. I remember feeling distraught watching and reading what black people went through during slavery.As a young black girl it would make me feel discouraged and think is this our only history? Ok we did study Martin Luther King and Mandela too.. but were these the only powerful black people in the history books? What was even crazier is that it was African American history! Are you really telling me Black British people did nothing worth writing and discussing? Secondly, are you telling me Britain had nothing to do with the Black Slave Trade? What I find completely strange is the curriculum does not discuss Slave Trade within England but it discusses Slavery in the US.

Now when defining inclusive curriculum it means teaching and learning practice that leads to improving access to education for ALL students. To me, this should take into account different Black cultural experiences. Now I don’t know about other black women and men in the UK but I did not get this at school.

How Lack of Inclusive Education Impacted Me

As I got older sometimes I did not take pride in who I am. Growing up Black and being of African heritage as a teenager was seen as something to be ashamed of in school. Worse of all it was mostly black students making offensive comments among each other! Of course, I loved my culture, food and appreciated my black friends but there was something missing. When you think of it, how can you take pride in who you are when the place you live only depicts the negative experiences of black people?

Anyway one summer I went through my mum’s book collection and I realised she had loads of black books! That summer I felt so happy and so much pride in being a black girl and all the things my people accomplished around the world (including the UK because yes inspirational black people exist in the UK!).  Despite traumatic events, black people experienced what we were able to accomplish was inspirational! I could not believe I never knew this before.

Boy writing on paper

Do we need an Inclusive Curriculum for Black Students?

Now honestly as much as this should happen it is not. As black men and women, we need to start researching ourselves and not wait for a curriculum (which was not built for us). There is a common notion among some African and Caribbean parents that the British School system is a sound education not requiring any further learning outside the formal curriculum. Parents may not be aware that their children’s culture and history is being denied in school. This, can lead to the students absorbing negative self-images being perpetuated by the school. For example, as of recently, let’s consider the outrage regarding the GCSE sociology book claiming Caribbean parents are largely absent from families... Imagine being a Black Caribbean student reading this and the perception other students will have within the classroom of Caribbean students. Students are already forming negative stereotypes among a certain community.

What we need to know is formal curriculum was traditionally formed regarding the cultural values of White Middle-Class Britain. This ideology means what we need to learn as Black people cannot be isolated to formal schooling. Until school makes changes (that is if they do) we need to start taking the power into our own hands and not wait for others. Listen if we wait, we will be waiting forever!

Can we promote inclusion?

There are books about Black British history and even classes regarding Black Studies. It is time we start educating ourselves, brother, sisters, nieces, nephews and cousins as early as possible. It is time we take pride in who we are and make sure black girls and boys too! We can wait for the change or be the change to our black children! We need to change our thinking so we can make major differences to ourselves and in our community.

Closing Points

I think back to being a child in secondary school and perhaps if I was exposed to more positive perceptions of Black British people maybe my thinking would have been different. Lack of representation places a major impact on young people at school. This can potentially impact their mental health.

Knowledge is power so it is time we start learning the Black way!

Books on a shelf

I want to hear your schools experiences and views on the curriculum. Do you agree or disagree with my points? Have you got solutions to these problems?

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