Nuzhat Uthmani portrait

Written by Nuzhat Uthmani

Primary Teacher specialising in Global Citizenship and Antiracist education

I posed a survey through @Scotedpolls recently in which 25% of respondents said they did not feel they needed to decolonise the curriculum. Despite the majority of respondents expressing an interest in learning more, this statistic stuck with me. Is it because educators don’t understand what the term means or is it because they don’t see that there is an inherent problem with our curriculum? Let me address both these possibilities.

This time last year, even I had not heard of this term. Lockdown allowed me the freedom to invest in my own professional development and, as an advocate of global citizenship, I learnt more about decolonising the curriculum and its impact on the education system.

Traditionally, much of our curriculum is framed around the successes of the British Empire. It fails to acknowledge the contribution of communities and nations without which the empire would not have been as successful or wealthy as it once was. The stories of what those nations sacrificed as a result has been hidden away for centuries. Decolonising the curriculum refers to the inclusion of those stories, characters and contributions of others around the world that has impacted on the lives that we live today.

The Black Lives Matter movement is seeking to do this by raising awareness of how the UK gained from the slave trade while committing human rights abuses on those communities. However, as educators we must be mindful of not promoting a stereotypical view of certain groups. When we teach about slavery, we should be mindful to also teach about the contribution of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities to Science, the Arts and Politics for example.

I’m on a mission now to embed diversity across all the curriculum. It does not mean scrapping everything we know and teaching new topics, instead it involves a mind-shift from educators, ensuring the inclusion of diverse examples and resources in their daily teaching. It means ensuring that one narrative doesn’t dominate out curriculum but a diversity of perspectives and experiences are represented.

So, what about those in our community who feel nothing needs to change? My question to those is how inclusive is your practice? Holding standalone themed weeks is a box ticking exercise we need to move away from and embrace diversity in all that we do. If you rarely use books with characters of colour, if you only use examples from the Western world, then that is not inclusive to those learners who never see their heritage valued within the classroom, so please think again.

If you want to learn more please check my blog on Global Citizenship Education for lesson plans, research, and links to a variety of organisations who are all working towards establishing anti-racist education and can help you get started on your journey to offering a more inclusive and diverse curriculum.

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