This Guest post is written by Asish Kundi. Middle leader and Changemaker.
“Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The above quote is always an excellent component for a starter for many RS or PSHE lessons. A key area of concern is that in many schools, it regularly is limited to only particular subjects where students are given a relatively accurate and sufficient amount of representation of diversity and equality. In subject areas where lessons are sometimes limited to an hour a fortnight or the odd assembly, the occasional 15 minute form time or a drop-down day; Many students are starved of diversity within the curriculum. If a student is absent for one of the strategies previously mentioned it could be weeks or even a year until they have another opportunity to receive a strand of their education that prepares them for our modern-day world.
Why We Must Rise
It is becoming more evident that our delivery of the curriculum needs to be global. When pondering the concept, it needs to be genuinely global where both east and west are married together to provide a balanced delivery of our curriculum. I am not saying it’s not already happening. However, I am saying that we need to further embed diversity and equality in all areas of our curriculum.
I sincerely believe that embedding a global ethos within our curriculum needs to be perceived as our duty of care and a crucial part of our safeguarding in schools. We may be able to give the odd ‘flash in the pan’ moments of SMSC and FBV. Unless it is thoroughly embedded into all areas of our curriculum; Students will have their ‘flash in the pan’ moments of global education and then in some cases outside of school receive a heavy diet of hate and extreme values. As schools, we need to step up and compete with that menu.
“The bad people trying to make the world worse never take a day off, so why should I?”
Mr. Marley is right with this quote, and the critical question is, how do we compete?
Some of the strategies come from Mr. Pranav Patel, who has pioneered the concept of decolonising the curriculum, which is the future of having a more diverse, equal and representative education for all.
How do we serve?
The slide above is from some training I presented; it focuses on the specialisms of the trainees I was presenting to; however, the sentiment still stands. As an RS specialist who also teaches A-level Psychology many of the Philosophers or Psychologists that I refer from the exam specifications tend to be white males. There is a distinct lack of diversity in the credit given to religious and psychological thought. It needs to be made clear that the aim is not to shame or blame communities but to empower all communities.
In each of the subjects, it outlines topics and individuals who would provide more a global perspective on critical areas of some of our themes. It is about boosting the representation and giving credit to contributions to knowledge from different cultures. It is not about using diverse backgrounds as a gimmick to promote diversity. However, we must focus on the participation and achievements of individuals rather than just the environment.
In terms of speaking about the key issues, we must look at history and society without a rose-tinted lens. We must tackle it head-on, as that is the foundation to build on when creating an equal and fair culture for all. The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in September publicly apologised for Nazi Tyranny in Poland. In Germany, every child during their education must visit and learn about the concentration camps. Daryl Davis speaks of how the Ku Klux Klan is as American as baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet. He makes clear that the KKK is also a part of American history. We must take into account and reflect the light and the dark sides of our history, and this will be a catalyst in not only engaging more students within the curriculum but also leading towards a society that has genuine equality at its core. This blog is not just a call to history teachers but all of us who work in education.
How does it empower?
Pranav Patel speaks of how when he was at university in his early twenties; he was challenged on the contributions of Indians to the world of knowledge; he felt that there were no answers to this challenge. This position is not an isolated anomaly, for many individuals growing up in our education system, this would be the case.mWhen I was growing up, I remember during the two minutes of silence in remembrance services, while having the due respect for those who fell in the great wars. For some reason, I did not feel part of it. Again, like Pranav, it was when I became an adult it dawned on me that whenever there was the talk of the great wars, there was no mention of people that looked, spoke or behaved like my family or me. So if I did come across an experience of overt racism where somebody would say something along the lines of “go back to your own country.” In many cases, I tended to believe them, that this wasn’t my country because I was under the illusion that people like me gave no value to this country.
By not representing these key contributions of different cultures to our world in all curricula, we run the risk of isolating a large proportion of students. Who unless we change, will continue to be disengaged, which will contribute to the metaphysical two-tier system that our curriculum can, in many ways embed into young people’s minds. A consequence is that one strand of society will have a superiority complex and the other an inferiority complex. The sooner we embed and prioritise representation, diversity and equality into all our curriculum areas, the sooner all students are empowered to achieve their most ambitious goals.