What is Decolonisation?

A guest blog from Dr Muna Abdi. Whose work if you aren’t following please do. Her amazing website is here.

Decolonising education involves the diversification of literature and modes of assessment and the questioning and critiquing of taken for granted ideologies that underpin how & why privilege some pieces of knowledge over others.

We are unpacking and unlearning the embedded principles and practices underpinning our education through the early years, primary & secondary.

What was I taught?
What was I able to read?
What was I able to question?
How was I assessed?

These are the essential questions we must ask at all education levels, but particularly in those formative years. Decolonising the curriculum in schools requires us to ask honest questions about who the curriculum is designed for and who it is designed to exclude.

It does not mean removing Shakespeare, and it does not solely imply including texts from writers of colour. It asks us to look at our reading lists across subject areas, question what is missing, and critique what is there.
What messages does the curriculum send to children about the stories, histories, pieces of knowledge and bodies that are visible, normalised and valued?

What message does it send to ALL children? Both those who see themselves represented and those who do not:

Do our subject areas offer insights into diverse international, national and local perspectives?

Do we teach Black history as an addition to the history curriculum or BHM instead of being embedded as part of it?

Do you teach Black history from an African American perspective, ignoring the Black British experience?

When you teach about WW1 & WW2, do you share the experiences/ stories of those that lived in British colonies that came to fight for Britain?

Do you teach about Empire?

In science, do we only focus on White European scientists and ignore the ground-breaking contributions from people of colour?

Do you name the role of science in legitimising systemic racism?

In Music, art, RE and all subject areas, are children able to bring their experiences into the room, not only as part of classroom discussions but also as formative contributions valued and used as part of their assessments?

Yes, the national curriculum is always politically driven and, in its current state, extremely narrow. Systemic change is needed, but change within the classroom can start now. There are spaces within the curriculum; Spaces for learning communities to be creative.

Decolonisation is a process, not a result, and all I ask is that we take a look at the curriculum we have and do what is within our power to challenge and change. It’s not easy, but equity never comes with ease.

2 thoughts on “What is Decolonisation?

  1. Most curricula at all levels focus on England (NOT the UK) and the ‘top dogs” I was so glad that I had a couple of years in school in Budapest when the war ended before we emigrated. Hungary’s history, writers et al do not exist in the curricula. So I would have been made into a sort of non-person. Many years later when I was actually teaching in a high school in north London, a fellow teacher took me to visit his parents in Sussex as I had not visited there. They asked me if there was a Hungarian language, was it written, were there schools there, etc etc. No need to tell you more….

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