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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 16 January 2004 - 07:51 AM

As a Black Briton, I was always a little wary of explicit demonstrations of nationalism whilst growing up. As mentioned by some of the contributors earlier, nationalism can and does breed violence against the perceived 'other'....

I would like to comment on the type of 'History' that Black people are taught in Britain. Slavery and perhaps civil rights USA seem to be the only History Black people have.  Of course these topics are perhaps the most relevant for Black people in the' West' but I do not think it allows a sense of pride to be felt.  All people should be taught some aspects of History that help them to have pride in who they are and where they have come from.  Hence some focus should be given to Pre-European African history.  Not only would a focus on the ancient empires of Africa create a greater sense of self-worth for young Blacks, it would also allow European children to have a more balanced view of Black people.  The current social and economic status of Africa in the media only creates sympathy and unfortunately, ridicule of the role Black people have played in world history.

On this note I would like to ask the European contributors whether their countries consider the role of Black people in their History curriculum??  For example, in Spain particularly, are the Moorish invasions of the middle Ages considered?


On another thread I have raised the issue of cultural imperialism as it impacts on the working class. This is a far greater issue when looking at black history. As in English literature, the white middle/upper class have been given far too prominent role.

http://educationforu...p?showtopic=204

How then we can integrate black history into the curriculum? Teachers have several opportunities to look at the role black people played in events that appear on the traditional history curriculum.

For example, when looking at the struggle for equal rights you can study William Davidson and the Cato Street Conspiracy. He was also one of the first black man in Britain to be fitted up for a crime he probably did not commit and died a terrible death.

When studying the struggle for the vote it is also important to look at the case of the Chartist William Cuffay. Like Davidson he was fitted up by the government and was deported to Tasmania for 21 years. When he was released he became involved in radical politics and trade union issues and played an important role in persuading the authorities to amend the Master and Servant Law in the colony.

The First World War provides another opportunity to study black heroes. Walter Tull, joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1908 and therefore became only the second black man to play professional football in Britain. The first was Arthur Walton, the Preston goalkeeper.

On the outbreak of the First World War Tull immediately abandoned his career and offered his services to the British Army. The Army soon recognised Tull's leadership qualities and he was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1917 he became first ever black officer in the British Army. 2nd Lieutenant Tull was killed while leading an attack across No Mans Land in 1918.

It is also worth looking at the careers of Britain’s first black MPs: Dadabhait Naorji (Finsbury, 1892-1895) and Mancherjee Bhownaggree (Bethnal Green, 1895-1906).

I believe it is important that we should challenge the way that history has been represented in the past. For example, when studying Florence Nightingale we should also look at Mary Seacole. Nightingale is often used as a way of showing how women could make their mark in a male dominated society. However, her story also tells us a great deal about race and class.

Mary Seacole, an expert on disease, travelled from Jamaica to England in 1853 when she heard about the cholera epidemic that had emerged during the Crimean War. Her offer of help was rejected by the British Army. Soon afterwards, Florence Nightingale, who had little practical experience of cholera, was chosen to take a team of thirty-nine nurses to treat the sick soldiers. Mary Seacole now applied to join Nightingale's team but was once again rejected.

Unwilling to accept defeat, Mary paid for her own trip to the Crimea and started up a business called the British Hotel, a few miles from the battlefront. Here she sold food and drink to the British soldiers. With the money she earned from her business Mary was able to finance the medical treatment she gave to the soldiers.

It is very important that when studying black history they are not portrayed as victims. A classic example of this is the topic of slavery. Nearly all school textbooks feature the role played by William Wilberforce in this struggle. Very few of these authors point out that until just before he died Wilberforce was in favour of slavery (he was a campaigner against the slave-trade which is not the same thing although most textbook authors think it is). As Wilberforce pointed out in a pamphlet that he wrote in 1807: "It would be wrong to emancipate (the slaves). To grant freedom to them immediately, would be to insure not only their masters' ruin, but their own. They must (first) be trained and educated for freedom."

Textbook authors also give the impression that Wilberforce was motivated by a sense of religious morality. In fact, Wilberforce had been converted to the campaign by Adam Smith who argued that capitalists could obtain higher profits from free workers than slaves (Smith provided plenty of examples from the costs of production of sugar, etc. throughout the British Empire).

Although it is important to study Wilberforce when dealing with the slave trade it is also important to look at the role of others like Elizabeth Heyrick (Wilberforce refused to allow women hold senior positions in the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade), Olaudah Equiano, Ottabah Cugoano and Zamba Zembola. It is also worth looking at those freed slaves from the United States who travelled to England to campaign against slavery. For example, people like Frederick Douglass, a great role model for young blacks.

I have produced a list of annotated websites on Black History. These can be found at

http://www.spartacus...VhistoryRR3.htm

Other web links you might find useful include:

William Davidson

http://www.spartacus.../PRdavidson.htm

William Cuffay

http://www.spartacus...uk/CHcuffay.htm

Walter Tull

http://www.spartacus....uk/FWWtull.htm

Dadabhai Naoroji

http://www.spartacus...k/PRnaoroji.htm

Mancherjee Bhownaggree

http://www.spartacus....uk/PRbhown.htm

Mary Seacole

http://www.spartacus...k/REseacole.htm

Olaudah Equiano

http://www.spartacus...uk/Sequiano.htm

Ottabah Cugoano

http://www.spartacus...USAScugoano.htm

Zamba Zembola

http://www.spartacus...k/USASzamba.htm

Frederick Douglass

http://www.spartacus...SASdouglass.htm

#2 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 18 January 2004 - 10:17 PM

Black and Asian British History is not separate but integral to our history. It is not something that should be tagged on as an afterthought; it should pervade throughout the curriculum.

As well as raising the awareness of all students of the Black and Asian presence in Britain, the teaching of Black and Asian British History can be an effective tool for challenging the underachievement of ethnic minority students. Only 30% of pupils from black Caribbean families achieved 5 or more A*-C grades, Black African pupils 40% and Bangladeshi 45% (Institute of Race Relations 2003) As QCA argue, the multicultural ‘approach … enables young people from minority ethnic groups to identify with the curriculum and engage in the learning process, with the desired outcome of raising their educational attainment’.

My own experience of teaching in a multicultural school in London confirms this. I believe that one of the best ways to raise a student’s level of achievement is to make the history that they learn relevant to their lives. Whether this is through comparative examples – the genocide in Rwanda and the genocide against the Jews in the Holocaust; the crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries compared to the current conflicts in the Middle East – or by identifying the influence that Black and Asian people have had on key events in British history – the role of black abolitionists, the impact of Indian textile techniques on the textiles of the industrial revolution, the black chartists - all contribute to a sense of belonging and ownership of our collective history. One of the highlights of my year is hearing the response from students (of all races) to the events that have been organised for Black History Month every October. Students feel that their experience is being reflected in their school and their motivation and aspirations soar. If only this was an everyday experience.

Until recently the dearth of resources for teaching Black and Asian British History has meant that teachers have had to rely on their own interest in the topics to carry out the research and produce classroom material. Although there were obvious exceptions: Individuals such as Olaudah Equiano, Ignatius Sancho and Ottabah Cugoano have been more thoroughly documented. The BBC made a good schools programme on Equiano while individuals such as Martin Spafford and Marika Sherwood’s have produced excellent resource books including ‘Whose freedom were Africans, Caribbeans and Indians defending in World War II?’.

However a lack of resources is now no longer an acceptable reason for not teaching Black and Asian British history. The Internet has many excellent sites which offer fantastic resources for the classroom teacher. The National Archives, for example, has produced a very good resource for the presence of Black and Asian people in Britain before 1850:

http://www.pro.gov.u...story/index.htm
The National Archive, pathways to the past, Black presence: Asian and Black History in Britain 1500-1850.

http://www.lmal.org....avigationID=161
The London Museums Archives and Libraries Black History resources for schools.

http://www.irr.org.u...tory/index.html
The Institute for Race Relations Black History resources

http://www.be-me.org/body.asp
The Black and Ethnic Minority experience archive

Now is the time to address the fact that Black and Asian British history has been ‘hidden’ for too long and find a place for it at the heart of our curriculum.

#3 John Simkin

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Posted 21 January 2004 - 03:34 PM

I found this interesting article on Martin Luther King by Geov Parrish on the Working for Change website. It raises some interesting issues:

Let's not mince words. Were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive today, he would be at risk for being imprisoned indefinitely, without charges or access to legal counsel, as an "enemy combatant."

He would be decried, by powerful figures inside and outside government, as at worst a domestic terrorist, at best a publicity seeking menace whose criticisms of America gave comfort to our unseen enemies.

King would not have the opportunity to engage in repeated nonviolent civil disobediences. Media would be quickly bored by the spectacles; a nation accustomed to police violence against protesters yawns at the tanks, rubber bullets, chemical weapons, and "preventive" arrests now commonly used against those who employ the same tactics King himself once used. The felony charges against King would put him away for years – if he were allowed to stand trial at all.
The powerful black religious networks that produced King and so many other courageous civil rights leaders would be attacked by federal prosecutors as providing financial support for terrorism. Church groups' tax exemptions would be lifted; records would be seized. Charges would be brought, perhaps under federal RICO statutes or Patriot Act provisions. The FBI harassment that hounded King throughout his career would today be fiercer, and subject to no judicial oversight.
In an era where a federal holiday has served to both commemorate and sanitize the history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., white America has forgotten just how radical and controversial a figure he was in his time. Many of these charges – domestic terrorist, commie dupe, publicity hound – were leveled against King during the 14 long-but-so-short years of his national prominence. The police were violent. The church groups were criticized.

The differences, today, are twofold. First, our government has granted itself enormously greater legal powers to crush dissent. And, secondly, much of the public, taught by years of government rhetoric and media sensationalism to dismiss dissenters as violent and illegitimate, is predisposed to let the government get away with it. Moral appeals by leaders like King would have far less chance of success. We no longer grant presumed moral authority to either religious leaders or to those wronged by the world; in today's media-saturated, scandal-obsessed age, King's moral failings (e.g., his various affairs) might well be used to undermine his movement.

Moreover, today, we've heard it all before. The world is brought to our doorstep, teeming with suffering, each day. Sadly, as our planet's woes have become more immediate, and America's role in its inequalities more obvious to those who would look, many of us have chosen to tune out – out of fear, or boredom, or despair that we ordinary people can do little to change things.

Ordinary people can change the world, of course – King is one of our country's shining examples, still recent enough that many of us were alive during his lifetime. But as his holiday becomes sanitized, and his image becomes lionized beyond all recognition, it has become harder and harder to draw personal inspiration from his story – or his politics.

This year, even more than in the past, it has become essential to remember that King did far more than have a dream. Along with Mohandas Gandhi, he was one of the two most internationally revered symbols of nonviolence in the 20th century. He spent his adult life defying authority and convention, citing a higher moral authority. He gave hope and inspiration for the liberation of people of color on six continents.

King is not a legend because he believed in diversity trainings and civic ceremonies. He is remembered because he took serious risks and, as the Quakers say, spoke truth to power. Unfortunately, we don't hear his powerful indictments of poverty, the Vietnam War, and the military-industrial complex. Today, as American soldiers fight two major wars on the far side of the world, and the U.S. military wades quietly into a half dozen more – all in non-white countries – they're more timely than ever.

But it's not likely we'll hear much on the networks of King pronouncing the spiritual death of a country that would spend so much to kill and so little to help people live. That's a little too touchy nowaways.

http://www.workingfo...fm?itemid=16294

#4 John Simkin

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 08:06 AM

The 100 Great Black Britons were compiled as a response to the BBC Great Britons debate that took place last year. Patrick Vernon, founder of black heritage website Every Generation saw that no black people even made it to the Top 100, due in part to many people being unaware of black achievements and contributions made over the centuries.

http://www.100greatb...com/results.htm

The top ten voted by the British public:

1. Mary Seacole
2. Wilfred Wood/ O.A. Lyseight
3. Mary Prince
4. Olaudah Equiano
5. Queen Phillipa
6. Courtney Pine
7. Sir Bill Morris/Sir Trevor McDonald
8. Shirley Bassey
9. Bernie Grant
10. Professor Stuart Hall

This would have been my top ten. What's yours?

(1) Olaudah Equiano
http://www.spartacus...uk/Sequiano.htm

(2) William Cuffay
http://www.spartacus...uk/CHcuffay.htm

(3) Samuel Coleridge Taylor
http://www.spartacus...LAcoleridge.htm

(4) Mary Seacole
http://www.spartacus...k/REseacole.htm

(5) Walter Tull
http://www.spartacus....uk/FWWtull.htm

(6) C. L. James
http://www.spartacus...k/SLAjamesC.htm

(7) Robert Wedderburn
http://www.spartacus...Awedderburn.htm

(8) Leary Constantine
http://www.spartacus...constantine.htm

(9) Sylvester Williams
http://www.spartacus...LAwilliamsS.htm

(10) John Alcindor
http://www.spartacus...SLAalcindor.htm

#5 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 17 February 2004 - 05:26 PM

It was absolutely unbelievable that the original 100 greatest Britons was so dominated by DWM (dead white men!) and at least this goes a bit of a way to redress the balance. However, a list in itself is not going to do much to challenge the status quo of the English (and no doubt British) schools history curriculum. It would be interesting to know how inclusive the curriculum is in other countries.

As for a top ten here goes (it won't be much different I imagine)

1) Olaudah Equiano
2) Viv Anderson, Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis
5) Mary Seacole
6) Jazzie B
7) John Blanke
8) Baroness Scotland
9) Benjamin Zephaniah
10) Stephen, Neville and Doreen Lawrence

#6 Mike Tribe

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Posted 29 May 2004 - 07:41 PM

For example, in Spain particularly, are the Moorish invasions of the middle Ages considered?


The Spanish version of the NC, the Programa Oficial, mandates the study of Spanish history and geography in year 12. This is mostly 19th & 20th Century history. In year 13, it's Contemporary World History -- but that's mostly European history...

The Spanish have a bit of a problem with race issues: the Reconquista, the reconquest of Spain by Christian forces, and the conquest of the Americas are still seen as marking high points in Spanish history. Columbus, Cortes, Pizzaro, El Cid, Ferdinand and Isabel are national heroes which makes any close examination of what they actually did a bit difficult.

Spain is only now coming to terms with multiculturalism. 20 years ago, it was very unusual to see a black or brown face on the streets of Madrid. Immigration from North and sub-Saharan Africa has given rise to a lot of soul searching and to some disturbing signs of racism...

#7 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 31 May 2004 - 12:47 PM

Spain is only now coming to terms with multiculturalism. 20 years ago, it was very unusual to see a black or brown face on the streets of Madrid. Immigration from North and sub-Saharan Africa has given rise to a lot of soul searching and to some disturbing signs of racism...

I wonder if there have been any attempts to tackle issues of multiculturalism or racism in Spanish schools? I presume there is nothing like Black history Month or campaigns like Kick it out (racism in football)

Does the curriculum allow flexibility below year 12 - in English schools there is much more freedom now to develop the history curriculum and I have tried to introduce alot more multicultural history into the syllabi that I teach. Surely there must be scope for exploring the North African influence as Matthew Clarke mentioned.

Has there been a backlash after the Madrid bombings? I wonder how schools are dealing with these issues - as we know History is an excellent vehicle for discussing these kind of events and attitudes.

#8 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 03 October 2004 - 07:46 PM

On Friday I went with the 2 students that had been entered into the Black History Challenge quiz organised by the 100 Black Men of London. This was the first round of the contest and the boys had to answer 26 questions based on the book ' Staying Power' by Peter Fryer. Some of the questions were incredibly specific, for example 'can you name four African writers that were published in the 18th century'? I wonder how many of you could answer that?! My boys got that question correct (to a huge round of applause) and many others and ran out winners by 21-7. We are now through to the semi final at the British Museum on wednesday. I have to say that this was one of the proudest (and most important) days of my teaching career so far. The elation of the boys as they came off the stage and the euphoric feelings that were simply bubbling out of them as we walked back to the tube station was so special. These were not high fliers, these were young black men who were totally engaged in their history and proud to be able to show off their knowledge. I am sure that this experience will have such a positive effect on their future. We now have two and a half days of swotting left before the semis and (although unfortunately as I have another BHM event on the same day and won't be there to support them) we are in this to win this!


NB the answer to the question was Olaudah Equiano, Phyllis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho and Ottabah Cugoano you can read more about these amazing people here: http://www.spartacus...BlackPeople.htm

#9 John Simkin

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 06:45 AM

On Friday I went with the 2 students that had been entered into the Black History Challenge quiz organised by the 100 Black Men of London. This was the first round of the contest and the boys had to answer 26 questions based on the book ' Staying Power' by Peter Fryer. Some of the questions were incredibly specific, for example 'can you name four African writers that were published in the 18th century'? I wonder how many of you could answer that?! My boys got that question correct (to a huge round of applause) and many others and ran out winners by 21-7. We are now through to the semi final at the British Museum on wednesday. I have to say that this was one of the proudest (and most important) days of my teaching career so far. The elation of the boys as they came off the stage and the euphoric feelings that were simply bubbling out of them as we walked back to the tube station was so special. These were not high fliers, these were young black men who were totally engaged in their history and proud to be able to show off their knowledge. I am sure that this experience will have such a positive effect on their future. We now have two and a half days of swotting left before the semis and (although unfortunately as I have another BHM event on the same day and won't be there to support them) we are in this to win this!


NB the answer to the question was Olaudah Equiano, Phyllis Wheatley, Ignatius Sancho and Ottabah Cugoano you can read more about these amazing people here: http://www.spartacus...BlackPeople.htm

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Great story Dan. I am sure this has been a life-changing experience for your students. I have long believed that the best way of getting students enthusiastic historians is to help them become experts on a particular aspect of the subject. They should then be given the opportunity to communicate this knowledge to others. This builds up their confidence in their knowledge. (I am currently doing this with my grandson and although only four years old is already an expert in 19th century steam locomotives. This has led to him asking questions about related issues and is gradually giving him a more general interest in history).

One of the problems of classroom history is that it usually based on the idea of teachers asking questions. The students know the teacher already knows the answer. This is not very stimulating. It is far more satisfying to find out information that your teacher does not know. My grandson gets great pleasure from saying to me: “Did you know…” There is a marvellous scene in Barrie Hines’ book, Kes, when Billy Casper gives a talk on kestrels. For the first time Billy gets the opportunity to tell the class what he knows (rather than what he does not know).

For last year’s Black History Month I created a collection of biographies of black people from the UK. As part of this year’s activities I am willing to add to this list. Maybe your students could send me a list of people they would like to see featured on the website. Better still, maybe they should write biographies for your website.

http://www.spartacus...BlackPeople.htm

#10 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:10 PM

Thanks John for your kind words, I saw the boys today and they are still on cloud nine. The whole staff were informed and the boys had a day of compliments. Positivity is so important in education. I like your ideas about the website, I shall certainly run them pass the boys tomorrow when we meet to prepare for the semis. I am sure that this is less interesting for people who don't know my boys but you can see them on this page of my website: http://www.comptonhi...bhchallenge.htm

I gave an assembly today to start our celebrations for BHM, based on the Thierry Henry article in the Observer Sport Monthly magazine and linking it to the dedication and commitment shown by the boys who entered the competition. Next week I shall be talking about Walter Tull, the second black professional footballer (after Arthur Wharton) and the first black officer in the British Army, another fantastic role model for us all.

#11 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 04 October 2004 - 08:15 PM

Thanks John for your kind words, I saw the boys today and they are still on cloud nine. The whole staff were informed and the boys had a day of compliments. Positivity is so important in education. I like your ideas about the website, I shall certainly run them pass the boys tomorrow when we meet to prepare for the semis. I am sure that this is less interesting for people who don't know my boys but you can see them on this page of my website: http://www.comptonhi...bhchallenge.htm

I gave an assembly today to start our celebrations for BHM, based on the Thierry Henry article in the Observer Sport Monthly magazine and linking it to the dedication and commitment shown by the boys who entered the competition. Next week I shall be talking about Walter Tull, the second black professional footballer (after Arthur Wharton) and the first black officer in the British Army, another fantastic role model for us all.

#12 Shanet Clark

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 07:02 PM

Quoting John Simkin
(((((((((I have produced a list of annotated websites on Black History. These can be found at

http://www.spartacus...VhistoryRR3.htm

Other web links you might find useful include:

William Davidson
http://www.spartacus.../PRdavidson.htm
William Cuffay
http://www.spartacus...uk/CHcuffay.htm
Walter Tull
http://www.spartacus....uk/FWWtull.htm
Dadabhai Naoroji

Mancherjee Bhownaggree
http://www.spartacus....uk/PRbhown.htm
Mary Seacole
http://www.spartacus...k/REseacole.htm

Olaudah Equiano
http://www.spartacus...uk/Sequiano.htm

Ottabah Cugoano
http://www.spartacus...USAScugoano.htm
Zamba Zembola
http://www.spartacus...k/USASzamba.htm
Frederick Douglass
[url="http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASdouglass.htm"]http://www.spartacus...SASdouglass.htm


John, Equiano and Cugoano are critically important American writers, both slaves. I would place there value at the very top of cultural and literary history narratives... they should teach them in High School....

#13 Jim Hudson

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 05:07 PM

Sadly enough history teachers in the U.S. seem to concentrate most Black History in our contry during the month of Feb., as that is Black History Month. I have always tried to teach inclusion as history progresses, and not as a pull out for a one month celebration.

#14 John Simkin

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Posted 10 March 2005 - 01:30 PM

I am currently discussing this issue with two history teachers (?) on the TES History Forum.

1. It would appear eminently sensible for British pupils to learn about the way Britain impacted on the world. Our contribution has been pretty huge, for both good and ill. That's why we ought to spend half a term or so on the topic of the British Empire.

2. The reason I have no time for Aztecs, Amerindians, Black Peoples of the Americas, etc. is that we should have more than enough on our plates dealing with our own History. (Lionheart)


I am also in favour of spending a term on the British Empire. The problem is you would probably dislike the way I taught it. For example, I would look at the impact it had on those colonised by the British. Your view of the National Curriculum appears to be that we only concentrate on the UK. That seems to be a very unhealthy approach to history.

Surely one of the things that historians should be doing is showing how we in the UK are connected to other cultures. Can we for example, fully understand the struggle for equal rights in the UK without knowing about how other countries dealt with this problem. Will our students really understand the struggle for the vote without some knowledge of the French Revolution? How about how we lost the British Empire? Don’t we need to consider the activities of Gandhi in India? Are the activities of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X irrelevant to our students, white or black? They provide two different models of trying to obtain changes to the political situation (I accept that Malcolm X changed his views on this just before he was assassinated).

Of course you are right to argue that the educational establishment are united in the idea that students should study a variety of different cultures and histories. Sometimes there are good reasons why a consensus develops. Luckily, your views are only held by a few odd individuals and are therefore of no consequence.

Any attempt to make history 'relevant' and 'accessible' by skewing the syllabus towards the study of people with similar skin tones to those of your pupils is doomed. If they cannot celebrate (or repudiate) the feats and crimes of people who don't look like they do, it is unlikely that they will ever be engaged by history. Of course, it is difficult to blame the pupils. They don't set the units of study. Rather, it is the efforts of trendy-lefty 'educationalists' - still smarting from the beatings they endured when they were at school, and determined to appear 'cool' the second time around - that should be decried and lambasted whenever possible. (Lionheart)

It is not a question of “skewing the syllabus towards the study of people with similar skin tones”. The issue is whether we acknowledge the role that all groups have played in our history. Up until the recent past school history has neglected the role played by the working class, women and ethnic minorities in obtaining changes to our society. Therefore, when we study slavery and the slave trade we should look at the role played by people like Offobah Cugoano, Olaudah Equiano, Elizabeth Heyrick, Mary Lloyd, Elizabeth Pease, etc.

When we study the struggle for the universal suffrage we should study people like William Cuffay, Robert Wedderburn, Anne Knight, Mary Fildes, Thomas Spence, etc.

In the past it was very difficult to get teaching materials on these people (school textbook authors concentrated on the activities of upper and middle class white males). There is no excuse now. Just go to the search facility of my website and type in the names of these people. Feel free to copy and paste the material into your own worksheets.

http://www.spartacus...uk/PRsearch.htm

It is true I was caned at my secondary modern (sic) school. However, I don’t think it has had any impact on my attitude towards history teaching. Although the attempts by the school to brainwash me did have an influence on my career as a teacher.

It makes me angry to think that you wish to deny your students an appreciation of British history, because you wish to spend so much time on foreign events. I would predict the your Y9 pupils would fail to answer any of my specimen questions. I would wager that secretly you despise Britain and it has stood for. (Truronian)

The point I was trying to make was that you cannot have an appreciation of British history without a good understanding of other histories. That is one of the main reasons why the government has imposed the National Curriculum on teachers. Maybe you might want to suggest what percentage of the time allocated should be given to British history?

You are completely wrong to suggest that I “despise Britain”. In fact, I am very proud of a great deal of what my ancestors did to make the world a better place. That includes the roles my mother and father played in defeating fascism. I am also proud of my grandfather who was killed at the Battle of the Somme (although I would have preferred it if he had been a conscientious objector).

I am also very proud of those who campaigned against child labour, slavery, political corruption, inequality, racism, sexism, etc. It is true I am not very proud of those people from the UK who resisted all attempts at changing the status quo. That is the problem with being a conservative or reactionary, in the long run you always end up losing. As Leon Trotsky once said: "You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on into the dustbin of history!"

I expect you were probably caned at your school, unless your teachers were indulging in a particularly cruel punishment. (Cassander)

I don’t think it did me any long term damage. It did seem strange as my parents did not use corporal punishment at home. I cannot say whether the teachers were trying to be cruel or were getting some sexual pleasure from it. I did think that having boys caned on the stage in front of the whole school was pretty cruel. (Although that did not happen to me). In fact, I felt very sorry for the teachers in my school. It was not easy teaching in a secondary modern in Dagenham. The female teachers seemed to spend most of the time crying. Even most of the male teachers were too afraid of us to use corporal punishment. There were only a couple of teachers who could control us. This included a Mr Brown who claims he was a senior army officer during the Second World War. He said he was highly skilled in interrogation techniques and that he could make anyone cry just by looking into their eyes. I never saw him do this, but the threat worked because we all feared he might have been telling the truth. After all, the worse thing that could happen to you in my school was to cry in front of your friends.

#15 Paul Smith (2)

Paul Smith (2)

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 02:52 AM

As a Black Briton, I was always a little wary of explicit demonstrations of nationalism whilst growing up. As mentioned by some of the contributors earlier, nationalism can and does breed violence against the perceived 'other'....

I would like to comment on the type of 'History' that Black people are taught in Britain. Slavery and perhaps civil rights USA seem to be the only History Black people have.  Of course these topics are perhaps the most relevant for Black people in the' West' but I do not think it allows a sense of pride to be felt.  All people should be taught some aspects of History that help them to have pride in who they are and where they have come from.  Hence some focus should be given to Pre-European African history.  Not only would a focus on the ancient empires of Africa create a greater sense of self-worth for young Blacks, it would also allow European children to have a more balanced view of Black people.  The current social and economic status of Africa in the media only creates sympathy and unfortunately, ridicule of the role Black people have played in world history.

On this note I would like to ask the European contributors whether their countries consider the role of Black people in their History curriculum??  For example, in Spain particularly, are the Moorish invasions of the middle Ages considered?


On another thread I have raised the issue of cultural imperialism as it impacts on the working class. This is a far greater issue when looking at black history. As in English literature, the white middle/upper class have been given far too prominent role.

http://educationforu...p?showtopic=204

How then we can integrate black history into the curriculum? Teachers have several opportunities to look at the role black people played in events that appear on the traditional history curriculum.

For example, when looking at the struggle for equal rights you can study William Davidson and the Cato Street Conspiracy. He was also one of the first black man in Britain to be fitted up for a crime he probably did not commit and died a terrible death.

When studying the struggle for the vote it is also important to look at the case of the Chartist William Cuffay. Like Davidson he was fitted up by the government and was deported to Tasmania for 21 years. When he was released he became involved in radical politics and trade union issues and played an important role in persuading the authorities to amend the Master and Servant Law in the colony.

The First World War provides another opportunity to study black heroes. Walter Tull, joined Tottenham Hotspur in 1908 and therefore became only the second black man to play professional football in Britain. The first was Arthur Walton, the Preston goalkeeper.

On the outbreak of the First World War Tull immediately abandoned his career and offered his services to the British Army. The Army soon recognised Tull's leadership qualities and he was quickly promoted to the rank of sergeant. In 1917 he became first ever black officer in the British Army. 2nd Lieutenant Tull was killed while leading an attack across No Mans Land in 1918.

It is also worth looking at the careers of Britain’s first black MPs: Dadabhait Naorji (Finsbury, 1892-1895) and Mancherjee Bhownaggree (Bethnal Green, 1895-1906).

I believe it is important that we should challenge the way that history has been represented in the past. For example, when studying Florence Nightingale we should also look at Mary Seacole. Nightingale is often used as a way of showing how women could make their mark in a male dominated society. However, her story also tells us a great deal about race and class.

Mary Seacole, an expert on disease, travelled from Jamaica to England in 1853 when she heard about the cholera epidemic that had emerged during the Crimean War. Her offer of help was rejected by the British Army. Soon afterwards, Florence Nightingale, who had little practical experience of cholera, was chosen to take a team of thirty-nine nurses to treat the sick soldiers. Mary Seacole now applied to join Nightingale's team but was once again rejected.

Unwilling to accept defeat, Mary paid for her own trip to the Crimea and started up a business called the British Hotel, a few miles from the battlefront. Here she sold food and drink to the British soldiers. With the money she earned from her business Mary was able to finance the medical treatment she gave to the soldiers.

It is very important that when studying black history they are not portrayed as victims. A classic example of this is the topic of slavery. Nearly all school textbooks feature the role played by William Wilberforce in this struggle. Very few of these authors point out that until just before he died Wilberforce was in favour of slavery (he was a campaigner against the slave-trade which is not the same thing although most textbook authors think it is). As Wilberforce pointed out in a pamphlet that he wrote in 1807: "It would be wrong to emancipate (the slaves). To grant freedom to them immediately, would be to insure not only their masters' ruin, but their own. They must (first) be trained and educated for freedom."

Textbook authors also give the impression that Wilberforce was motivated by a sense of religious morality. In fact, Wilberforce had been converted to the campaign by Adam Smith who argued that capitalists could obtain higher profits from free workers than slaves (Smith provided plenty of examples from the costs of production of sugar, etc. throughout the British Empire).

Although it is important to study Wilberforce when dealing with the slave trade it is also important to look at the role of others like Elizabeth Heyrick (Wilberforce refused to allow women hold senior positions in the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade), Olaudah Equiano, Ottabah Cugoano and Zamba Zembola. It is also worth looking at those freed slaves from the United States who travelled to England to campaign against slavery. For example, people like Frederick Douglass, a great role model for young blacks.

I have produced a list of annotated websites on Black History. These can be found at

http://www.spartacus...VhistoryRR3.htm

Other web links you might find useful include:

William Davidson

http://www.spartacus.../PRdavidson.htm

William Cuffay

http://www.spartacus...uk/CHcuffay.htm

Walter Tull

http://www.spartacus....uk/FWWtull.htm

Dadabhai Naoroji

http://www.spartacus...k/PRnaoroji.htm

Mancherjee Bhownaggree

http://www.spartacus....uk/PRbhown.htm

Mary Seacole

http://www.spartacus...k/REseacole.htm

Olaudah Equiano

http://www.spartacus...uk/Sequiano.htm

Ottabah Cugoano

http://www.spartacus...USAScugoano.htm

Zamba Zembola

http://www.spartacus...k/USASzamba.htm

Frederick Douglass

http://www.spartacus...SASdouglass.htm

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As an American I am intrigued by this discussion n for a couple of reasons. First, the concept here is that black history is strictly an American phenomenon. I look forward to using the new info to expand my schools knowledge of Black History. We should not forget their impact upon the Caribbean history. If it were not for the rebellion of Toussaint L’Overutre’s revolution against the French in Hatti in Louisiana history classes and U.S. History it is presented as an important factor in Napoleon’s decision to sell the territory to the U.S. how is it viewed in Europe? I always point to the fact the British could have taken the territory from the French. :)




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