Jump to content
The Education Forum

new resources on blackhistory4schools.com


Dan Lyndon
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have recently been sent some fantastic resources that I have added to blackhistory4schools.com:

The Tobacco Trade - an online research unit about the links between Britain, Africa and the US looking at the growth of the Tobacco industry, written by John Siblon.

Whose freedom? - Martin Spafford and Marika Sherwood wrote this excellent book about the contributions that African, Asian and Caribbean Soldiers made during the Second World War, and now the resources are available to download here.

You can also read about the preparations that are underway for Black History Month on the Black History Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have recently been sent some fantastic resources that I have added to blackhistory4schools.com:

The Tobacco Trade - an online research unit about the links between Britain, Africa and the US looking at the growth of the Tobacco industry, written by John Siblon.

Whose freedom? - Martin Spafford and Marika Sherwood wrote this excellent book about the contributions that African, Asian and Caribbean Soldiers made during the Second World War, and now the resources are available to download here.

You can also read about the preparations that are underway for Black History Month on the Black History Blog

Dan, have you read the comments from Sharon Foster, the black author of last night's BBC drama, Shoot the Messenger. In last week's TES she argued that white teachers in Britain should stop teaching special lessons on black history. She also claimed that white teachers should not take part in such initiatives as Black History Month in October. Foster said: "I think black history is the black community's prerogative... If black parents think their children need it so bad, they should give it to them themselves."

This is not a new argument. This was the view of the Black Power movement in the 1960s. I was attacked in the early 1980s for writing books on black history by a London teacher's group. Their view was that white teachers should leave this subject alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I missed that John - I tried to search for it on the TES website but couldn't find the quote you mentioned. Like you I have had the same kind of comments, most notoriously on a BBC Radio London debate, when I was heckled by members of the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (only to be supported by the Nation of Islam of all people!). I would be delighted if there were more Black history teachers and I would be even more delighted if I was helping to create future Black history teachers. When that happens I will happily retire, mission accomplished, until then I will continue to promote equality in the history classroom, as you and others like you have done.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I missed that John - I tried to search for it on the TES website but couldn't find the quote you mentioned. Like you I have had the same kind of comments, most notoriously on a BBC Radio London debate, when I was heckled by members of the Pan Africanist Youth Congress (only to be supported by the Nation of Islam of all people!). I would be delighted if there were more Black history teachers and I would be even more delighted if I was helping to create future Black history teachers. When that happens I will happily retire, mission accomplished, until then I will continue to promote equality in the history classroom, as you and others like you have done.

I am afraid the TES does not put its newspaper online.

I agree with you that in an ideal world black teachers would be producing materials on the subject. However, until this happens, white radicals have a duty to play a role in this process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of this argument seems at best confusing. Whilst I would consider the absence of teaching specifically black history in an equal and just society without (a history of) racial tension etc and where teaching of history included the history of the whole society (regardless of colour, gender.........) a magnificent achievement, it isn't a realistic option.

I'm not really a fan of teaching black history because I'd like the experience, influence etc of black people (and all currently marginalised people) to be part of all the history that was taught, but that would be an 'ideal world' approach. Offering a critique of the marginalisation process as part of the history that makes black history an issue might benefit many.

I am minded of the flak Dan L received over his website, which is a powerful argument FOR teaching black history, and evidence that the ideal world isn't here. It follows that teaching black history is essential. THe same should be said for gender history.

If "white teachers" should leave black history alone, would the reverse be true? An evident nonsense.

I agree in an ideal world we would not be teaching “black history” or “women’s history”. However, until the introduction of the National Curriculum, all the main educational publishers virtually ignored the role played by blacks and women. Even now, the tendency is to portray them as helpless victims. My intention in producing teaching materials on these subjects was to show the positive and active role that blacks and women played in history. For example, even now, teaching materials on slavery still tend to over-emphasize the role that middle-class white males played in the anti-slavery movement. Women and blacks are rarely mentioned in this campaign against slavery.

Interestingly, I did not intend to become involved in producing teaching materials on “black history” or “women’s history”. I initially was concerned with showing the positive role that working-class played in history (another group that are still largely ignored in history textbooks). This eventually led onto looking at other groups who had suffered at the hands of our “white masters”.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The need for (remedial) Black History seems to me to have arisen from the political climate of the early eighties.

When I started teaching in this country, in Basildon, some time before the arrival of the National Curriculum, a neighbouring all-white comprehensive school had a brilliant Coloured South African Head of Humanities. (One wonders whether he, as a Cape Coloured, would be acceptable to Sharon Foster as a teacher of Black History!) The point is he was a good (Marxist) historian. His history syllabus had its own take on Progress, a strong sense of chronology – the entire timespan of human history - and its geographical arena was the entire world. Overall it told a story, and one that made some sense of the world that the pupils, or some of them, knew they were living in. (Naturally I pinched this syllabus when I moved from a red bit of Essex to a blue bit.)

By contrast QCA seems not totally clear which planet it lives on, assuring parents on its website that in KS3 their children will learn about Britain and ‘the wider world’. Why ‘wider’? Maybe I’m being picky but the phrase seems vague just where precision is called for. It brings to mind the maps that gang members in Los Angeles will draw of the world when asked, with detail of the local environment only. The cartoonists would have us believe that President Bush works with a similar map. But then don’t we all to some extent? And isn’t the whole point of education to prepare students for the world in which they are living?

The problem was, and still is, the original History National Curriculum. The alacrity with which many schools seized on ‘The Black Peoples of the Americas’ demonstrates it wasn’t all bad. But at the very time when many schools were developing new and open-ended approaches to the teaching of history the National Curriculum actually gave little encouragement to schools to give pupils a world or multi-racial view. Had they done so, I don’t believe Black History would have become an ‘issue’ – it would just have been taught

At that crucial period in the development of the History Syllabus, with the introduction of the National Curriculum, schools were pre-occupied with preparing pupils for (the initially threatened) History SATS. No wonder thematic world history approaches were abruptly dropped in favour of discrete units of mainly British History. No wonder the later bland assurances of OFSTED inspectors that the History Schemes of Work were very flexible were duly ignored. The climax of these changes was at GCSE and AS/A2, where the relentless pressure for more British History has resulted in a nationalistic syllabus, worthy of a fascist state.

History teachers are endlessly resourceful, for example continuing to use ‘Empathy’ despite the fact that it was banned and banished. We find our way around daft ideas, and we perhaps underestimate our influence. The thought occurs that maybe the story of world history put over with such flair in Basildon in the early 70’s will still have an influence now those pupils are voters.

I blame the Thatcher government who insisted on radical changes in History in the 1980’s. The moment a junior minister announced that it was important that all children learned about important dates ‘like the Battle of Trafalgar in 1815’ I knew we were in for a hard time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...