Decolonising sources: helping Year 9 pupils critically evaluate colonial sources

Teaching History article

By Danielle Donaldson, published 7th July 2023

Using ‘weapons of the weak’ to help Year 9 pupils critically evaluate colonial sources

Danielle Donaldson’s history department was already working within a professional culture that sought opportunities for making the history curriculum diverse and representative. Responding to wider debates within and beyond the history education community, however, the department began to ask fresh questions about what it meant to decolonise a curriculum. Donaldson wanted to equip pupils with a more active and critical way of challenging dominant narratives.  Drawing on the work of Priya Atwal and other historians, Donaldson and colleagues eventually settled on a new enquiry about the Sikh ruler, Maharani Jind Kaur.  This included a new strategy for close reading of sources, ‘weapons of the weak’, for which Donaldson drew on a way of studying everyday forms of resistance developed by anthropologist James C. Scott...

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