Decolonise, don’t diversify: enabling a paradigm shift in the KS3 history curriculum

Teaching History article

By Dan Lyndon-Cohen, published 15th July 2021

Decolonise, don’t diversify: enabling a paradigm shift in the KS3 history curriculum

In this article, Dan Lyndon-Cohen makes the case that history departments should move from diversifying the curriculum to decolonising it. After reflecting on some examples of how he made the content of his lessons more representative, he explores how the influence of writers such as Michel-Rolph Trouillot and Emma Dabiri inspired him to find practical ways to bring marginalised voices into the classroom.

In 2006, in my article in Teaching History 122, I made the case for a series of short bursts of relevant black history dripped into the curriculum at the appropriate moment. Recent developments, however, would suggest that now is the right time for further reflection. These developments include the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the toppling of the Colston statue and many student calls for wider representation in their  curricula. This article will explore how the history department at Park View School, where I currently teach, has started to address both aspects of the pertinent question, raised above, by one of our Year 7 students. I will demonstrate a range of ways in which at least some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw have been discovered. I will also share some of the strategies that we have started to embed in our practice, and which empower our students to make, as Samantha Cutrara has it, transformative change for themselves. Finally, I will argue that in order to make substantive change, history departments should decolonise their curriculum rather than diversify it...

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