Diversifying the curriculum: one department’s holistic approach

Teaching History article

By Theo Woods, published 15th July 2021

Diversifying the curriculum: one department’s holistic approach

In this article, Theo Woods shares the experience of one history department as they embarked on a substantial process of curriculum review and development. The department sought to address concerns that the range of history taught in their school, across the full seven years of students’ secondary experience, was too ‘traditional, White and Eurocentric’. Woods outlines the range of arguments that prompted her team to take action and the principles that they developed to underpin the construction of a geographically broad, culturally diverse and academically challenging curriculum. She also explains how they tackled the various challenges that they encountered, not least the development of their own subject knowledge. While the article includes an outline of their current curriculum structure, its essential value lies in the insights that it offers into collaborative processes of curriculum renewal and the range of resources that can support such an approach.

In June 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the subsequent momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the growing debate around Whiteness in the National Curriculum, I was contacted by a number of concerned staff and parents, asking about what exactly was taught in the history classrooms at our school. While an outline of this information was available on our website (as is the case for most schools), those who contacted me clearly wanted both to know more and to start a dialogue – one in which I was more than happy to participate. In fact, I was thrilled that colleagues and parents were paying closer attention to a curriculum that my team and I had worked hard to shape over the previous few years, and of which we were very proud. Not because the curriculum we taught was perfect, or utterly different to what was taught elsewhere, or in fact ‘finished’; but because it was an outline of learning that was being consciously crafted on the basis of explicit principles, with careful consideration of the holistic learning experience of our diverse community of students...

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