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To think this was an inappropriate school task

(501 Posts)
Lalalabrador Wed 20-Jan-21 20:59:43

My year 8 daughter was asked to write an essay today on the question How did India benefit from colonialism and how was it harmed by it? I’m pretty gobsmacked. I’m a professional historian and sad that something so intellectually bankrupt is being taught to young people.

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Confrontayshunme Wed 20-Jan-21 21:03:35

I would think that is a pretty well-rounded question that wouldn't be hard to answer after even a cursory google.

3JsMa Wed 20-Jan-21 21:03:50

Can I ask why are you gobsmacked that children need to learn about history?Perhaps question was not worded properly but I think it important for younger generations to learn about it.

echt Wed 20-Jan-21 21:05:02

YABU for not explaining what you mean by "intellectually bankrupt".

JulieJJ Wed 20-Jan-21 21:05:09

What's the issue?

RhodaDendron Wed 20-Jan-21 21:06:18

Yanbu, that’s a retrograde way of approaching the subject.

HappyFlamingo Wed 20-Jan-21 21:06:27

Do you mean because you don't think you should talk about any benefits of colonialism? I don't think that's a very balanced view - it's ok to discuss some benefits, even if they were hugely outweighed by the downsides.

daisypond Wed 20-Jan-21 21:06:28

What’s the problem with that question? Am I missing something? I must be.

Terracottasaur Wed 20-Jan-21 21:06:52

What question would you have preferred?

Puddinger Wed 20-Jan-21 21:07:00

How did India benefit from colonialism? Like what kind of answer could they possibly anticipate?

Ylvamoon Wed 20-Jan-21 21:10:28

I think it's a good question that will have her think about a country pre, during and post British rule.
It's not straight forward or black and white. There are many layers to the question and answers.
Like everything else in history, it's very complex indeed.

GreyWall Wed 20-Jan-21 21:10:35

It's balanced. Pros and cons of which there are both. What's the problem?

EarringsandLipstick Wed 20-Jan-21 21:12:34

I've a background in history too. I think it's a balanced question.

What's a 'professional' historian and what does 'intellectually bankrupt' actually mean?

plg21 Wed 20-Jan-21 21:12:37

I'm pretty sure my son wrote a similar essay in Y8. I didn't have an issue with the way the history teacher taught it.

Lalalabrador Wed 20-Jan-21 21:14:09

India did not benefit from colonialism. There is no for or against colonialism. There ‘weren’t good people on both sides’. I want my daughter to learn the truth about the British Empire not a skewed, jingoistic myth of a Britain generously bestowing ‘civility’ on the poor ‘savages’ of the colonies.

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Porcupineintherough Wed 20-Jan-21 21:14:18

Sounds pretty thought provoking to me. What's the problem?

TheMobileSiteMadeMeSignup Wed 20-Jan-21 21:15:32

Surely then your kid writes an essay to say there were no benefits and gives reasoned arguments.

Lalalabrador Wed 20-Jan-21 21:15:38

@EarringsandLipstick I earn my living from practising history. I conduct research and publish papers and books.

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MillieEpple Wed 20-Jan-21 21:15:53

I think the question makes it sound like the benefits and problems are equal and balanced. If i was a child answering it i'd be expecting 1/3 marks for benefits 1/3 marks for problems and 1/3 for a coclusion where i could give my opinion.

I know nothing about india but my guess is there were more issues than benefits

OppsUpsSide Wed 20-Jan-21 21:16:00

But the question also asks ‘how was it harmed...’ ?

Porcupineintherough Wed 20-Jan-21 21:16:00

Ah, so you want her to make her own mind up - but only from the parts you provide.

If she concludes there were no benefits to colonialism she can say that, surely.

Plussizejumpsuit Wed 20-Jan-21 21:17:18

I recently did a course via future learn on colonialodm. A very similar question Was one of the tasks. Surely if you're a historian you should know answering a question like this teaches critical thinking and debating/ argument skills.

It would be very simplistic to list the many awful things that happened. But pupils will hear counter arguments. Eg talking to an older relative they may say but what about the railways? You know the type of thing. So it actually makes the negative more powerful.

It also enables the children to form their own decisions through looking ta the facts. It would be really hard to come to the conclusion the overall net outcome was a benefit to India!

So Yabu in my opinion

GreyWall Wed 20-Jan-21 21:17:20

@Lalalabrador yabu. There were short term and local benefits. I'm not suggesting for a second they outweigh the costs and that the costs went into for longer but they were there. You can't make history what you want it to be. If she's got a decent teacher hopefully they will say this.

chomalungma Wed 20-Jan-21 21:18:09

There is a view amongst some people that colonialism was a good thing for India and we can never discuss the downsides.
Discuss this view with evidence.
You might like to reference a wide range of sources including non British sources.

Is that better?

Lalalabrador Wed 20-Jan-21 21:18:44

@MillieEpple that’s it I think. The teacher asked for a ‘balanced argument’.

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