Advanced search

Decolonising the curriculum

(70 Posts)
Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 16:05:15

Hi, I just want your thoughts on the subject as I feel that if there were more diverse material included that this could help the underachievers especially black children maybe as I’ve seen a lot of research done where Eurocentric education does not necessarily help black children achieve?

OP’s posts: |
imustadmithehassomeflare Mon 05-Aug-19 16:07:47

What sort of material do you have in mind?
What's your sense of how the NC is Eurocentric and in what way would you like that to change?
I was under the impression that the group of children who most greatly underachieve at school is white working class boys - is that old data?

Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 16:10:48

A large group of black pupils are underachieving and even more are being permanently excluded from school. I thought that maybe if we teach them material that reflects them in a positive way this may have an impact of their school performance?

OP’s posts: |
Comefromaway Mon 05-Aug-19 16:22:29

Is this large group in an area/school you know personally or are you talking nationally? I had heard the same as imustadmit and that its white working class boys who underachieve the most at school. it's very anecdotal but most families I know of from balck african/carribean heritage are families that value education highly and their children tend to be high achievers.

Taking the most obvious subject of history, in Britain it is understandable and indeed desirable that a lot of time is devoted to British history. European history is generally studies from a British viewpoint/how events in Europe affected Britain.

but taking the primary curriculum, the topics that children study are Pre Roman & Roman History, Anglo Saxons, Scots & Vikings, Local History, Ancient Civilisations (teachers often chose one to study n more depth such as Egypt or China, Ancient Greece & Non European Study such as Early Islamic, Mayan or West African.

The secondary curriculum tends to be thematic eg (church and state) & students often study things such as the holocaust, the French revolution, Indian independance or the American War of Independance. You can;t cover everything and British history has to be the emphasis as it is important to understand the cause and effect of things in British society.

MargeryB Mon 05-Aug-19 16:24:20

I would agree. The primary curriculum as my kids have done it is very white - Vikings, Stone Age, Saxons, Home Front, Titanic, London Vs Paris, Great Fire of London, Victorian school.

Comefromaway Mon 05-Aug-19 16:27:02

Taking an arts subject such as music, for GCSE children study baroque and classical music, pop music including Broadway, rock music and film music, Traditional music including Blues, African/Carribean fusion, Latin & British folk music, & Modern Classical Music since 1910.

Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 16:32:16


Fabric softener
Spring onion

Frozen sweet corn
I totally understand that we must respect the history of the country we are in however the UK, London especially, is so culturally diverse I think this should be represented within the school curriculum. At the moment I don’t feel the large number of students from an ethnic background are represented which could be the reason for poor performance and high exclusion rates ...

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Mon 05-Aug-19 16:32:28

The worst performing group at schools in England is white working class boys so if a white-centred curriculum is failing to engage them, it’s not clear that a ‘decolonised’ curriculum would positively impact underachieving black students.

The top performing groups in England are Chinese and Indian students so lack of ethnic minority representation doesn’t seem to be that important for attainment.

That said, more diversity in educational materials in schools would be a positive move, just not as an simple attempt to raise achievement.

Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 16:34:06

Ignore the shopping list I forgot I had copied it earlier haha!

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Mon 05-Aug-19 16:40:04

I think teaching how/why all the immigration happened (for example people being positively encouraged to come to rebuild the 'mother country', and how highly qualified many were etc) could benefit everyone.

Plus a greater variety of individuals (not all white men) would be good.

Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 17:12:07

Black Caribbean students are underachieving more compared to white children. And how do we know if decolonising the curriculum won’t help if it hasn’t been done before. We can’t just base it off the premise that a colonised curriculum isn’t helping white students... there needs to be more repression of the population in the curriculum

OP’s posts: |
SleeplessWB Mon 05-Aug-19 17:17:51

There has been some research done on this and it does seem to suggest that a decolonised curriculum could help to better engage black students in particular. There are also issues around the topics taught which relate to black history for example slavery and the fact that these often show black peoples as victims. Black carribean boys in particular do underperform as well as white working class boys.

noblegiraffe Mon 05-Aug-19 17:48:58

Black Caribbean students are underachieving more compared to white children

But when you look at subgroups, white working class boys are performing worse.

Changing the curriculum to try to engage disaffected learners is a tricky one. Like I said, if it were under-representation of ethnic minorities that were the real issue, why are Chinese children massively outperforming the group that the curriculum supposedly centres?

English teachers like @piggywaspushed will be well aware of how attempts to engage boys in English literature with male dominated books and themes like war haven’t solved the massive issue with boys’ literacy at all.

titchy Mon 05-Aug-19 18:01:06

And Black African heritage students perform far better! A blanket theory of DtC doesn't work particularly well. It's far more nuanced than that.

Mumknowsbest101 Mon 05-Aug-19 18:21:03

Maybe Chinese children are thriving as they aren’t represented in the media as ‘thugs’ or in academia as slaves...

OP’s posts: |
lljkk Mon 05-Aug-19 18:33:58

There are some pretty nasty stereotypes about Chinese people, too, not hard to find if you want to find. Ditto Indians.

Although black kids are excluded a lot the group that gets most excluded are gypsy/travellers (60%+ higher rate than black kids). How could Traveller culture be better represented in a positive way?

lljkk Mon 05-Aug-19 18:34:58

It's just one kid of black kid getting lots of exclusions.

noblegiraffe Mon 05-Aug-19 18:47:02

Maybe Chinese children are thriving as they aren’t represented in the media as ‘thugs’ or in academia as slaves...

I think the usual explanation is a family and cultural background with extremely high expectations regarding education and aspirations.

titchy Mon 05-Aug-19 19:14:10

Black Africans are represented in the media as from slave backgrounds as much as Black Caribbean's but the African origin kids have far better achievement rates - see lljkk's post.

As I said before it's far more nuanced - decolonising the curriculum isn't the killer solution you think it is.

SayNoToCarrots Mon 05-Aug-19 19:44:55

First generation brits of Caribbean and African heritage tend to have parents who have very high expectations. It is those who have lived in a society that regards them as low achieving who have lower expectations of their children.

noblegiraffe Mon 05-Aug-19 20:23:05

I think there is a dip in attainment for the second generation for all immigrants (remembering some Australian research I read years ago). The high expectations and work ethic for the first generation come from having the sort of parents with the get up and go to emigrate and make something of themselves in a new country.

justicewomen Tue 06-Aug-19 08:09:25

This is an award winning set of history teaching resources developed to assist in teaching history from a migration perspective.

Piggywaspushed Tue 06-Aug-19 08:46:40

Interesting thread. Thanks for tagging me noble. Efforts are made in the English curriculum but it is very rather token and actually in my opinion has done more accidentally to 'other' some racial groups.. I do find the history curriculum very narrow, even more so since Gove did his dabbling. It is astonishing what 15 years olds do and do not know. Anecdotally, girls are just more open minded than boys and all they years of SATs and GCSE papers being written with a 'boy focus' have not significantly increased boys' attainment or narrowed the gap. This has actually led to a problem , th9ugh, with positive female representations at GCSE which is pale, male. stale in lit and sees Language papers full of positive representations of young men and their typical interests.

I think - or hope- movements to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds into teaching will make a bigger difference in the end.

Piggywaspushed Tue 06-Aug-19 08:51:44

I honestly thought your shopping list was trying to make some kind of point!

On the subject of travellers, each council used to have a traveller community education advocate . I live in a big traveller county and met ours a few times. Her efforts to engage travellers in education were often a bit futile but there were some really interesting materials produced. The racism towards travellers in rife and shocking and sadly very overt. Occasional MN threads pop up which are so far from typical MN political sensibilities it's quite shocking (or it is unless you see how my local community respond to travellers on FB!) .

But , yes, OP, statistically, it is not black children who are hugely underachieving. It is a subgroup of boys within both the white and black communities.

Piggywaspushed Tue 06-Aug-19 08:54:24

OP, I take it you meant more representation in the curriculum not repression?! grin

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in