As I make common knowledge, I aspire to become a history teacher. A dream would be to teach at the same school that I went to, that being Campion School in Bugbrooke. History means soooo much to me, and I owe so much to my history teachers, Mrs Hird and Mr McGeown. Absolute legends the pair of them. Also a shoutout to the Campion legend and veteran that was Mr Perkins. Love to you all. However, what did I actually learn in history? This is not to say that I didn't learn anything, but I'm thinking more about what content did I learn? From what I can recall, I did the Romans in Year 7 and 1066? I definitely did 1066 (I'm English so its like standard content), then the slave trade in Year 8 for like a term I think? OH and the Tudors too, plus the Civil War (we called it the English Civil War, it took university to it be made clear that this was actually the Wars of the Three Kingdoms). Anyways, GCSE was Vietnam War (coursework), Russia, Cold War and Britain. A-Level was Italy, Germany and Britain yet again. Obviously I didn't study the entire histories of these countries, but this is just to show, geographically I guess what/where we studied.
The history that I actually attained my school qualifications in was all European and American. And I mean the American aspect was the Vietnam War and that was a piece of coursework. Basically, it was not very wide in terms of the geographic space it covered nor in the breadth of time it covered. I had to wait for university to see the true diversity of topics that you can study. With regards to the British content, I remember my exam for the British topic (GCSE) being on the Battle of Britain, and my A-level British exam was based on the British experience of warfare. I didn't so much learn about the British Empire specifically at school, but I did do the world wars. Anyways, there wasn't much on the history of the Black community in Britain, nor about the evils that Britain has perpetrated in the past. That is not to say that there wasn't any included. I remember we learnt (at A-level) about the Boer War (1899-1902) and touched a little on the concentration camps and the Hobhouse Commission, but that's the only really negative aspect of Britain specifically that I can remember learning about. Yes, I did do slavery in Year 8, and while that is a topic that is highly important to learn about, why cant we study this at GCSE or A-level?? Maybe you can now, back in 2015 at my school we didn't.
I want to be able to teach a history curriculum that is more representative of our past and which compliments contemporary issues. Yes, we can still study the world wars, but we should teach students more than the key battles. How many students learn about the experience of black troops in the Great War, or of the actions of the Indian army? Im not saying that we simply replace the Somme with these examples, but rather we should try to show the diversity of these conflicts too. The same should apply for World War II. How about also learning more about British imperialism in schools at exam-level. It would surely be useful for students to learn about the nature of empire, its "gifts" and "benefits" that it gave to the world, but also about how it impacted the numerous cultures it encountered. Recently I just casually read about the British response to the Mau Mau Uprising which occurred in Kenya in the 1950s. The British response to the rebels was brutal and in many ways inhumane. For a start on this conflict, just go to the Wikipedia article about it, its fascinating an a great introduction. Then you'll see what torture techniques were used, and what the Pipeline and Villagisation was.
I don't understand the idea that students are too young to study such issues. I see that it is a disservice to not teach students that Britain isn't always the good guy. The curriculum needs to be more diverse. If history serves the present, then surely it must match what Britain looks like. We certainly aren't just a white country or empire. We are a cosmopolitan state with a culture which has been created over thousands of years. A culture that has been formed from multiple groups and which continues to be influenced by the various peoples that make up our country. Also, shouldn't we teach our students about how we have treated minorities in the past? And about how they fought to get equality? This just doesn't has to be in this country, we can increase the amount of Civil Rights that is taught, Apartheid in South Africa and the history of race in this country. History is full of stories where the oppressed protest and fight for their fights, peacefully, violently and in diverse ways. History does show us unity too!! Learning about the year 2020 will hopefully show us and them as much. Students should be encouraged by the past and their education to go out there and change the world, to fight injustice and for what they believe in! This is certainly what 2020 has been teaching and inspiring me to do.
As I titled another article/post, and I am sorry if I am repeating myself here, I just write what is on my mind, history matters TO ALL.
Things to do: (These petitions may no longer be active when you read this, but if they are then please sign!)
>A petition to Amend the national history curriculum in the UK-Include more lessons about Racism and British History.
>Make Black History Compulsory in Schools!
>The wikipedia article on the Mau Mau Uprising.