Decolonising the Curriculum – by Good Morning Ms Foster
When I was growing up it was normal to say I was ‘half cast’. It was normal to repeatedly ask someone where they are from and why they look a certain way. I wasn’t mad but I was confused. I, like thousands of children, was in the minority. I was not white caucasian which meant I was different. I didn’t get the privilege of mapping out a potential career path as a princess, because no princesses looked like me. Nor did I find a connection with the protagonists within story-time or school plays. I didn’t have a dolly that looked like me and the only crayon for skin colour was peach. The education system was not created for me. It was created for the majority. In our education system, the darker your skin becomes, the less representation you receive.
Let’s press fast forward 20 years and this conversation is still just happening. Some of these changes may only have happened in your settings in the last year. This is not to place judgement, this is to show you how we are at the very tip of the iceberg and we have a hell of a long way to go. The problem is, many of you reading this will not be personally impacted by this at all. When a system is built for you, it can be difficult to pick it apart. It is an ongoing process of understanding and taking action. Ultimately, every single child deserves to feel a sense of belonging and deserves to receive a curriculum that they can connect with. Every single child deserves to be represented. Period. I am so excited to be able to create action in this space and I am beyond thankful for this partnership with PlanBee.
You may be wondering what decolonisation means. It may be that you’ve heard it a few times now and are too polite to ask. Boo I got you. Let’s peel this back to the basics and get into it. Did you know that our education system was created during the industrial revolution of the 19th century? The Victorians, the Victorian empire, ring a bell? Of course! We were all taught about the mighty Victorians. But were you taught about how they colonised countries? That bit always seems to get glossed over am I right? Our education system dates back to a period in time where British people felt they were superior in the world. Britain was king. A time where taking a country by force and creating slaves was the norm.
Throughout the years, our curriculum has received countless updates and new demands but the core issue remains. Think of it as changing your glasses: the frames may reflect the current trends but the lens never changes. Our curriculum is built with a whitewashed lens and the only way to create a curriculum that reflects our society is to rethink, reframe and reconstruct. If you’re questioning the validity of that. Ask yourself this: did you ever learn the word colonial in Primary School? It was purposefully omitted wasn’t it? So how do we begin to decolonise as educators?
Question the curriculum we are teaching, question the way we are teaching it, question it out loud and unashamedly. Make conscious decisions to take action. This is within the clip art you share in your slides by ensuring they reflect all races. This is the way you set up your continuous provision so that there are toys of different races. This is the books you choose for you book corner or core texts. For example, Scholastic have a ‘Voices’ series which shares true stories from different races in history. Did you know there was a black circus owner in the Victorian times? It must reflect in the content you teach. We must all work to deliver a decolonised curriculum. Support those who are doing that, support platforms like @theblackcurriculum, @everydayracism_, @thehistorycorridor and @theconsciouskid. Only when we engage with others doing the work, will we be able to learn and take action.
This partnership with PlanBee is one that is personal and passionately driven. Follow our journey to decolonise the curriculum together, one unit at a time. Sign up to our mailing list below and join the movement.