Hello Augusta, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog! Tell us a bit about how History is taught in your school?
There isn't nearly as much history taught in my school as I would like! The truth is that due to the pressures of SATs the vast majority of time is spent on English and Maths.
How would you define Black British History?
I'd rather not separate Black British History from British History. Black people have lived in Britain for at least the last 500 years therefore we all share the same history. Unfortunately, there are just not enough of the "Black" histories told.
Why do you think it's important for children to learn about Black British History?
I think knowing your history helps you to understand who you are. It also helps you to understand others around you. If the only thing you've ever been taught about your history is negative stories about slavery etc., then it won't give you a very positive opinion or outlook. Children today don't have enough positivity around them. They desperately need stories of heroes from the past that can inspire them.
What kind of backgrounds do the children in your school come from? Do you think Black British History is only important for BAME pupils, or is it for everyone?
Luckily, I have no idea what BAME pupils are! I think it is important for everyone to hear about everybody's history as it is through increased understanding that we begin to accept each other. Children in my class come from all over the world. Roughly half of them are white British but the other half comes from every country you could think of. I have 13 different first languages in my class this year!
Is this something they need to learn at Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-9), or can it be left till Secondary School?
I have heard that a child forms a picture of themselves and who they are between the ages of 7-9. Therefore if you wait until later, you will have 'missed' some children who have already decided that their place in the world is negative. Young children are like sponges, desperate to soak up knowledge. However, they have little filter at that age and so if they are constantly fed negativity they will subconsciously take that forward in their lives.
What do you think is stopping teachers from teaching Black British History?
For some it is lack of knowledge, for others it is lack of desire and other priorities. However, for all it is certainly a lack of time or not knowing how to use the time they have.
Do you have any specific ideas about how we can get Black British History into Primary Schools now, without waiting for the Government to change the Curriculum?
I would suggest teaching History through Literacy (which accounts for two-thirds of our teaching time). It is very simple to teach Literacy though links to a key text. If this text was set in a historical period and featured inspirational heroes then two objectives could be met concurrently. I've written a Literacy exercise using a passage from Jupiter Williams by S.I. Martin, to show the sort of thing I mean. We need story books and schemes of work linking to the new Literacy curriculum, and materials for Powerpoint or Activinspire (modern day blackboards!) so that no time is required to use the resources.
What can historians, archivists, museums and other experts in Black British History do to help teachers bring the subject into their classrooms?
Consult teachers as to what they would like to know or need from you and keep lines of communication open. Best of all: come and see us! Children like nothing more than having 'real' people in to talk to them! Let us handle objects and open up discussions. Show us the information you have. Share it with us in a child friendly, accessible format so we can use it immediately!
Thanks Augusta- it's good to have some practical suggestions to think about. I hope I get to visit your school again soon!
Augusta has written a sample Literacy exercise using a passage from S.I. Martin's novel Jupiter Williams. Click here to read the passage and see the questions- let us know what you think, add your own questions/ send us your answers in the comments section below.