Diversity in the History Curriculum
I’ve received a number of messages over the past few days and seen a number of posts talking about diversity in the history curriculum and, at the moment of course, it is a very poignant topic.
Whilst we should try to diversify our topics and content to include a broad range of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, we should remember to make sure that what we do is relevant and linked in some way to what we already teach. When learning becomes about ‘ticking boxes’ then it loses its meaning and can feel out of place. How will you justify each of your topics and what threads them together?
My mantra has always been to try and include as MANY local links as possible to whatever we teach in whichever key stage and for me, this should ring true with diversity too. Whilst it can be difficult to find individuals or events that fit every local area (some schools have a community of a thousand people or less and always have done!) then of course it can be difficult.
But as I was looking for some resources, I came across an article from the Historical Association called 'Diversity and the History Curriculum' by Ilona Aronovsky (2013) which I thought was fantastic at providing teachers and subject leaders with ideas about what diversity looks like, resources that could be used and a myriad of themes that could be included to focus the learning. By taking this into consideration, creating those links will have much more meaning and purpose, rather than just having a standalone 'diversity' topic.
By all means, create new topics that feature diversity at the heart of them, but having something that sticks out like a sore thumb and seems reactionary rather than integrated and meaningful will prove difficult to justify if challenged about your curriculum content choices. Try to find links to local people or events, and if these can't be found, then consider national events that will have had an impact on the local area by proxy. How have attitudes towards immigration changed across the country and therefore the local area? What were the national reactions to certain events that manifested into local reactions? If your area ISN'T particularly diverse, why is that? Sometimes, looking at why things HAVEN'T changed can be just as interesting as why they have.
The heart of your history curriculum should be about the coherence of it (this is the FIRST line of the National Curriculum Purpose of Study) and so we must think about how we can weave diversity into our exisiting curriculums rather than just bolting it on. Think about the choices that you make and relevance to the children. It may take a bit of research to find the aspects that you want, but the reward will be that the learning will be meaningful and you will be able to confidently justify your choices should you be asked about them.
You can find the 'Diversity and the History Curriculum' article here and read through it if you have a membership to the Historical Association: