Making black history topics relatable for the youth of today is something that Adam feels is crucial to engaging the class and making history enjoyable. He has used various teaching methods to allow students to question culture and relate events to their lives today.
“In my last few schools, I have dedicated an entire day to different historical events, such as Holocaust Memorial Day. The students responded with curiosity, and it gave them the chance to ask pertinent questions and make contemporary links and ask ‘What is the impact of that today? How can we move forward?’
“It can be challenging to engage students when faced with complex and sensitive questions. You need to ensure that the subject matter can be engaging and come alive; one way of establishing this in schools could be to make further connections within the community to those who may have a story to share of their ancestors and how they settled here. If you have the human connection, the students will pick up on that and feel personally involved with the narrative. It is more uplifting and stimulating if students can relate to a person, rather than seeing information in a textbook; stories can really capture the mind.”
As Head of Humanities in a school in Switzerland, Adam explains the training methods that he that has put in place for NQT’s or less inexperienced colleagues that are looking to approach the topic of black history. The school assists and supports new members of the team by linking them with more experienced and established teaching colleagues.
“When new teachers arrive from other cultures or begin teaching a new unit relating to topics of a sensitive nature, it is essential to coach and advise them on ways of communicating them with students and the wider community; and within their historical context.”
“It’s important to stress that outside school you cannot always use certain words. Some teachers may forget and use the terms loosely which can be dangerous and offensive. Within international education we have colleagues coming in from all over the world, so they may not always be culturally conscious of their new environment.
Reaching out to the school body and requesting fact sheets, or having a conversation with other teachers, is something that Adam encourages to support those who are uncertain on the correct context of the subject and are unfamiliar with today’s language surrounding Black History.
“There are not a great deal of resources for teachers associated with Black History and therefore, it is essential that education establishments begin to build up resources to encourage schools to plan and develop modules relating to it. This can only be beneficial for raising awareness within the UK and break the culture of intolerance that we unfortunately see within our society, such as the booing of England football players taking the knee at the previous Euro Football tournament”.
“In order to see tangible cultural change and understanding of Black history, it is essential that exam boards expand options and plant seeds from an early age, so students are encouraged to study these topics further in the future. We need more options, and some units must be made compulsory to help create awareness of our ancestry and evolving British culture.”
When touching on the recent events of racist abuse through sport and the media over recent years, Adam discusses how his school tackles the topic of racial abuse today.
“During Homeroom sessions we aim to invite external speakers to come in to talk about hate crime and verbal racist abuse and how to deal with these issues; this generates such valuable discussions in the classroom. Students relate to these issues and explore them further within the theatre of Humanities lessons; through further dialogue and discussion, students are able to make connections between the struggles that black people endured, and the legacy of racism that exists today in light of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaigns these past few years.”