Daily Mail Online: LONDON, England – The country’s biggest teaching union has urged its members to educate children on white privilege and to decolonise their classrooms, a report has revealed.
The National Education Unions has told its 450,000 members that “from curriculum to routines to classroom layout, our education system has been shaped by colonisation and neo-liberalism”.
In the report, the NEU suggests that education offered in schools lacks “honesty and transparency” because of the “silence around British imperialism and racism in the British education system, as well as a lack of histories from around the world”.
In its summary of lessons learned from the decolonising education conference, it sets out strategies that should be undertaken to address the issue including activist training for teachers.
In suggesting “strategies for decolonising education in our nurseries, schools and colleges”, the report details a list of actions that should be taken by its members to decolonise education.
It suggests specialists could “train teachers and schools on whiteness, anti-racism, creating tools for critical self-reflection and understanding the system” and says schools should “make white privilege and colonialism visible”.
In addressing the curriculum, the report says schools should “move beyond diversification of literature to look at critiquing the ideas and knowledge we perpetuate and transforming pedagogical methods”.
Teachers need to address every subject at every key stage, according to the report which says “British culture is saturated with a longing for return to Empire without any understanding into what Empire is/was”.
Critics of the report say the content is “divisive’ and the product of a ‘warped view of the past”.
Sir John Hayes, chair of the Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, told The Telegraph: “This is sinister. To think that people with such a warped view of the past, present and future should be instructing our children is chilling.
“The truth is Britain has made disproportionately noble contributions to the history of the world.”
Mark Lehain, of the Campaign for Common Sense and a former headteacher, added: “Schools are there to educate pupils, not evangelise for extreme ideologies or turn children into activists. It’s sad that a union would encourage its members to push things that are so divisive.”
Joint secretary of the union, Dr Mary Bousted said: “What and how we teach, and whether we think about over-looked voices and untold histories, contributes to whether we’re giving young people equal opportunities to succeed at school.
“Decolonising can lead us to a more empathetic and fairer society, which is good for us all, but it’s also about high-quality teaching and more time for critical thinking skills in school.”
The NEU’s report is just the latest decolonisation campaign in schools across the country.
Earlier this year, the NASUWT also called for the decolonisation of the curriculum.
Prompted by the Black Lives Matter protest, the union said it “will be lobbying governments to secure inclusive curriculum frameworks, which recognise and celebrate the contributions of all citizens”.
In a statement issued in May, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT and Chair of the TUC’s Anti-racism Taskforce, said: “Education has vital role to play in teaching future generations about our country’s shared history, promoting equality, inclusion and respect for others, and in teaching about the historical injustices that continue to drive all forms of discrimination and extremism in our society today.
“The NASUWT is calling for the decolonising of curriculums across the UK.”
It comes after equalities minister Kemi Badenoch said the phrase “white privilege’ should not be taught at schools because it is ‘unnecessarily antagonistic”.
She said there is a “fairly toxic political debate” around the term and it should not be taught unless its contentiousness is explained to children.
She said “we should not carelessly use skin colour as a proxy for disadvantage”.
And she argued the term — used in a BBC Bitesize educational video designed for children — reinforces the belief that “everyone and everything” around ethnic minorities is racist.
Her comments come after a landmark report found white working-class pupils have been ‘let down’ for decades by England’s education system — and that promoting ideas of ‘white privilege’ makes the situation worse.
The Commons Education Select Committee said white working-class pupils should “feel anything but privileged”.
The committee’s report earlier this week warned against “pitting different groups against each other” and suggested that schools which promote ideas of “white privilege” could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010.