As an undergraduate history student producing my dissertation on the British Empire, I have been reflecting about the ways in which I was taught about colonialism in secondary faculty in the rather recent earlier – I still left school in 2018.
I was fortuitous sufficient to have had a teacher who felt it was vital to train his college students each individual factor of Scotland’s heritage, even when that heritage did not replicate very well on Scotland. On the other hand, a lot of of my peers described they experienced by no means coated imperialism in the classroom, and their first exposure to colonial background was at a college stage.
By instructing pupils about Scotland’s colonial past, it is possible for us all to understand the Scotland we dwell in right now. Scottish training by itself has a historical past rooted in colonialism: Scottish Protestant missionaries set up schools all over British Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Scottish training process was emulated during the British Empire (see reference underneath).
Colonialism can be an scary subject to broach in a way that is informative and delicate. Universities during Scotland research the “Migration and Empire” pathway as component of the record curriculum, starting critical conversations about Scotland’s connection with the rest of the globe. But how can academics facilitate beneficial and a great deal-required conversations of the imperial past?
1. Make the classroom a safe and sound space
Have college students replicate on their own “positionality” – why who they are and wherever they’re from might influence how they interact with specified histories. Not only need to learners imagine about their personal positions in these histories but the instances of those people all-around them urge learners to interact with class information thoughtfully.
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2. Use right terminology
Just one useful way to help produce a safe area is by giving college students the language wanted to articulate their details. For case in point, pupils really should be taught not to refer to groups of people employing out-of-date colonial language these as “tribe” and “native”. Relatively than creating sweeping statements and broad generalisations, college students must get treatment to explain teams of people today by their unique nationality or ethnic group.
3. Centre cultural sensitivity
By discovering to deal with groups by their suitable names, it results in being less complicated to keep away from racist stereotypes, and focus on the colonial earlier in a nuanced and respectful way. Instructors really should operate to actively deconstruct stereotypes and urge students to be essential of up to date sources rooted in racist ideologies.
When instructing about colonialism, there is a challenging harmony to strike concerning showing the truthful and upsetting truth and taking university student wellbeing into account. It can be distressing for black and minority ethnic pupils to be exposed to graphic imagery depicting colonial atrocities. It would support pupils if academics meticulously viewed as the imagery they picked when covering these matters, and delivered information warnings so that students can be prepared for the lesson forward.
4. Focus on agency
Though the Migration and Empire topic falls in just the Scottish area of the Countrywide 5 and Greater history programs, it is not often practical to examine any form of history from just one particular viewpoint. In line with phone calls to “decolonise the curriculum”, the training course requirements mandate that instructors protect the reaction of indigenous peoples to Scottish settlement during the Empire. This concentrate on indigenous agency can assistance to re-centre the conversation and stay away from glorifying imperial exploitation.
5. Connection again to the existing day
Background is not confined to the webpages of textbooks it’s going on all close to us as a continual method. Encourage learners to do their own exploration into how migration and empire has formed their family members histories. Armed with the context of the earlier, students can with any luck , superior comprehend the environment close to them, why it is structured the way it is – and how they can aid to make it a improved area for all people.
Robyn Barclay is an undergraduate record scholar specialising in colonialism, centered in Scotland. She tweets @robyn_barclay_