November is here and we are saying goodbye to another Black History Month (BHM), but I wonder if it’s fit for purpose? Does there need to be a specific month were people cram in hundreds of years of history, and then end it with the subconscious cliché of ‘same time, next year?’ I’ve had this discussion with friends and strangers; initially I thought BHM was important but I’m not sure anymore.
In a BBC article last week the outspoken poet Benjamin Zephaniah said that ‘multiculturalism is under attack’ because Asian and Black history is not taught properly in British schools. In a week where teachers have been accused of not being inspirational and required to take more stringent tests, Benjamin Zephaniah claims that many history teachers cannot name an early African philosopher. Having been educated in the British education system all my life, I can’t name one off the top of my head either, so I will be doing some research after writing this post!
The History Curriculum Association chief Chris McGovern, claims that parents and children from ethnic minority backgrounds prefer to learn about British history because they are tired with the depressing horror stories of oppression and abuse that surround some of the history of Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. While Benjamin Zephaniah is campaigning for Asian/African history to become part of the school curriculum, some professionals in the education system disagree with him, believing that children should only be taught the history of the society in which they live.
I think history is very important and understand that it does make sense to learn about the society in which you live but when I was at school we were not even taught about contributions of black people in Britain let alone what they did in Africa or the Caribbean, and I am sure that not only Indian children could benefit from learning about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. In the USA black history is taught in schools.