Discussing Diversity in the Curriculum
As Black History Month comes to a close, it presents a great opportunity for reflection on what’s taken place in our classes over the past 3 – 4 weeks. Changes made to the regular curriculum. Maybe a request for your department to ‘do something for Black History Month’. Questions we may have had as teachers and leaders. An avoidance to make any changes to the school curriculum and the wider school environment in recognition of the annual ‘event’. Perhaps a preference to teach Black history as part of global history, British history, and the history of music, as opposed to having a focus for a single month in the year.
Beneath the various iterations of how Black History Month may have been marked in your school, sit many questions:
What should I teach?
Why Black History Month?
How is this relevant to the children I teach?
Can I have some help with subject knowledge?
I’m not an expert – is there someone who is, that can help me?
How do I fit this in with everything I already need to teach?
It’s a minefield. What should / shouldn’t I say?
What is the correct language to use?
What is the impact of my choice of language, on the children I teach?
Where are the opportunities to roll this out more widely at KS4 / KS5?
We are all on this journey at the same time. Of course, with differing views on whether or not this is all necessary. A journey, nonetheless.
Do articles such as this from The Telegraph on the current Secretary of State for Education’s warnings on how we might discuss social justice in an educational setting, help to offer the clarity and guidance that we need? To what extent do teachers and leaders want to diversify the music curriculum? Many of us signed up to teaching, to share our love for the music we know, love and excel at and this picture can look quite different, regionally. Is it more comfortable and fitting to focus on teaching practical music-making without delving too far into context?
I’m embarking on some professional conversations to hear different perspectives on the use of language when discussing race and diversity in education. Can we reach the point where we collectively speak from a place of truth? Where we acknowledge the vast array of backgrounds of the children we teach, with interest and a desire to celebrate excellence? How can we make this a reality? How might we better equip UK teachers to have the language and knowledge they need to teach an increasingly inclusive music curriculum?
If you would like to talk through these questions or perhaps some that haven’t been mentioned here (maybe a burning question that I haven’t yet thought about) join me at my session, hosted by Sound Connections next month. Booking link will be made available and added to an update of this blog post.