United Kingdom

‘Prompt classroom discussion’ Schools must tackle racism frankly – new plea issued

To celebrate Black History Month, campaign group Don’t Divide Us (DDU) has produced a series of free lesson materials for teachers and schools across the UK to help recognise this important period and beyond. The lesson materials are all produced by teachers and focused on being knowledge-rich and informed by universalist liberal values. DDU has supported this initiative to provide a different option to the direction of other organisations.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, an educator, writer and co-ordinator of DDU, urged teachers to “prompt classroom discussion, not close it down”. 

She said: “One of Don’t Divide Us’s main projects at the moment is producing lesson materials that could be used for Black History Month (all of October) or beyond.

“The main motivation is the fact that there are so many organisations producing resources that are at best banal educationally, and ethically dubious as they all start with CRT beliefs in e.g. systematic racism, white privilege and present them as indisputable facts.

“Myself (a former teacher) and some other teachers have put some materials together that are knowledge-rich and informed by universalist liberal values – the aim is to prompt classroom discussion, not close it down.

“One lesson, on Bamber Bridge (Key Stage 3) is based on the idea of historical reclamation – but not just adding tokenistic names of black people, but presenting content through which pupils can discuss racism, class, and solidarity.

“Or a film ‘Only human’, for Key Stage 2 pupils, draws on history, migration and biology to explore differences and commonality in a way that doesn’t ignore the divisiveness or distinctiveness of racism, but doesn’t promote the idea that this is all defining either.”

DDU was commended earlier this year by Boris Johnson for its work in support of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, and Ms Cuthbert has written for Schools Week, Reaction and CapX, among others.

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