Education

Decolonise education, enrich learning

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An African proverb says, ‘until the lion learns how to write, the story will always glorify the hunter’. Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, BAME people have a chance to realise its truth, writes Julie Mukajee

The version of the British Empire I was taught in schools was totally different to what my parents taught me. My dad always said, “we don’t have to be taught our history by the British. Let me teach you.” He told me of the atrocity of the Bengal Famine, Partition, Subhas Chandra Bose, my parents’ family who took part and lost their lives in the struggle for Indian Independence, the Indian soldiers who fought for the British during WW2. It was neither pretty nor forgiving. It was not about how charming Lord Mountbatten and the British rulers were.

Secondary schooling and the new futures for education

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Lisa Tunnell draws out the lessons from the pandemic

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the faults and inequalities of the system we live under. This is as true of the education systems as in other areas of life. Many educational issues have been exposed, such as the unequal access to distance learning, the poor provision of Free School Meals and the push for an unsafe wider reopening of schools. However, the pandemic has also shown the importance of schools, not just as places of learning, but as hubs of the community.

In the engine room

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In his short, fascinating and hugely influential book Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher talks, amongst a great many other things, about education. He says, “Education, far from being in some ivory tower safely inured from the ‘real world’, is the engine room of the reproduction of social reality, directly confronting the inconsistencies of the capitalist social field.”

Simmering anger at teachers’ conference

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The new National Education Union held its first conference last month, and delegates met amid much prior speculation and some trepidation. Would the merger of the NUT and the ATL prove a block on moves to action, and how would the turn out in our pay and funding ballot affect teachers and support staff’s commitment to taking on government cuts? Would the commitments of National Union of Teachers to international solidarity, to social justice and the fight for an equal society be side-lined in favour of a narrow agenda? How would we continue our work on curriculum and pedagogy?

Fundamental British tosh

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The government’s Prevent strategy is inherently racist and it attempts to turn teachers into agents of the security services. Ümit Yildiz looks at the problems with enforcing a spurious notion of “British values”.

Paul Gilroy wrote that “racism does not, of course, move tidily and unchanged through time and history”. While on the surface “acceptable” racism in the UK has shifted its focus from colour to creed, culture and religion, its tools of operation remain the same: the judiciary, the police, the education system, the media, namely the British state itself.

Following the attacks on 11 September 2001, already growing anti-Muslim racism was normalised by the US administration and successive British governments.

Making Workers: Radical Geographies of Education

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Geographer Danny Dorling quotes that in an 1879 testimony to a select committee of the British parliament one petitioner said, “Geography, sir, is ruinous in its effects on the lower classes. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are comparatively safe, but geography invariably leads to revolution.”

Katharyne Mitchell is able to use the geographer’s skill at looking at the changes in the system, both over time and spatially, and is able to draw the links between ideology, causes, and effects.

Teachers' victory on trans rights

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At the National Union of Teachers conference in April a historic motion was passed supporting positive positions on transgender rights and committing the union to fully implement the recommendations of the Gender Recognition Act.

Over recent years arguments have taken place about transgender rights both on the left among feminists, and on the right. These have often been specifically about the right of transgender people to self-identify and have access to single sex bathroom facilities.

Signs of recovery

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The junior doctors' dispute has combined with teachers’ anger and the Tory crisis to present new opportunities

The government has stumbled into a key trial of strength with junior doctors, who by the end of April had taken five rounds of escalating strikes, including a full walkout without cover. As the BBC’s health correspondent wrote after the full walkout, “this is going to be a fight to the bitter end…both sides have been briefing about how determined they are not to give ground. But who will break first? Ministers or doctors?” The answer will have far reaching consequences.

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