Hey! If you have read my blog post about why we have decided to keep the kids at home for the foreseeable future, then you will know that we are still doing our best to home educate our kids. I’ve always tried to be a good ally to anyone who is suffering the injustice of inequality and with the recent Blackout Tuesday across social media to support Black Lives Matter movement and give white and non-black allies time to learn and educate themselves, I felt like I learned so much. I found so many new resources to help me be a better ally, and more specifically, to empower me to speak confidently to my children about being anti-racist.
If you would like more information on how you can educate yourself on this, then I would highly recommend visiting Blacklivesmatter.com as well as The Black Curriculum for some amazing advice on how to diversify our curriculum whilst you’re at home because, lets face it, our curriculum is a white wash, and I challenge anyone to tell me that they can tell me a lot about black history in the UK because of what they learnt at school.
So what are we doing at home? Well one of the things that I took away from Tuesday was that we’re not really diversifying our children’s education and lives as much as we could. I know my kids have some wonderful books that are really diverse (you can click here to find a wonderful resource for books to diversify your child’s bookcase by Here Wee Read) and that we talk to them about racism, but when I look at the stuff we have been doing for homeschooling, be that what the school has advised based on the curriculum or what we have sourced ourselves, it’s
almost ALL about white people, with only a limited inclusion of ethnic minorities during RE lessons about Hinduism (and as your skin colour is not a defining trait in your religious choices, I feel we’re not being helpful there).
I truly believe that systemic racism will never be changed unless we teach our children from a young age to be anti-racist, as well as show them that Black history is not limited to a quick chat about slavery. What about all the amazing achievements of Black and Ethnic Minorities? Where are the notable figures, and I don’t mean just extremely famous ones like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela, I mean the scientists, the medical professionals, the musicians, the lawyers, activists… you get my point.
So these are a few ideas for things that we will be doing over the next couple of weeks, based on the current curriculum stages my children (EYFS, KS1 and KS2) are at, I hope this is useful.
KS1&2 Fact file or information poster about Patrick Aryee
One of the things that Reuben had been set by his teacher was to create a fact file about David Attenborough, which was great because he is a phenomenal figure to learn about. We have done a fact file about Attenborough, and now there is a challenge to create an information poster about him, but we thought perhaps it would be an idea to create a fact file or poster about Patrick Aryee instead. Aryee is a black biologist, wildlife filmmaker and has been integral behind the scenes of several of Attenborough’s big BBC TV shows like Frozen Planet. He’s done some genuinely fascinating programs himself and you can find them on Sky Nature right now, so it’s really an great opportunity to diversify the usual ‘white male scientist’ narrative, whilst putting something on the TV for the kids and freeing yourself up to do something else. I’m planning to get the boys to create a fact file about Aryee and his career, for our quiet time in the afternoon we will watch some episodes from his shows and then continue learning about him and his career, exactly the same as we have for Attenborough.
This next couple of weeks the littler ones are learning all about different types of music, which frankly I think is the perfect time to get diverse AND talk to them about culture. Did you know classical music is likely to have it’s roots in North Africa? Yes, our white ancestors stole that too. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745 – 1799) was the first recognised black composer (and I say recognised because if it stems back as far as Ancient Egypt then how can he be the first?). Whilst we’ve done a season wheel of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, it was also suggested that we use various different types of music, play them to the children and then ask them to tell us what the music makes them feel. The below video is Saint-Georges Symphony 11 No.1 in D major. It’s believed that Saint-Georges was the inspiration for Mozart’s villainous black character Monostatos, who appears in his opera The Magic Flute and that Mozart stole some of his work. If you would like some more information about black composers through the ages, I found this helpful.
I have never heard this man’s name until this week. This will not be my kids.
It doesn’t need to stop there, another task is to make music with items and objects around you – my rudimentary understanding of the music industry would link this (ahem, loosely) to being a producer, so it’s a great opportunity to talk to the kids about famous music producers, including members of ethnic minorities.
Reading a diverse range of books is so helpful for kids. Biff, Chip and Kipper are not the one.
I really love Julian is a Mermaid (also excellent for talking to kids about trans and LGBTQ+ people, which I’ve written about here) and I have ordered a few books for the boys (a lot of the more diverse books we have are very much aimed at younger children), which I can then build comprehensions on. Get Epic is a fab resource for reading too.
KS1 – History – Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole
Toby has been learning about Queen Victoria and by proxy the Victorian era, when I asked him about Florence Nightingale, he said he already knew who she was, but Mary Seacole was not given the same treatment. Mary Seacole is absolutely on the curriculum but really only at a later date from what I can understand, and if my kids know about Florence at this age, then I think it’s right to know about Mary too.
Talk about Black Lives Matter, activism then and activism now.
There are so many other suggestions, but to be honest we would be here all night. For every time we teach our kids about notable figures, or current figures, we need to be asking ourselves are we making that diverse enough. There are so many amazing people out there to learn from and learn about, they are not all white and I feel like it’s fundamental to our children’s future to teach them that. It doesn’t have to historical either – as with David Attenborough and Patrick Aryee, it can be current. As with music and producers, it can be now and up and coming people.
At this moment in time, we will be talking to the kids about the protests across the world in support of Black Lives Matter, talking to them about what activism means and why they should *always* stand up for what they believe in, even when it’s uncomfortable. We will be explaining what Black lives matter means, and doing a research project (Reuben and Toby, Edith will listen and join in chats, but research projects are a bit hard for her) on what they are campaign for.