I have published an article co-written with my Warwick colleague, Shahnaz Akhter in the London Review of Education. It is entitled, 'Decolonising the School Curriculum in an Era of Political Polarisation', and it appears in volume 20, issue 1 of the journal. It is published in fully open access format and is available at https://doi.org/10.14324/LRE.20.1.27Link opens in a new window.
Abstract: 'Decolonising objectives have arisen in England as a reaction to a broader political context that could hardly be called supportive of such aims. Teachers who wish to engage actively with lesson planning consistent with a decolonised curriculum are confronted with ever stricter guidance from government ministers about how they are expected to stick rigidly to content that is centrally approved. With the Conservative Party currently appearing to believe it benefits electorally from engineering political polarisation, full-throated endorsement of a culture-wars narrative that associates a decolonised school curriculum with an attack on the very idea of Britishness is perhaps the logical destination. In this article, we show that the Government's insistence that decolonisation should not take place is endorsing a vision of citizenship that is wholly at odds with the realities of modern multicultural schooling.'
On June 22nd 2022 I presented a paper alongside my co-author, Shahnaz Akhter, to my own Department's annual research conference at Warwick. The paper was entitled 'Decolonising the School Curriculum in an Age of Political Polarisation'.
Abstract: 'The objective of decolonising the school curriculum itself embodies an obviously political act, but it has arisen within a broader political context that could hardly be said to support such an aim. There is a clear tension here. As students move through the school year groups they are increasingly exposing themselves to important questions of why the world looks as it does, why some people’s experiences of that world diverge from others’, and why what they are taught in schools appears to reinforce the structural inequalities to which they are becoming sensitised. Today’s students have embraced their access to a knowledge-rich society to become much more aware through self-education of the limitations of their curriculum than arguably any previous generation. Yet at the same time teachers are confronted with ever stricter guidance from government ministers about how they are expected to stick rigidly to the centrally-approved curriculum in a way that is inconsistent with any attempts to decolonise the content of lessons, let alone the experience of school more generally. This might be through full-throated endorsement of a culture wars narrative, which labels any attempt to enlarge the content of the curriculum as a ‘woke’ attack on the very idea of Britishness, with associated emotional pleas to save the country’s children from indoctrination by critical race theory and/or cultural Marxism. It might alternatively be through the use of the House of Commons despatch box to threaten legal action against any teacher who is deemed to be in breach of the 1996 Education Act’s duty of political neutrality, as if the furious spats over the 2013 rewriting of the national curriculum can somehow be construed as evidence that the neutrality condition is alive and well. Our paper asks what the prospects are for a meaningful decolonisation of the school curriculum in an age of political polarisation, culture wars and threats to teacher autonomy.'