The “Why is my Curriculum White Campaign?” was set up at University College London. It seeks to promote a curriculum that reflects the racial diversity of British society and wants to see a move away from what it regards as a Eurocentric perspective. A recent article for the National Union of Students by Mariya Hussain makes the campaign’s position clear:
“The education we receive at many universities is one that has been largely shaped by colonialism. It is one that places white, Eurocentric writers and thinkers above others without much concern.”
The “Rhodes must Fall” agitation at Oxford University is part of the same movement. Similar protests have broken out elsewhere. Two plaques at Queen Mary University, London, commemorating a visit by the ghastly King Leopold of the Belgians have gone and Jesus College, Cambridge, has removed a bronze cockerel looted from Benin. Not to be outdone, the city of Bristol is busily excising the name of local slave trader Edward Colston from it buildings and from its memory. Amnesia, it seems, it one cure for the ‘sins’ of the past. Curriculum change is another.
Yes, it is ‘pay back’ time for British white colonial oppression, everywhere. Birmingham City University has stolen a march by launching Europe’s first undergraduate degree in black studies. Leeds ‘uni’ is not so far behind with a new module on Black British history. And, now, it is Oxford’s turn to bring it own momentum to the inevitable process of re-writing history curricula in the image and likeness of our own age. In future, history students will have to take a ‘world history’ paper paper – on “non-British and non-European history” – to complete their degree.
The Sunday Times has suggested that this might mean students having to study “1960s civil rights movement and Indian independence, highlighting figures such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Mahatma Gandhi.” Student campaigners, however, will certainly demand more than a few non-white heroes and heroines. Posters around Leeds University already label Winston Churchill as guilty of genocide because they claim he was “instrumental in killing millions of people of colour. The direction of travel with ‘world history’ is clear.
It seems that, finally, the universities are catching up with what goes on in schools even if they still have some way to go. The National Curriculum for History in schools gives statutory backing to prescribed lists of topics from ‘world history’ but, beyond a general requirement to teach British history, does not require anything or anyone specific from our own national past. Teachers are free to focus as much as they wish on non-white British history’. The life of Jamaican ‘nurse’ Mary’s Seacole , for example, is especially popular.
“Black History Month”, too, has been around for quite a while in schools even if younger pupils do always seem to ‘cotton on’ to what they are supposed to be learning. I recall one parent informing me about her young daughter’s lessons on apartheid. On the bus home she witnessed a classmate very politely asking an elderly black couple sitting at the front of the bus if they should not, in fact, be sitting at the back!
History is an account of the past and nothing more. Of course, accounts will differ but much of the narrative is not disputed. The study of history should not be used, as it is in many schools, as a vehicle for overtly promoting political correctness or, indeed, any other philosophy or perspective – from the Right, the Left or the Centre.
It is, now, the turn of universities to be led a merry dance by the educational thought police wishing to use history as a weapon in an ideological war. “Yes” to world history, then, but a resounding “No” to the distorting mirror of PC ideology that it is likely to bring with it.
(Image: Gerry Lauzon)