40 Ways to Diversify the History Curriculum: A practical handbook£16.99*
- Elena has created a much-needed, helpful and resourceful book to help teach a more diverse history curriculum for pupils aged 7+ (through to GCSE and A-Level).
- Historically sensitive subject areas are dealt with directly, including chapters on Empire and Slavery, Migration, and Conflict.
- Each chapter focuses on the relevant issues and how to teach within History. Each activity is introduced with a 'Suggested enquiry' question, accompanied by an 'Alternative enquiry' option.
- Along with 'Key points' highlighted within each topic, Elena has carefully considered how best to teach the subjects with in-depth information and guidance for reference and further resources.
- This is an important book for teachers focusing on the History curriculum, addressing topics that are often overlooked in schools and society as a whole.
History is an exciting, dynamic discipline; new evidence and interpretation can offer up perspectives that shift our understanding, or make us think about events, people, or ideas in new ways. The same can be said of history teaching. If our lessons can expose pupils to new aspects of history – or even shed new light on periods of history with which young people have become familiar by the time they enter our classrooms – then we have gone some way towards exposing the complexity of history.
As a school subject, history has great potential for helping to develop pupils’ identities. It provides young people with opportunities to engage with ideas, values; and practices in a manner that equips them to navigate the challenges of adult life (as many education writers suggest). History offers young people the chance, as Arthur Marwick put it in 1989, to find ‘their bearings’, or to anchor themselves in the present whilst claiming inspiration and affirmation from the past¹. Helping pupils to do this seems to be one of the most important goals of history education.
The events of 2020 and 2021 have underlined the importance of challenging the perceived version of the history of empire, slavery, abolition, and race. The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota in May 2020 sparked global outrage and inspired a wave of activism: many protestors marched in the name of Black Lives Matter, a movement which – since 2013 – has worked to bring about justice and an end to racism.
In the wake of these activities, schools were urged to rethink the way certain histories were delivered. Schools across the UK have been reforming their
curriculum to reflect the achievements of black and minority ethnic people and address the harmful legacy of colonialism after a groundswell of demand from young people². But there is still a lot to be done.
This is where a new book by Elena Stevens will help. By introducing teachers to characters and stories that will enrich existing topics – particularly those taught at key stages 3, 4 or 5, 40 Ways to Diversify the History Curriculum provides busy history teachers with ready-to-use ideas, strategies and activities for diversifying the curriculum.
An experienced history lead, Elena Stevens argues that if we want to lay claim to a truly diverse curriculum, we need to make room for stories that move beyond the traditional focus on heroes, conquerors, and pioneers, exploring instead the real, lived experiences of a whole range of individuals. These include women, the working classes, Black, Asian, minority ethnic, disabled and LGBTQ+ communities.
Stevens’ book helpfully opens with a discussion of the theoretical/ historiographical developments that lie behind calls to diversify the curriculum – and, to accompany each of the 40 historical case studies, she provides ideas and activities for translating these into lesson plans and enquiries. Furthermore, Elena also guides teachers in shaping new enquiries from scratch.
The book is intended as a contribution to the decolonising project that has swept through history education in the last few years, acting as alternative lenses through which to teach popular topics and episodes of history. Fundamentally, Stevens believes we need to emphasise the value of these
kinds of stories, encouraging pupils to conceive of history in the broadest possible terms. By adopting such an approach, pupils will begin to recognise themselves in the people of the past – and this will prove invaluable in the process of identity construction in the present.
¹ For example, Keith C. Barton and Linda S. Levstik claim that history promotes ‘democratic citizenship’. See Keith C. Barton and Linda S. Levstik, Teaching History for the Common Good (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004).
² Hundreds of schools in England sign up for anti-racist curriculum | Race in education | The Guardian.