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US NewsI'm a history lecturer, and my incoming students know next to nothing about the British empire

21:11  08 november  2018
21:11  08 november  2018 Source:   inews.co.uk

Students move in after housing charity moves pensioners out of north inner city flat complex

Students move in after housing charity moves pensioners out of north inner city flat complex Students move in after housing charity moves pensioners out of north inner city flat complex

The students I encounter as a history lecturer know next to nothing about empire , and the conquest, subjugation and exploitation of millions of ‘Black history is British history ’. Corbyn’s proposals would not only begin to redress the phenomenal gulf between academic history and the

The next attempt to establish English colonies in America comes in 1606, with the founding of two companies for the purpose. Meanwhile England is also considering a more active role in European adventures to the east. At the very end of the century an initiative is taken which will lead, through the

I'm a history lecturer, and my incoming students know next to nothing about the British empire © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Jeremy Corbyn recently proposed that British school children should be taught about the history of the realities of British imperialism and colonialism. This would include the history of people of colour as components of, and contributors to, the British nation-state – rather than simply as enslaved victims of it. As Corbyn rightly noted: “Black history is British history”.

'The students I encounter know very little about Britain's past'

This is a welcome proposal because, as an academic who teaches modules on South Asian, imperial, colonial and global history, I face an uphill struggle at the start of each new academic year.

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University lecturer, 56, and her husband are arrested for 'keeping Polish builder a slave in the garden shed of their £1.2m home where he slept on sun lounger and had no toilet' Pritpal Binning, 56, (left) and her spouse Palvinder, 54, are suspected of holding a Polish builder as a slave in their garden shed (bottom right) for four years. He was said to have been held against his will while he worked on their five-bedroom £1.2million house in Hampshire (top right). 

And I ’ m convinced they know nothing . (Sorry kids, it’s not your fault.) How did we know this? Watch on Forbes: Because I ’ m really good at teaching my kids memory tricks; I’ve taught them how to “You are studying Roman history but you have no idea that Rome is a city that is in the country of Italy!”

British Empire : British Empire , a worldwide system of dependencies—colonies, protectorates, and other territories—that over a span of some three centuries was Learn more about the British Empire in this article. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students .

Many of the undergraduates who greet me know virtually nothing about any of the subjects I teach.

A curriculum by white men

These are students who are educated through a school history curriculum that focuses almost entirely on English political and religious history – with bits of 20th-century European history thrown in. These are the bits with figures who can easily be cast as “evil” – Hitler or Stalin, for example.

I'm a history lecturer, and my incoming students know next to nothing about the British empire © Getty A soviet propaganda poster featuring joseph stalin published by the iskusstvo publishing house, 1950 (?), 'under the leadership of great stalin - forward to communism'. (Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

The students who I encounter know very little about Britain’s past, let alone Britain’s connections with the wider world or the history of the world outside Europe.

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The students who I encounter know very little about Britain’s past, let alone Britain’s connections with the wider world or the history of the world outside Europe. They, therefore, know practically nothing about empire and its legacies – including in Britain. The histories they have studied and texts they

The historiography of the British Empire refers to the studies, sources, critical methods and interpretations used by scholars to develop a history of Britain's empire .

They therefore know practically nothing about empire and its legacies – including in Britain. The histories they have studied and texts they have read were virtually all about or by white men, so they also know nothing about the history of women or the histories of people of colour, either. This includes those who have played important roles in shaping Britain’s past.

Read more: Thank you, Jeremy Corbyn – what you said about colonialism was spot on

‘Black history is British history’

Corbyn’s proposals would not only begin to redress the phenomenal gulf between academic history and the English school curriculum. They would also help students to see people of colour as historical agents. The proposals may also help to challenge the exclusivist and essentialist ways in which students are taught to view both Britain and the wider world.

These proposals, however, have been met with the type of outrage many have come to expect from white, middle-aged, right-wing conservatives. According to the “bullish” Brexiteer and Conservative MP Tom Loughton, Corbyn’s proposals demonstrated he was “ashamed” of his own country – and was more interested in “talking down” Britain rather than celebrating “the immense amount of good we have done in the world over many centuries”.

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When would you say high school students started learning a new way of seeing Reconstruction? The main thing is that people know next to nothing about Reconstruction. And what they do know I wrote a book about the history of the idea of freedom, and then shortly thereafter George W. Bush

But if we abandon the lecture format because students may find it difficult, we do them a disservice. I lecture from detailed notes, which I rehearse before each class until I know the script well enough When the hour is done, I ’ m hot and sweaty. A good lecturer is “someone who conveys that there’s

I'm a history lecturer, and my incoming students know next to nothing about the British empire © Getty British pro-Brexit conservative politician Jacob Rees-Mogg poses for a photograph in central London on October 18, 2018. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

“Bad things”, according to Loughton, undoubtedly happened in the name of empire, but Britain should be proud of its many legacies – including its role in abolishing the global slave trade. Not to be outdone, the equally bullish Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg trotted out Britain’s abolition of the slave trade on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show. He also noted that while there were “blots” on Britain’s colonial history it had some “good bits” that were “really wonderful”.

Denial about empire

'Teaching children to interrogate difficult histories does not make them hate their country'

Such responses demonstrate a profound ignorance about British imperial and colonial history, particularly about the impact of empire on not only the colonised but also the colonisers as well. But it is a state of denial about empire that makes views like those of Loughton and Rees Mogg possible. To say that empire had “good bits” is to deny what empire entailed – namely the conquest, subjugation and exploitation of millions of people.

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Most UK students know little of the empire their grandparenst were born in. We have to explain that The domestic underclass could become the imperial over class and all British classes could unite in Historian Deana Heath has noted that our national history curriculum now manages to avoid tackling

The controversial historian on how political debate in England is trapped in the 80s, why Americans love him – and his refusal to forgive people who cross him.

It is to erase the tremendous structural and symbolic violence that empire unleashed. To praise Britain’s role in abolishing the slave trade is only possible if we deny the various forms of economic, political, social and cultural violence that enabled the perpetuation of such a trade – in Britain and its empire – as well as the ongoing legacies of such forms of violence. To view empire as having “good” and “bad” bits also entails viewing the past in simplistic terms. And to claim students should only study the “good bits” of the past also begs the question: whose “good bits”, exactly?

It also assumes that to teach schoolchildren the “bad” bits is to make them ashamed of their country’s past. Yet as Germany has demonstrated, teaching children to interrogate difficult histories does not make them hate their country. It can serve, instead, to promote an “anti-nationalist nationalism”, in which the very tenets of nationalist thinking – including viewing the past in nationalistic terms – are critiqued.

As my own students have told me, being able to interrogate difficult histories such as the history of empire, to explore the myriad connections between people in different parts of the planet, or to study the writings of Indian thinkers and actors has given them a much better understanding of themselves and their place in the world. Or, as one student put it, it has enabled them to “grow as a person”. And that, surely, is what education is supposed to do.

Deana Heath is a Senior Lecturer in Indian and Colonial History at the University of Liverpool

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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