Black History Month – Why We Need to Celebrate Black History All Year…
To celebrate Black History Month Prospero Teaching’s very own History Teacher has given us her thoughts
As a student, I remember every February my school would celebrate Black History Month with very specific activities. We would have special presentations in the library on African and Caribbean authors, read a book about the slave experience in the American South, create bulletin boards of significant African and Caribbean leaders and discuss their contributions to religion, sport, fashion and politics. Then, on March 1st we all returned to our regular lessons, the novel study book changed and the bulletin boards were redone and Black History was put aside until the next year.
There is nothing wrong with the ways in which my school celebrated Black History Month; we did our best to share information about an important group of people whose contributions to our society were largely overlooked for years. There is something wrong though with only acknowledging these contributions once a year, during a predetermined time. The contributions of African and Caribbean people cannot be confined to 28 days and teaching any aspect of history while leaving out their perspective is a disservice.
As a history teacher, I have planned lessons on world exploration, political revolutions, social and economic changes and both World Wars (to name a few). From my experience, I know that leaving out the perspective of not just African and Caribbean people but any minority is not teaching history properly. It is important to include diverse perspectives in all lessons for two main reasons: 1) nothing in history happened only to white European people and therefore all perspectives on events should be shared with students and 2) most of our students aren’t white European and so they want to see themselves and their cultures reflected in what they are learning.
Black History Month is an excellent way to honour African and Caribbean leaders and cultures but it shouldn’t be the only time that these men and women are included in our lessons and discussions. It also isn’t a topic that should be limited to subjects like History or English. It is simple for a Maths Teacher to create a bulletin board of significant mathematicians from different races and keep it up all school year. Music and Drama Teachers have a wide range of artists, actors, composers and music genres to demonstrate diverse cultures to students. Even a P.E. Teacher can regularly do short drills from sports or activities from around the world to open their student’s eyes to the way other children play. All of these small plans can help students build connections to people all around the world and help them develop into understanding and accepting adults.
Erin, History Teacher, Prospero Teaching, Canada.
Do you have experience teaching Black History Month? If so, what are your thougths; do you agree or disagree with Erin’s assertion, and if so why?
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