Chapter 1 - Where is here?

S Sareh Public Seen by 132

Thank you everyone who made it yesterday to the Reading Group! It was a lovely discussion, and I'm looking forward to seeing the discussion develop on this platform as well.

To everyone who could not make it, please feel free to join and contribute to the discussion! Here's a summary of the chapter and a few discussion points:

To understand what we mean by Educational Repair, it is important to fully grasp the extent of damage inflicted upon us, through the educational project. It is our view that the book we are discussing, Learning to Divide the World: Education at Empire's End by John Willinsky, offers us an insight into the history of education and its role in facilitating the divisions that are present in our world today.

While reading the first chapter, it would be beneficial to reflect on one's own education, asking questions such as what are we taught about the world? More importantly, what are we taught about the role our education played in dividing the world? Are we taught anything at all?

It becomes evident that "we are taught to discriminate in both the most innocent and fateful ways so that we can appreciate the differences between civilized and primitive, West and East, first and third worlds" (Willinsky, 1998, p.1)
It would be interesting if you could bring up examples from your own education where you were taught to discriminate. Please share experiences in the discussion section below!

Moreover, what is most important is for us to fully realise the extent of educational accountability, as both educators, students, or educators-to-be, “the young are owed an explanation of how such divisions have come to mean so much" (Willinsky, 1998, p.5) .

Thus, as pointed out in the end of the first chapter, this book is structured in a way to present the historical background to how education was used as an imperialist tool in order to divide the world, while also teaching the world the divisions it has created. The second, third and fourth chapters are historical chapters exploring the ways in which imperialism determined to take a knowing possession of the world (chapter 2), the role of museums in putting the world on public display (chapter 3), and an exploration of the forms of education used to serve the colonial states, and the colonised population (chapter 4). Lastly, chapters five to nine will each be dedicated to an educational subject, exploring its origins into colonialism, and its legacy during both the 1960s and today (or, in the book's case, the late 1990s). These subjects are History, Geography, Science, Language and Literature.

A few more discussion points, apart from the ones mentioned earlier, would include:
1. What does educational accountability entail? And how does it fit with our movement of "dismantling the master's house"?
2. Colonialism, education and identity are interlinked, as highlighted especially by the title of the chapter "Where is here?"
Do you have any experiences which support or refute this notion?

Please feel free to add more points!


Sareh Wed 29 Apr 2015 2:08PM

Thank you to everyone who came to today's reading group session. For those who couldn't make it, we were discussing chapter 1 of Prof John Willinsky's ‘Learning to divide the world: Education at Empire’s End’, entitled 'Where is here?'.

Please find the first chapter here: http://goo.gl/Oj9QFy (pdf).

@MahmoudArif gave a summary of the chapter and then opened up the discussion to the rest of the group.

We'll hopefully have a summary about what was discussed up here very soon. In the meantime, please feel free to use this space to continue discussing the themes of the chapter. If you were not able to come along today - what were your first impressions of this book? Feel free to ask questions, use this space as a sounding board, say what you felt resonated with you and what didn't - this space is for everyone to use.


Sareh Wed 29 Apr 2015 2:34PM

Just a few notices:
*If you like to tweet, please use the hashtag #educationalrepair.
*If you are interested in writing a blog post about this, for the http://www.dtmh.ucl.ac.uk website, please contact Nathaniel directly ([email protected])
*If you are on Facebook, there is a 'Why is my curriciulum white?' group https://www.facebook.com/groups/WIMCW/ which has many resources available.
*There is a related Twitter account which you can follow (https://www.twitter.com/ucldtmh)


Chikukuango Cuxima-Zwa Wed 29 Apr 2015 11:11PM

It was great today, attending the Reading Group. I learnt a lot, people contribute and gave different perspectives regarding the presentation and first chapter of the book: Learning to Divide the World (John Willinsky). Looking forward to share my views next week on chapter two.


Hajera Begum Thu 30 Apr 2015 3:56PM

I really wish we had more time because I wanted to pick up on a few points in @mahmoudarif's summary:

  1. How in the education system we are taught to differences and how this was used to divide the world.

I recently went to visit Bangladesh where both my parents were born. Speaking to my uncles who still live there, some of who are still in the education system, I was horrified but not really surprised to learn they need to memorise names and dates of UK prime ministers, learn about the royal family (incl. death dates!).
Through all this they are taught how great the British are and how 'backwards' Bangladesh is - continually regurgitating how grateful everyone should be to the British.

You may also have examples of how we are taught differences in the education system and how this is used to divide the world.

  1. Another interesting point Mahmoud mentioned that we didn't touch upon is how the white writer assumes colonialism is the reason certain people identify in certain ways and whether we feel his conclusion is correct and also what we feel about his assumptions.

I identify as bengali even though I am third generation British (through my dad's side) and I am pretty sure my children will feel the same. I think that's because I am constantly reminded that I am not british or rather being english = british so I don't think I would ever be accepted as anything other than bengali.

(sorry if this is very badly worded and unclear)


Diane Leedham Sun 3 May 2015 4:07PM

Thank you for sharing Hajeera. I learn so much from the lived experience of others. I know how vulnerable I am to white gaziness on these issues since, apart from being female, I experienced little dissonance in my education between what I was told and the white perks I was born to. I hope I am more alert now but there is no room for complacency. The siren song of privilege can still sneak past my guard if it's delivered with sufficient guile.

I wanted to add some links for everyone's consideration regarding the proposition last week that schools don't currently pay as much attention to curriculum as they do to pedagogy and assessment.

Although this may be true for some schools there is also vocal advocacy for a knowledge based curriculum, usually defined as providing cultural capital designed to benefit 'disadvantaged kids', rescue them from their culturally impoverished backgrounds and and get them to college. The world view of such schools is explicitly European and directly antipathetic to #educationalrepair - quite proudly so.

The following link is to a very zeitgeisty example at The Michaela Free School, as described in a senior leader's blog https://t.co/wWDus3mbom You might like to consider the school's Knowledge Organiser approach to South Africa. The majority of the children in this school are BME.

The next link is to a blog by another very influential young teacher planning a scheme of work on the British Empire
http://improvingteaching.co.uk/2014/06/07/detailed-planning-powerful-learning-what-do-i-want-students-to-remember-about-the-british-empire/ This teacher told me he had done postgraduate study in critical race issues and felt his curriculum design reflected this. You will note that Benjamin Zephaniah makes an appearance, eventually.

The next blogger has collected together a number of links about curriculum design by current educational movers and shakers https://pgcephysicaleducation.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/curriculum-design/
Knowledge, without explicit focus on whose knowledge or critical reading skills, is the common denominator of all the links.

I also draw your attention to a recent book about curriculum theory and design which is very popular amongst teacher/head teacher 'thought leaders' http://www.martinrobinson.net/writing.html

On a more cheerful note ... #educolor in the States now has a website http://www.educolor.org/ Members have shown interest and actively promoted #DTMH And here is a model of culturally responsive teaching which you might find interesting http://t.co/NZDNnypP2P

Look forward to seeing you all next week x


Diane Leedham Mon 4 May 2015 8:09PM

And here's a film clip to Common Core knowledge based curriculum approaches in the US http://t.co/GgIJ1u5LmD


Fabian Tompsett Tue 5 May 2015 4:19PM

I have blogged some hopefully not too idiosyncratic reflections on last weeks session here:


Sareh Wed 6 May 2015 10:44AM

@dianeleedham - Thank you for sharing all of these links!
With regards to the 'knowledge organiser' - although I can see the benefit for revision and memorisation of dates, I don't think it encourages any sort of critical thinking on the part of the student. Who decides what the important 'events' and people are? In the example given, I can see this is not the case, but in many cases where we have a very white curriculum, structures like this would, I think, just put emphasis on the Western white men who are said to be the bearers of knowledge and positive change. I think structures such as this are only as helpful as the teacher is critical and encourages pupils themselves to be critical.