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Teaching Black History Month Online

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

With Sheba Montserrat

My brief from IRIE! regarding the online Black History Month classes, was to explore the contributions of the Windrush Generation to British culture. This 5 weeks of lessons, would be delivered via Zoom to all the educational Key Stages.

That said, my aim was to the challenge the narrative around how we commonly see and speak of those young adventurers who came to the perceived motherland, primarily because they were invited to.

Our first session together was a quiz, which allowed me to discover the vocabulary of the learners, in respect to describing their elders. Who they were and why they were here.

We looked at the availability of the diverse foods we enjoy and their availability.

Fruit and veg such as coconuts, mangoes, plantain, sweet potato, yam, dasheen, okra. To name but a few, are here due to the dietary needs of the Windrushers, not to mention the array of seasonings beyond just salt, white pepper and vinegar which they found when they arrived.

We looked at the Caribbean and its structure of Greater and Lesser Antilles. The culturally dominant islands of Trinidad and Jamaica, and how they have gifted the world with carnival, its arts and traditions and Reggae music. The learners researched and described Caribbean flags and the location of the islands they represented.

In week 3 the homework was to interview an elder about their journey to England, their hopes dreams and aspirations. Some students made major discoveries about their family members.

IRIE! Dance Theatre projects, always have movement and dance hovering nearby and ready to be included in anything we do. So when we studied the history of carnival, students danced and expressed freedom through movement, right where they sat.

We also looked at the variety of words in the mainstream which were assimilated from Caribbean culture such as free up, big up, mash up and sound system.

The best thing about teaching these Zoom sessions, was that most students had their parent’s right there beside them, adding to the learning experience of all participants.

I’m more than confident that my students understand why they can call their grandparents or great-grandparents, pioneers. And that they are here because they were invited to come and help the post-war motherland get back on her feet.

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