Upskilling Tips for Dissecting the School Curriculum
By Meghan Capper, Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack
In this week’s issue, we are celebrating Black voices by sharing with you some top tips on dissecting the school curriculum. It is widely understood that more needs to be done to diversify the school curriculum, so we’re sharing some ways that we can all celebrate Black individuals’ achievements in publishing. We’ll be discussing who could get involved in making the change, suggesting books for the curriculum and including some useful resources that can support authors who are often left out.
Who can get involved and how?
● Parents and Guardians: You can ensure the books and media your children consume celebrate diversity and inclusivity in their content and authorship. By reading and discussing books on race, gender, sexuality and mental health with your children, you can show your children a multi-faceted picture of our society. Additionally, parents could support Black-owned bookshops in the UK, such as New Beacon Books, Roundtable Books, Afrori and BookLove (a travelling book carnival).
● Teachers: You can include influential Black authors/thinkers/speakers/politicians in your teaching and class discussions to ensure representation for all students. Roundtable Books have a specific “Black studies module” on their website, which is a great resource.
● Students: At university, students can choose modules that have Black authors on their reading lists. You can also take part in student committees that discuss issues of diversity and inclusivity within their student intake and also aim to “decolonise” the curriculum on courses. Alternatively, students can support marginalised voices by signing university petitions and attending protests or marches for Black rights at their university.
● Publishing Hopefuls and Employees: Those entering into the industry should support organisations such as the Black Writers’ Guild, Black Agents and Editors’ Group (BAE) and Big Black Books, who speak out against the inequality and lack of representation within publishing. Following influential Black publishers on social media channels, such as Jane Link’s bigblackbooks and Sharmaine Lovegrove is a good way to stay informed with discussions of diversity in the industry. Additionally, Jacaranda Books are committed to “creating space on the bookshelf” for Black authors and is a great place to start diversifying your reading.
● Exam Boards: They should present an inclusive list of authors and texts to choose from. This includes books on the English Literature and Language syllabus from diverse UK publishers, such as Penguin’s #Merky Books, Knights Of, Lantana, Dialogue Books and Verso Books.
Suggested Books for the Curriculum
● And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando: This book helps diversify literature by showcasing themes of suicide, mental health, loss and cyberbullying with characters from underrepresented backgrounds. Written by a Black British author, the story follows a teenage boy, Nathan, who lost his brother to suicide and tries to unearth the reasons why.
● Your Show by Ashley Hickson-Lovence: This details the extraordinary life of Uriah Rennie, the Premier League’s first and only Black referee. It explores how he overcame racial discrimination in Britain to create a successful career. Your Show can inspire young people and highlight the importance of determination and resilience.
● Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo: This book unravels the experiences of twelve Black British women. Evaristo covers women of various occupations, ages and classes, which provides a broad scope of identities across different times in Britain, which is underexplored in schools.
● Additional Suggested Authors: Bolu Babalola, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Patrice Lawrence, Maya Angelou, Jericho Brown and Alice Walker.
Publishing Resources Supporting Diverse Books
● Lit in Colour: Started in 2020 by Penguin Books UK and The Runnymede Trust, this initiative aims to support schools around the country to teach more inclusive content in English Literature. This includes commissioning more diverse books, as well as providing free teaching resources, book donations and more.
● Emerald in Publishing: This project focuses on diversifying the education sector. It provides more open source articles and gives academic authors from underrepresented backgrounds a platform to showcase their research.
● Diversifying the Curriculum Conference (2022): This virtual conference held annually explores the diversification of the UK’s curriculum through discussions with professionals and academics. It delves into increasing representation and making education more inclusive of diverse communities.
● Hackney’s Diverse Curriculum: This company specialising in school services launched this programme to highlight Black history and its contribution to the cultural diversification of the UK.
● Everybody In Charter: This charter focuses on children’s education and book publishing. It aims to increase inclusivity by partnering with publishers, booksellers, authors, teachers and organisations like The Bookseller, The Publishers Association and more.
Thanks for reading Issue Fifty-Seven! Join us again for Issue Fifty-Eight, where we will feature Part 2 of Upskilling Tips for Career Progression with two exciting interviewees.