Decolonising the Curriculum - Transnational Perspectives

Marlon Moncrieffe (Editor), Richard Race (Editor), Rebecca Harris (Editor), Dorrie Chetty, Nighet Riaz, Pere Ayling, Thithimadee Arphattananon, Kamil Nasilbullov, Nataliia Kopylova, Shirley Steinburg

    Research output: Book/ReportScholarly editionpeer-review


    From the Rhodes Must Fall campaign at the University of Cape Town (and, subsequently, the University of Oxford) to the Why is My Curriculum White? debate at University College London, decolonising the curriculum is a hot topic in education. The decolonising the curriculum movement is engaged in an epistemological struggle: it has fostered support and action for change in schools, colleges and universities, but has also met with resistance to the challenges it poses.

    As Dorie Chetty discusses, the demand for the decolonisation of the curriculum is not new, but today it has greater momentum thanks to a greater sense of awareness among students from minority- ethnic groups who want to see their experiences reflected in the curriculum. This view is reinforced by Nighet Riaz, who explains why a decolonised curriculum can support opportunities for black and minority-ethnic educators and students to understand who they are. Pere Ayling, in her article, writes about how this can be achieved by adopting and utilising the colonial habitus to explore how dominant discourses, operating at the subconscious level, shape and influence our thoughts, actions and perceptions.

    Decolonising the curriculum takes deliberate effort. Educators need to recognise that the curriculum largely reflects the dominate social group, and therefore can establish a narrow, monocultural view of the world in which ‘others’ exist only on the margins. Decolonising the curriculum is therefore about seeing and appreciating the world – past, present and future – by ensuring that the views and voices of marginalised groups are heard, acknowledged and appreciated. Such an approach benefits all members of society.

    Today’s educators and academics are detecting and exposing the competing ideological and political motives behind national history curriculum design. Rebecca Harris’s article is an example of this work: in it, Anglocentrism, ‘whiteness’ and ‘white privilege’ are challenged by a call for the diversity of human experience to be at the forefront of history curricula, and for teachers to be trained as ‘critical curriculum thinkers’. These ideas are picked up by Marlon Moncrieffe in his article, which provides an example of decolonising the narrative of mass- migration in the key stage 2 history curriculum. The piece by Richard Race also exposes and reflects upon the integrationist and monocultural design of the national curriculum over the years, arguing that the original national curriculum in England, introduced in 1988, ‘was a Brexit policy 30 years before Brexit’.

    An exposure of inequitable forms of monocultural nationalism and national identity in Thailand is articulated by Thithimadee Arphattananon. She shares a picture of curriculum inertia and an unchallenged agenda of cultural assimilation in education, fuelled by a teaching of ‘Thai-ness’ that imposes and reproduces a national identity. This type of monocultural dominance of curriculum content and supporting textbooks is also a concern for Kamil Nasibullov and Nataliia Kopylova, who use examples from their research on school music textbooks in Russia to discuss how cultural representations of ethnic Russians have become increasingly dominant, at the expense of minority- ethnic groups. The final article in this collection, by Shirley Steinburg from Canada, champions the notion of decolonising the curriculum while posing a multitude of critical and challenging questions about precisely where and how this process should begin.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherBritish Educational Research Association
    Number of pages36
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

    Publication series

    NameResearch Intelligence
    No.Issue 142
    VolumeSpring 2020


    • Decolonialising the Curriculum
    • Transnational Perspectives
    • Anti-Racism
    • Critical Multiculturalism
    • Pedagogy


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