Pupil distressed after ‘best thing about slavery’ lesson

By The Ligali Organisation | Wed 31 October 2012

School defends offensive, comical ‘slave trade’ history lesson after 13 year old is humiliated and returns home almost in tears.

Teachers at the Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School have defended their usage of a powerpoint presentation called “What made slavery possible?” despite it causing distress to a 13 year old student.

The material which trivialises the tragedy of African enslavement became subject of a complaint by the mother who participated in a meeting attended by Miss Madden, the history teacher and Miss Horne, Head of Year. During this meeting the parent expressed how the method used to teach ‘the slave trade’ in this particular lesson had left her child, a pupil of African heritage, feeling both offended and humiliated.

However regardless of her complaint, both teachers failed to acknowledge the harm caused to the student and instead attempted to justify the use of the offensive teaching material. It was also revealed that the school had been using this resource and delivery approach to the subject for three years without objection.

The mother later received a follow-up phone call from Mr Clarkson, Head of History on Friday 12th October 2012, during which he basically reiterated the same views of his colleague.

Queen Elizabeths Girls School

Offensive Presentation

The lesson which characterised the rape and abuse of adolescent females as having ‘an affair with a beautiful African girl’ also included inappropriate tasks for students where the objective was for pupils to explain how they would organise a ‘slave raid’ to capture Africans. The presentation instated that “Every person in the group must have a business proposal” devising a plan to enslave African people for the ‘Dragon’s Den’.

The mother wants the school to acknowledge the fact that her daughter suffered distress and be reassured that in the future the topic is taught using learning resources that are sensitive to the horrors of African enslavement and do not include tasks seeking children to recreate or reimagine the horrific events.

She wrote; “It would be beneficial if such sensitive issues had some kind of parental involvement. Whether it be an Open Evening or a newsletter which gives an insight into what methods would be used to teach slavery, giving parents the opportunity to comment/approve.”

Offensive Resource: Disrespectful racist content

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