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Decolonising curriculum knowledge: A scholarly journey from the local, to national and international perspectives

Marlon Moncrieffe, President Elect at British Educational Research Association

I began decolonising curriculum knowledge 25 years ago. The tragic murder of the Black British teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993 was the catalyst of my activism in education, research, teaching and learning. Like me, Stephen was from South London. Like me, Stephen was a young Black British man. His murder could have been mine, or that of my brothers, or my male cousins. His parents’ grief and tears could have been those of my parents.

Recommendation 67 of the Macpherson (1999) inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence stated on page 382:

‘That consideration be given to amendment of the National Curriculum aimed at valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, in order better to reflect the needs of a diverse society.’

This in fact was a recommendation for the national curriculum to be decolonised.

1999 was also the year that I began my training as a primary school teacher. I was not trained to become a critical curriculum thinker. I had to learn this myself. Teaching and learning for social justice in advancing anti-racism became my focus through the primary school history curriculum.

Unfortunately, national curriculum policymakers have continued to ignore Recommendation 67 from Macpherson (1999). They claim that our national curriculum for teaching and learning British history is ‘broad and balanced’ in aims and contents. This is untrue. Moncrieffe (2020) makes DfE (2013) naked, exposing this as a hegemonic ‘White Lives Matter’ only national history curriculum policy document.

The Chartered College of Teaching asked me in 2020 to support their membership with generating opportunities to engage with more critical ways of thinking and knowing about British history. They have now produced innovate teaching and learning training materials to support the decolonising and diversifying of curriculum knowledge. I look forward to sharing my research findings on the impact of this work.

Over the last four years, I have extended my research and writing collaborations in advancing anti-racism for social justice through a unique range of global academic interdisciplinary perspectives, now published through a book entitled Decolonising curriculum knowledge: International perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches (Moncrieffe, 2022). This work offers educational insights from the UK, Nepal, South Africa, Namibia, Australia, Colombia, Canada, Thailand, Mauritius, Poland, Russia, Norway and the Netherlands.

My co-authors and I journeyed together with the following proverb in mind:

Si quieres ir rápido, ve solo. Si quieres llegar lejos, ve acompañado.

यदि तिमी छिटो जान चाहन्छौ भने एक्लै जाऊ, यदि तिमी टाढा जान चाहन्छौ भने सँगै जाऊ ।

Ukuba ufuna ukuhamba ngokukhawuleza, hamba wedwa. Ukuba nifuna ukuya kude, hambani kunye.

Si to anvi al vit, mars tou sel. Si to anvi al lwoin mars ensam ek lezot.

ไปคนเดียวอาจไปได้ไว แต่ถ้าอยากไปได้ไกลเราต้องไปด้วยกัน

Hvis du vil gå fort, gå alene. Hvis du vil nå langt, gå sammen.

Если хочешь идти быстро, иди один Если хочешь идти далеко, иди вместе.

Jeśli chcesz iść szybko, idź sam; jeśli chcesz zajść daleko, idź z innymi.

Als je snel wilt, dan ga je alleen. Als je ver wilt, dan ga je samen.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

This book offers the reader unique case studies of decolonising curriculum knowledge through research, teaching and learning, in advancing anti-racism for social justice, for sharing quality education, and in challenging the inequities and inequalities stated by the aims and contents of national curricula discourse within our global focus.

Our international book launch will be on Friday 18 November at 1pm UK time.


Department for Education [DfE]. (2013). History programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2. National curriculum in England.

Macpherson, W., Cook, T., Sentamu, J., & Stone, R. (1999). The Stephen Lawrence inquiry: Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, CM 4262-I. Stationery Office.

Moncrieffe, M. L. (Ed.). (2022). Decolonising curriculum knowledge: International perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches. Springer Nature.

Moncrieffe, M. L. (2020). Decolonising the history curriculum: Eurocentrism and primary schooling. Springer Nature.