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Crafting an antiracist curriculum: Rehumanising

Yusuf Ibrahim

Wales first Anti Racism Curriculum – miniseries:  As Wales moves to becoming an Anti-Racist Nation by 2030, this article explores the role of curriculum in ‘rehumanising’ our understanding of the world.

How do you create a new curriculum?  This was the challenge that befell me in October 2022.  I enjoy challenges. I enjoy the struggle; finding solutions to emerging problems and above all, I love working with big ideas, nuancing them, refining and shaping them into reality.  Designing a new curriculum, in line with Wales’ Anti-Racist Action Plan certainly ticked these boxes.  The opportunity to create and bring people together for a common cause is certainly something I relish!

Embracing Antiracism: Navigating Perspectives in a Polarized World

As a Muslim, mixed-race, English migrant, I feel proud and privileged to live in Wales.  Currently the only country that has committed at a national level to becoming antiracist by 2030.  The term ‘antiracist’ itself can be controversial.  There are those who associate the term with specific political ideologies.  Others view it as a broader expression that relates to a society become fairer and more just.

Whilst, I lean heavily towards the latter, it would be remiss for me not to acknowledge the legitimacy of the former.  Indeed, we live in a world of polar extremes.  A world where our information is collated from soundbites.  Our views are formed and refined at a rapid pace and in a time of information overload, our brains are adapting.  The superficial overpowers the meaningful, the quick win, the simple decision usurps the considered complexity in real and tangible action.  We naturally gravitate to either ‘the right’ or ‘the left’.  The in-between is too messy and inconvenient for us it seems (notice I don’t say ‘the centre’, we’ll come back to this later).

Fostering Shared Humanity: An Antiracist Curriculum for Welsh Further Education

This is the context in which I was asked to lead the design of a new antiracist curriculum for the Further Education (FE) sector in Wales.  A challenging environment of extremes where our views (on the surface at least) appear to be spread across a great chasm.  As a lover of big ideas, why could this not be an opportunity?  A chance to create something that would allow us to reflect.   To reflect on who we are, our identities, our responsibilities and our privileges.  If we consider the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s The Ten Stages of Genocide, stage four is dehumanisation.  It strikes me that in world of fast information, the tendency to filter and make judgements is powerful.  The paradox of having plentiful knowledge and a scarcity of wisdom is a plight that everyone of us should consider carefully.  To what extent do you hold yourself to account?

I am deliberately being personal (and potentially provocative).  I am a great believer in the first steps to change starting from within.  The society we live in, our institutions, our systems are all a reflection of our collective beings.  So, if we want to change things for the better, we need to in the first instance change ourselves. We need to learn how to ‘rehumanise’.  It is from this position that this new curriculum has been crafted.  It is a curriculum for all of us.  One that invites us to rediscover our shared humanity.

The term ‘craft’ can be defined as ‘to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity’.  This three-part mini-series will take you on the journey where a talented team of people came together to craft a curriculum that offers the opportunity to unify.  A team of people who come from different backgrounds and who express a range of cultural identities.  Critically, a team of people driven by their lived experiences of racism as well as those who have offered immense advocacy and allyship.  It will offer an insight into the care, skill and ingenuity of a group looking to inspire a new generation of thinking. Join me in the next article which will explore the role of ‘unfiltering’ in curriculum design.  

Yusuf Ibrahim, Assistant Principal at Cardiff and Vale College
By Yusuf Ibrahim, Assistant Principal at Cardiff and Vale College

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