3 techniques we can make improvements to instructing about the slave trade

The Glasgow Museums’ portrait of the Glassford household depicts a tobacco baron’s prosperous family. Hidden in the background is an African boy, held in slavery as a servant.

This graphic illustrates Scotland’s relationship with slavery: a rich white household dominates while the enslaved people today who built this wealth are neglected.

More and more, there is additional knowing of this kind of issues in Scotland, with many colleges previously educating them. Even so, additional can be performed, which include:

  • Generating pupil-friendly products that describe Scotland’s precise function in the trade.

  • Developing far better links amongst school teachers and teachers who are learning slavery.

  • Which includes extra specific reference in test courses to Scotland’s involvement in the slave trade.

Scotland’s slavery position has often been a blind location in Scottish history and instruction. For occasion, many guides that formed component of my 1990s historical past degree make no point out of it.

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In latest several years, different researchers have taken considerable measures to adjust this.

Lecturers such as Diana Paton, Tom Devine, Stephen Mullen and newer students including Matthew Lee and Nelson Mundell have made enlightening accounts. Regional historians are also illuminating their area’s connections, such as David Alston, who catalogues Highland involvement.

The future step is finding far more of this exploration into colleges.

Instructors encounter troubles in finding resources. A lot of the function that exists is spread throughout various resources – not normally effortlessly out there – or is not penned in pupil-friendly language.

To that end, I made – with input from lecturers and classroom lecturers – my individual website summarising Scotland’s slavery connections, “Scotland and Atlantic Slavery”, which you can obtain below.

Aimed at university pupils, it describes multiple facets of Scottish involvement, such as town, town and village back links. It information distinct people’s roles, as well, and has sections incorporating lesson thoughts, primary resources and historians’ sights.

My study associated going to at the very least 50 diverse sites, and making use of close to 20 books. Instructors across Scotland replicating these attempts would squander resources – we need to have to make shared elements additional readily available.

Producing much more these types of assets, especially if involving educational authorities, would only really encourage much more training in educational facilities. Encouraging much more immediate connections amongst academics and academics is also important.

Outside the house groups could be involved in these efforts, as well. For case in point, the BBC has developed lots of educational documentaries, but just after a period of time they can no for a longer time be accessed – could these be designed far more conveniently readily available?

The Scottish government has promised to do additional to train Scotland’s imperial historical past. This need to contemplate how to hook up instructors and academics, potentially such as more time and prospects for instructor CPD.

The examination system has a role to engage in, much too. The Atlantic slave trade is a topic in both equally Nationals and Bigger historical past. However, it falls inside the British segment of these system. Several teachers consist of Scottish connections when instructing, but possessing specific reference to Scotland in program outlines would really encourage far more being familiar with of the record of slavery and how it connects to up to date Scottish society.

The servant’s existence in the Glassford portrait was uncovered only by cleaning the picture following decades of dirt had obscured it – and education and learning can do the same to Scottish understanding of our country’s job in slavery.

Matthew Marr is a instructor of heritage in Ayrshire. He tweets at @mrmarrhistory

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