A school in Kent, United Kingdom, created furor after it decided to teach students history by handing them an exercise in which they had to imagine a fictional slave auction.
As part of the exercise, eighth-grade students at Rochester Grammar School (RGS) were asked to imagine taking part in a slave auction. They had to pretend that they had a budget of £100 ($130) and they had to choose the best slave for their business after examining the characteristics of the slaves.
Rochester Grammar School in Kent thinks that in 2017 this is a funny idea. Please someone tell me what is this? pic.twitter.com/VN1kfX1F1m— Ashiwaju Bisi Alimi (@bisialimi) July 13, 2017
The worksheet titled “Slave auction: lots to be sold today” showed 16 different lots. They included, “Lot 3: 2 Krumen males slaves freshly imported from Liberia. Very good condition. Lot 4: 2 Chamba slaves. 1 male. 1 female. At 28, they offer good breeding potential” and “Lot 7: 4 Yoruba males, aged about 21. 3 are very strong, 1 less so.”
Despite the outrage, the school defended the exercise.
“We categorically condemn slavery and racism of any kind, whether historic or present, and are extremely proud of our multi-cultural school and the tolerant and inclusive atmosphere that we foster every day to ensure all our students are well-rounded young people,” said a school spokesperson.
The spokesperson further said, “This worksheet is not used in math but in the wider context of our history curriculum which follows the Historical Association's recommendations on teaching historical slavery, and is in line with the Department for Education's history curriculum which says students should be taught about the effects and eventual abolition of the slave trade.
“This means we absolutely teach students about the horrors of the slave trade, and the worksheet adapts primary sources of the time to illustrate the awful reality of slavery. We also include additional lessons on the horrors of the Middle Passage and life on plantations.”
While responding to the slave auction exercise, a Department for Education spokesman said, “It is inappropriate to engage in any exercise that appears to condone slavery. The national curriculum does not set any requirements for how teachers should teach individual subjects but schools should be professional in the choice of educational material they use.”
Kehinde Andrews, an associate professor in sociology at Birmingham City University, specializing in race and racism, said: “If this is how black history is taught in schools, then it is better they do not teach it at all.”
I keep wondering who advises/writes this part of the curriculum? This isn't the first time the 'mock slave auction' madness has come up.— John Byrne (@dearjohnbyrne) July 14, 2017
Yeah it's not the first time a British school has got in the news for doing a moc slave auction in school. https://t.co/FSGX21TFV8— Akala (@akalamusic) July 13, 2017
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters