History is always written from someone’s perspective. It is always subjective. Whenever we share, write, or tell a story it is coloured by our view of the world, our lived experience and often tinted by prevailing views at that moment in time. History is recorded by those in positions of power who have the wealth to ensure their voices are heard through time. We know there are many stories that are untold and unrecorded, and that over time, views and societies’ norms change.
As historians, we encourage pupils to look at each piece of source material as evidence. We can balance different viewpoints within a historical context; however, our viewing of it is still problematic because again we bring our own lived experience to the materials we view, how we read them and what we do with them. We are not, and never can be, neutral. We can explore stories in different ways, listen to other people’s lived experience and view history though their eyes.
Talking openly about postcolonial history, and how it affects the world today, will involve potentially difficult and challenging conversations. It may contain triggers around lived experience of racism, migration, abuse and violence. You may wish to talk about ground rules with the class, and look out for language around ‘otherness’ and difference.
We will explore some structures to help scaffold conversations around sensitive and difficult histories, and help to unpick different perspectives, and layers of subjectivity that can be complicated to unravel with pupils in class.