“We recognise that, in order to fulfil our educational mission, everyone in our community – our students, our staff, and everyone in our current and prospective families – should be able to see themselves reflected in the learning at Halcyon. Beyond this, in order to produce empowered IB citizens who are prepared to use their unique potential to ‘create a better world’, we must also ensure that our curriculum is reflective of all experiences and voices – including those that are often unheard, or have been historically overlooked.” - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Halcyon
The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme - through which we develop a curriculum aimed at nurturing communication, self-management, thinking, research, and social skills - has always encouraged our students to explore, analyse, and evaluate a variety of perspectives as they develop their self-understanding and identity within the world.
In Grade 10 history, it is imperative that our students are welcome to investigate parts of the past where certain voices and perspectives have previously been unheard. Grade 10’s Civil Rights unit has highlighted our students’ development of communication and research skills as they sensitively and carefully navigated the dynamics of the Atlantic slave trade, the US civil rights movement, and other social movements happening around us today.
History around us: investigating London and the Slave Trade
Reflecting on the slave trade from a local perspective added new depths and contexts to our students’ understanding of the civil rights movement.
Grade 10's trip to the 'London, Sugar, & Slavery' exhibition at the London Dockland Museums highlighted how London’s docks were instrumental in shaping the United Kingdom’s role in the international slave trade. Incorporating interactive features into the museum as a tool of showcasing the day-to-day brutality of slave labour, visitors were able to attempt using some of the manual work tools themselves: for example, students were able to experience how difficult it was to raise a bucket using a hand-controlled wheel, even without water. The exhibition powerfully communicated the normalisation of brutality against enslaved African men, women, and children.
History around the world: welcoming diverse perspectives
As an international school in London, we are grateful to hear a variety of cultural perspectives in classroom discussions on a daily basis. This greatly enriches the learning of both students and teachers - and we are always pleased to have the opportunity to welcome visitors to Halcyon that can support us in investigating diverse corners of history.
Our students benefited from Dr Eva Thorne's visit to Halcyon, who brought with her fascinating insights into the background of the civil rights movement in the United States from a personal perspective, including her own family's experiences as a reference point. Topics discussed housing redlining, the 1944 'G.I. Bill' (which excluded black veterans from receiving certain benefits on their return from war), the impact of bus boycotts, and more. We look forward to sharing our students' thoughts on this fascinating unit as we go forward.
Embracing agency: analysing and designing campaigns
The International Baccalaureate’s mission is to develop “inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world”. Hearing new perspectives is only part of this Grade 10 unit - they must also spend time (and will be assessed on) applying their understanding to designing their own museum exhibition and campaign for change. Grade 10’s collaborative online museum will showcase the history of the movements of a variety of different groups, covering LGBTQ+, environmental, gender, and religious movements.
The integrated Service element of IB provides students with the opportunity to take on the responsibility of making a real impact in the local community. Having considered how they might design their own campaign, Grade 10 will be able to connect with local London groups to plan their own fundraisers or awareness-raising activities.