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Had a good friend tell me today that a young mixed-race girl of 12, was speaking of ancestry in the classroom. As one of only two ‘mixed-race’ children in the class, she referred to Caribbean islands as where her ancestors came from.  The teacher, quite rightly tells her that her ancestors did originate from Africa but then because of a widespread flu epidemic they all left Africa for the Caribbean!

No mention of slavery. My friend is still in shock, wondering if the 12 year old just did not translate everything properly or if this really is the state of educators’ education on transatlantic slavery.

Being a teacher himself, my friend wondered if it was something to do with the limited amount of time available to be able to even broach the subject; or maybe he did not want the girl to be singled out as having slave ancestors. Whatever the reason, it’s most likely that the teacher is ill-equipped to tackle the subject confidently, leaving all the various descendents in the class with their self-esteem in tact.

There must be ways. Educating children on ‘the slave trade’ is tough it’s true. Like other sensitive subjects that reveal the Truth about the dark side of humanity that teachers try to educate children away from expressing. To be good boys and girls and responsible citizens we are bound.  But when teachers themselves are not educated on subject mentally nor had to chance to work the ideas through emotionally and politically,  teaching and learning transatlantic slavery will remain dangerous to the delicately developing adolescent and greater social psyche.

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