Curriculum changes bring slave trade sharply into focus

16th February 2007 at 00:00
Ending Slavery: An unfinished business. By Terry Fiehn. Citizenship Foundation in association with the Church Mission Society. Download free at: Ages 14-16

The title of this thoughtful and well-constructed resource pack for RE, history and citizenship pays tribute to strong-minded and morally courageous men and women of the past; the subtitle warns us against contemporary complacency. The 47-page booklet takes its inspiration from the forthcoming bicentenary of the Act of Parliament which abolished the transatlantic slave trade, although it also reminds us that another quarter century had to pass before slavery itself was abolished within the British Empire.

Students at key stage 4 are given many opportunities to carry out research and role-play, to argue and to empathise, as they explore why slavery was acceptable and how campaigners from every level of society collaborated in getting rid of it.

They'll be taught about the work of William Wilber-force, Hannah More, Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano, about the sugar boycott of 1791, and the slave revolts in the West Indies.

But they will also have to consider how sex trading continues in the 21st century, how child soldiers and forced labourers still need to be liberated, and how modern poverty can be as harsh a taskmaster as a long-dead man with a whip.

Tom Deveson

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