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History of African Descent – students’ perspectives on learning

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Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. The 2022 theme for Black History Month is: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day,” which focuses on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make. Follow us for the month of February as we learn how the District celebrates Black History Month with our school communities.

As we begin to mark Black History Month, students enrolled in the History of African Descent in BC course share their learning experiences. Their perspectives really bring to life this year’s Black History Month theme: February and Forever.  

Students taking History of African Descent in BC a Board authorized course, was developed at the Vancouver School District with the support of the African Descent Society BC. It is being offered this school year for the first time. Because it is a District course, senior students from schools across the District are able to enrol. The course is currently being taught at Vancouver Technical Secondary School, with attendance by students from other secondary schools. 

Madame Fester, the course teacher, joined the Vancouver School Board meeting on January 31 together with two students, Quincy and Connor. Together they spoke about their learning journey in the course. Other classmates contributed their perspectives and motivation to take the course via a video compilation aired at the Board meeting.   

The course’s learning activities are varied and include in-class sessions, virtual exchanges and field trips – including to the Art Gallery of Vancouver and the Museum of Anthropology – as well a unit exploring graphic novel story telling. The lessons, resources and materials provide for deep critical analysis and discussion by students.  

Madame Fester says the course is joyful to teach and acknowledges the scope pf learning reflects the African diaspora of yesterday and today. The curriculum, she informed the Board, makes clear that, “Yes, there is a lot of difficulty and strife within Black history, but there is also joy and resilience.” 

Students indicate they enrolled in the course for a variety of reasons. For example, Orla says she wanted to “get a fuller perspective when looking back on our history.” Students also indicated they learned a great deal with course, including through examining the interconnectedness of oppression in society today. “We hear a lot about how racism is systemic, but this course actually provided insights to what systems are in place and the origin of the systems,” explains Tobias.  

“In this class,” explains Quincy, “we have productive discussions about race and it will be something that I will take with me in the future.” 

Check out what these students have to say about this course in video clips they shared

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