English Literature doesn’t need to literally represent race or social experience – it needs to capture pupils’ imaginations

As calls to decolonise the curriculum grow louder, we should consider what might be lost from the study of English literature if we do, writes Alka Sehgal Cuthbert in the Education Forum’s regular column for Teach Secondary magazine…

Illustration of people

The literature we choose for our curriculums doesn’t need to literally represent people in terms of skin colour or social experience, but it does need to be good enough that it can capture pupils’ imaginations, so that their capacity for vicarious experience – and vicarious relationships with characters – is extended and deepened.

Picture a class of 8- and 9-year-old Bengali boys and girls from inner London, enthralled while reading about the exploits of a white-skinned, red-haired orphaned tearaway called Pippi Longstocking who lives in a Swedish rural idyll.

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