Black History Month At Forge

During black history month we developed resources right across the curriculum. We wanted to share some of the work from students and how our departments approached and celebrated black history.

KS3 science students have been looking at figures from past and present and how their work has contributed to advances in their fields. These included Mae Jemison (and how she became the first African American woman in space), Dr Daniel Hale Williams (who performed the first ever open heart surgery) and Garratt A Morgan who designed the precursor to the modern gas mask.

As part of Black History Month in music and PA we had a performer of the week. This was displayed outside of the classrooms so students could see each week who we were discussing in their lessons. Students would then get information about the performers and how they have shaped the industry and inspired other black actors or musicians. We then showed them several video clips that demonstrated how inspirational each performer is and the work they have or are currently doing. This then led to some great discussions as a class and students were also keen to see who we had selected/displayed at the start of each week. Students in year 9 were asked to research the performer 'Misty Copeland' and complete a review of her performance in Swan Lake or Romeo And Juliet the ballet.

Art students in KS3 embraced the impressive and detailed pen landscape illustrations of artist Stephen Wiltshire. Stephen Wiltshire MBE, Hon.FSAI, Hon.FSSAA is a British architectural artist and autistic savant. He is known for his ability to draw a landscape from memory after seeing it just once. His work has gained worldwide popularity. In 2006, Wiltshire was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to art. Students were shown a video of Stephen Wiltshire, drawing cityscapes from memory and were amazed at his detailed architectural illustrations. Inspired by his artwork, students produced detailed studies of architecture in the style of the artist.

Art students in KS4 were introduced to the lively, bold and colourful murals created by US artist Reggie Laurent. Reginald Laurent has been described as a “master colourist” by art experts, and he is one of the premier abstract artists in the United States. His art is a labyrinth of shapes and forms that are full of colour and detail that harmoniously blend to form a unified entity. Inspired by the imaginative Murals, Students produced bold designs incorporating Reggie’s colourful patterns into their artwork.

Art students in KS5 are currently working on an architecture project. To inform their own ideas and artwork, they were introduced to the US architect, Paul Williams. He has designed numerous houses for celebrities. He is inspirational because he won a national competition at the age of 25. He was an outstanding draftsman and he perfected the skill of rendering drawings upside down as many of his clients at the time were unable to sit alongside him due to segregation.

In PE, teaching staff introduced a mini profile of influential black athletes/sports people for each practical activity covered at the start of each lesson. To reinforce this and to celebrate October as Black History Month, students were given the task to create a fact file on an inspirational black sports person. This person may have been someone inspiring due to the challenges they may have had to face or simply because they were or are amazing at their chosen sport.

In geography we have a ‘Geography in the News’ noticeboard on which we have highlighted the importance of Black History Month. We have also trialled a new series of lessons focusing on the ‘Green Book’; a travel guide published from 1936 to 1964 by Victor Hugo Green, a postman from New York City, and crowdsourced by African Americans across the country at a time before email or the Internet. The books helped African Americans find safe places to get fuel, spend the night, eat, or use a public toilet during the era when segregation and discrimination was widespread. Students watch sections of a film about the book and then plan a road trip across two US states, imagining they were US citizens at the time of segregation.

In business studies we have celebrated Black History Month by looking at famous black entrepreneurs. Students have had the opportunity to learn more about famous entrepreneurs and learn about their product inventions. One example of a famous black entrepreneur is Levi Roots. In class, we watched his pitch to the Dragons. Students were intrigued by his quirky and charismatic personality and were inspired as he pitched his 'reggae reggae' sauce in the hope of receiving an investment from the Dragons. Students then had the opportunity to research their own famous black entrepreneur and present this in the form of a fact file. Examples of chosen entrepreneurs include Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and George Foreman.

Students in English have been reading a diverse range of literature, writing after being inspired by Rudy Francisco's poem complainers and working with a poem by Maya Angelou called Still I Rise.