‘Historic’ trip to London

Joe Brown, Reporter

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In spring of 2017, Dr. Robert Fitzgerald was able to take a trip to London through his Fulbright scholarship. While there, he worked at University of College London Institute of Education where he worked with his friends Dr.Robin Whitburn and Abdul Mohamud in a program called Justice 2 History. The purpose of this program is to bring Black British history into UK secondary schools.

Fitzgerald worked with them on strategies for making history curriculum more inclusive. “The curriculum that most students experience today, even in the States, is more Eurocentric,” Fitzgerald said.

This original trip has led to multiple international collaborations, including a conference with the History Department at Illinois State University in April of 2018. Fitzgerald’s British colleagues flew in and participated, sharing more of their inquiry practices in a presentation during this conference for pre-service teachers.

The April conference led to another invite to a one-day history conference for teacher candidates in London.  This time, social science teacher Kate Pole joined the collaboration. Pole was extremely enthusiastic about an all girls school named The Convent of Jesus and Mary Language College in Harlesden in London. This school was where Fitzgerald spent much of his time working during his Fulbright experience. He had previously observed classes there, taught several lessons, and then worked with the school’s history department on better ways to expand the curriculum.

Pole said the differences in an all girl environment were startling.

“It was so interesting to be at an all girls school. Girls just behave differently when there are no boys around,” Pole said. “They are more engaged.

Pole said the difference in school phone etiquette was especially noticeable.

“They can’t take their phones into the building,” Pole said. “(It was powerful to see) how interested they were in the US government and our political system.”

Pole was able to shadow a class and participate in a Q&A with the students, and she said she loved the educational environment.

“It was a super diverse neighborhood,” Pole said. “and we were the minorities, It made me see life from a different perspective and made me think about how my students that are minorities feel.”

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