I’ve become aware of moves by Michael Gove to redesign the History syllabus for children in our schools. His idea seems to include the removal of many famous women, and people of Black and minority ethnic heritage from the histories that our children will study.
As a health professional, I was aware of the inspirational story of Mary Seacole, and I am delighted that my daughter (age 6) was tasked with writing a project about her life over the Christmas holidays.
I’m including the work she produced in this blog, as I think it demonstrates clearly the value of including a rich heritage of narratives within our history curriculum in schools, and because she was an important figure in healthcare history who was sadly overlooked during our own recent past.
Mary travelled from Jamaica to provide care for soldiers during the Crimean war. She was not allowed to join Florence Nightingale’s band of nurses due to being Black, so she set up her own frontline “British Hostel” in Balaclava, Turkey, to provide care. Contemporary records show she often travelled onto the battlefield to provide first aid.
There is currently a drive to memorialise Mary with a statue, you can donate to this cause, see http://www.maryseacole.com/maryseacole/pages/mary_statue.html
For more information about the life of Mary Seacole, visit maryseacole.com
I commented about this issue, on The Green Benches, where I said
I am proud to have spent the afternoon helping my daughter complete her school project about Mary Seacole. What a great example of triumph over adversity, and illustration of why racism is unhelpful and wrong in society. And of course, we used the resources produced by Horrible Histories (on YouTube) to bring her story to life. I’m proud that my daughter has learned at 6 what many people seem to be unable to comprehend as grown adults.
Edit: There is a petition to request the Minister reconsider the decision to remove Mary from the curriculum. Please consider signing at: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/michael-gove-secretary-of-state-for-education-keep-mary-seacole-on-the-national-curriculum Thank you