...I'm all for a bit less Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, Galileo and Copernicus, if it means a bit more McCoy, Banneker and Carver. It's a question of balance. It's important.Who are they, you ask? What have they done to be bumped up ahead of those greats?
Well, I had to Google them. Carver was a botanist who got poor farmers to grow alternative crops, McCoy was a big cheese in the world of industrial lubrication (Woo!), and Banneker appears to be most famous for making a wooden clock...
So, why should we elbow aside the greats of history? Only one reason:
It's a question of balance. It's important.There you go.The only thing that can possibly give kids ambition is to see other kids that look a bit like them.
I talk it over with Joe, a black school governor. Get the black scientists on the curriculum, he says. Black engineers, black investors, black surgeons. "If I see another school trying to boost black achievement by talking about black pop and sports stars, I am going to do someone a serious injury," he says. At a young age, the only limit most kids have is their ambition, says Joe, and yet we limit those ambitions. "What's the best they see to aim for? A West Indian takeaway. A barber shop, if they are lucky. Who plants the seed in their minds that they might be a metallurgist or a physicist; that people who looked a bit like them have already done it?"
Never mind are they any good, are they the right size, shape and colour...
There is black history month, I tell him. We are lucky to still have that. No sign of a Polish history month, a Chinese history fortnight or even a Pakistani history week. But it's stuck, he says. On Mary Seacole, and Martin Luther King.Oooh, that reminds me! Wasn't it MLK who said that he wanted to see a world where the only criteria that mattered was the colour of a man's skin?
No, wait, that's not right, is it?
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Oh, Martin. You'd turn in your grave if you saw what passes for today's 'leaders'...
Update: As NickM over at 'Counting Cats...' shows, that's something the ladies want in on too.