David Livingstone Birthplace

Scottish Black History Piloting as Part of New Schools Programme Launching this Autumn

May 2021

David Livingstone’s Birthplace will reopen this summer with a new schools’ learning programme focussing on Scottish black history, anti-racism, learning for sustainability, outdoor learning, STEM and the arts.

The new schools programme will be a key part of the Museum’s work on recontextualising Livingstone’s story and its collection, and will be piloted when the schools return after the summer. It will be linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and Scotland’s historical role in slavery and colonialism. It will also look at how the Museum has reinterpreted David Livingstone’s story for today’s generation, and include new information on his family, crew members and associates who travelled on his expeditions in Southern Africa.

The schools programme is part of a major £9.1m regeneration of the Birthplace funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government and Historic Environment Scotland. It has been developed in consultation with the Museum’s Expert Advisory Group to support young people and teachers to think more critically and independently about equality and diversity, and how the impact of Scotland’s colonial history still affects society today. The Museum’s Expert Advisory Group was set up in 2020 in response to George Floyd’s death to support, challenge, and advise on subjects including Black Lives Matter, decolonisation, slavery, racism, and imperialism and is made up of specialists who regularly review the Birthplace’s objectives to ensure that they continue to reflect on-going discussions.

Museum Expert Advisory Group member, Emeritus Professor Sir Geoff Palmer Scotland’s first black professor and the newly appointed Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University who supports teaching slave history as part of mainstream education in schools said:

“The first time I heard of David Livingstone was at my school in Jamaica in 1950, I was ten years old. At present, I have the great honour of being a member of the David Livingstone’s Museum Expert Advisory Group which has transformed the Museum into an important centre for learning about diversity, equality and inclusion. I am delighted that the Museum will also focus on education because education can remove inequalities such as racism.”

Other topics the programme includes are Learning for Sustainability using the Birthplace’s surrounding parklands to get children and young people connected to nature and to understand their role in the world, both on a local and global scale; and visiting artist/maker-led workshops to encourage young people to think more critically and creatively.

The new learning programme piloting in 2021 will include:

  • For teachers: CLPL (Career Long Professional Learning) to support understanding and application of anti-racist education and Learning for Sustainability.
  • For school pupils: STEM, Victorians and the Industrial Revolution, Empire and Scotland’s role, outdoor learning for early years, and school activities relating to COP26.

The team is currently offering free virtual visits of the Birthplace exploring ”Global Lanarkshire” which include virtual object handling, and original source analysis. However, from the start of the 2021 academic year, the Birthplace will be piloting workshops, offering on-site school sessions, and providing blended learning materials and loan boxes containing activities, lesson plans and handling objects for use, all of which will be accessible for pupils with support needs.

Elena Trimarchi, Learning and Engagement Manager, David Livingstone Birthplace said:

“We want to develop links with teachers in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and globally and will be running regular professional development learning sessions and focus groups to continue developing our programme in the future. We ran our first teacher focus group in April, which was a huge success and generated really interesting discussions around the relevance of Livingstone for teachers and those working in education. As a team we are always questioning ourselves, evaluating and reviewing activities, and looking for external input from community partners and experts and we really hope the new programme will inspire learners of all ages to be active, anti-racist global citizens and critical thinkers.”

Robyn Feeny Class Teacher, David Livingstone Memorial Primary School and Nursery Class said:

“The team at the David Livingstone Birthplace delivered a fantastic virtual session for my Primary 6 class, linked to our social studies topic of Blantyre. Elena and Rosa organised a number of fun, educational activities, linked to CfE outcomes, that focused on the life of David Livingstone both here and in Africa. The children thoroughly enjoyed their first ever 'virtual trip' and I am pleased we have been able to work collaboratively with the centre in the lead up to their re-opening. Hopefully we will be able to visit the centre in real life very soon!”

Caroline Clark, Director, Scotland, The National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“This education programme is an important part of a wider programme of work which will help to bring the fascinating story of David Livingstone’s life and work to a wide range of audiences."

“Thanks to National Lottery players, the new Museum will help to illuminate and acknowledge some of the lesser-known aspects of David Livingstone’s story and broaden understanding around his life and legacy in the wider community."

“We’re delighted to support the project and look forward to the Museum’s re-opening in the coming months.”

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We are very grateful to our key funders the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Government for their support in helping us deliver the Birthplace Project.

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Scottish Government
Historic Environment Scotland

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