Decolonising the curriculum all the way to the burger bar

by Colin Campbell

MEMBERS of the Highlands and Islands Students Association have voted in favour of “decolonising the curriculum” of the Highland University.

It’s not clear how many of the thousands of students who go there to work towards getting a good job and a fulfilling career are in favour of this move.

Decolonising…the University of the Highlands and Islands.

And it’s not clear how many even understand what it means.

A spokesman for HISA explained: “As concerns are rising across the country regarding the narrowness and one-sidedness of university programmes, decolonising the curriculum will be a crucial step for the University of the Highlands and Islands in broadening the institution’s intellectual vision to include the voices and perspectives of under-represented groups.

“We hope this now passed motion will enable HISA and the university to work together to provide an education that is more in line with 21st century values.”

Presumably students who left this year or last, or indeed in a number of previous years, have been denied an education that is in line with “21st century values”.

Do they feel, as they settle into their new jobs, that they were subjected to “narrowness and one-sidedness” in their tuition while they were at the UHI?

And that they have lost out accordingly?

I wonder.

Of course when you hear people talking about imposing “21st century values” they mean their personal definition of 21st century values, whatever these may be.

I very much doubt if former students of the UHI will spend much time reflecting on the stance taken by HISA, or even in trying to work out what it is.

They’ll be too busy knuckling down to their jobs and carving out a good future for themselves.

“Decolonising the curriculum” may be a priority for students who have enough time on their hands to ponder over such densely obscure matters.

Well they’ve made some kind of point and perhaps they should now move on.

And get down to working hard so that they can emerge from university with the knowledge and abilities that justify the taxpayers’ money invested in getting them there.

That means more time on studying and less time on decolonising.

Because if they devote too much time to thinking high-minded thoughts about the latter they’re liable to emerge into the cold, harsh reality of the real world and decolonise themselves all the way to a job in a burger bar.

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