Introduction to Decolonisation

Lesson Plans: Week 10

Living decolonially (micro)

ILOs for the convener and students this week:

  • Apply knowledge about decolonisation to explore colonial legacies of commodities and concepts encountered in everyday life.
  • Demonstrate understanding of how to start the process of unlearning and reflect on how, as individuals, to live decolonially in daily life

Lesson Structure

Activity 1: Group research project on commodities (allocated time: 25 minutes)
To understand the context and purpose of the mini research project, the convener should have students read about sage smudging.
The convener should split students into small groups and have them choose an everyday commodity such as sugar, coffee, tea, or cotton. Each group will then research the social history of the commodity, preparing enough material to allow them to share a brief summary of what they have learned with their peers. They should focus on the following:

  • How the chosen commodity has been cultivated and farmed throughout history
  • Who owns the supply of the commodity
  • How much the average farmer is paid for their work

After the presentations, the class can have a group discussion touching on the following questions/prompts:

  • Can you think of any other similar commodities with colonial histories?
  • What are your personal perspectives on those findings?
  • How can you consume commodities in a more decolonial and sustainable way?

Activity 2: Discussion on decolonising language (allocated time: 10 minutes)
Building on the previous activity, the convener should hold a group discussion about whether there are similar patterns with abstract ideals and concepts:

  • What is the relationship between colonialism and language?
  • How can we use language in a more decolonial way?

Activity 3: Unlearning exercise (allocated time: 20-25 minutes)
The convenor should select one of the following exercises (from the Toolkit for Collective Reflection and Unlearning) for the class to undertake. (Alternatively, the convener can also ask the students to do one of these at home as part of their reflective journal. This can be organized in any way that works for the group, either starting with students working on their own, in pairs or small groups. Preferably, students will start the task reflecting on their own, and then move to work collectively.)

Option 1: How to unlearn. Write a ‘how-to’ instruction about unlearning. When doing this, treat unlearning as a habit. Imagine old, problematic knowledge as a bad habit you want to break with. What is the best way to challenge yourself and get rid of that habit? Look at your experience or knowledge of habit tracking, habit stacking for inspiration. Could you replace the old habit with a new habit? How would that work?

Share your ideas with each other. You can revise your ‘how-to’ instruction based on the ideas of others. But make sure to end this exercise with a version of the instruction that would work for you personally! Everybody is different and it is important that you have your own personal guide that does take into consideration your character, strengths, experiences, etc. Try to make use of these instructions whenever you are introduced to new knowledge that challenges an old belief that you would like to unlearn.

Option 2: Encouraging unlearning. In pairs, imagine a scenario in which you have a discussion or debate with a parent, friend, family member or teacher. Preferably, choose a person whose behavior or points of view you consider problematic in the sense of them reproducing oppressive narratives (colonial, sexist, racist, ableist, classist, etc). Together, write a short play in which you (or a fictional character) challenge the views of this person. How do you best encourage them to unlearn? Is there a way to be gentle and firm at the same time? What would the other person need to hear to actually reconsider their views/behavior? What would prevent their unlearning?

In groups, discuss the following scenario: If you took on the role of the person being challenged, what value can you find in your play for unlearning your own problematic views? Can you challenge yourself by integrating the strategies in self-talk?

Supporting information for this lesson can be found here.