The knowledge-rich project, coloniality, and the preservation of whiteness in schools: a raciolinguistic perspective

IAN CUSHING

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Abstract

Since the early 2010s, education policy in England has been shaped by so-called knowledge-rich ideologies of curriculum design, built around a purportedly essential body of knowledge which all children must be taught if they are to succeed in school and experience upward social mobility. The knowledge-rich project is underpinned by a colonial, missionary and conservative narrative that the homes of working class and racially marginalised families are illiterate, degenerate, and symptomatic of cultural, linguistic, and cognitive deficit – and these defects must be compensated for through Western-centric curricula. In this article I adopt a raciolinguistic perspective to trace the colonial histories of the knowledge-rich project and its emergence as a political and academic agenda in the 1980s. I argue that the knowledge-rich project is actively designed to sustain white supremacy through the systematic discrediting and annihilation of language practices of racially marginalised children, particularly those racialised as Black. I show how raciolinguistic ideologies are integral to the knowledge-rich project, circulating through racist perceptions about language and society which frame racialised children as displaying linguistic inadequacies which carry a threat to social and national cohesion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalEducational Linguistics
Early online date28 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • anti-Blackness
  • coloniality
  • knowledge-rich
  • raciolinguistic ideologies
  • schools
  • white supremacy

Research Centres

  • International Centre on Racism

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