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“They Forge Their Own Iron Work”: The Transatlantic Slave System, African Iron Working, the Industrial Revolution, and Reflecting on Our Work

Discussion of teaching the African influences on the Industrial Revolution

Bram Hubbell
Bram Hubbell
8 min read
“They Forge Their Own Iron Work”: The Transatlantic Slave System, African Iron Working, the Industrial Revolution, and Reflecting on Our Work

When I taught full-time in the classroom, I believed in regularly having myself and my students reflect on how the course was going. Three or four times a year, I would devote a whole class period to have students share their thoughts about the course. We would begin with a short informal student evaluation of themselves and the course. We then would have an open conversation where students could tell me their thoughts (both what worked and didn’t work for them), and they had the opportunity to hear each other. I always made it a point not to respond to individual critiques until all students had spoken. At the end of the class period, I allowed students to provide any last anonymous feedback. By creating a regular culture of reflection, students felt more invested in their own learning process and the course. I also was able to tweak my course to help students.

Along with regularly soliciting student feedback, I kept a running note of topics I wanted to teach differently and lessons I needed to work on. Before breaks and at the end of the school year, I reviewed my materials to identify what I felt went well and what I wanted to change. Having made my list, I could go on break and completely step away from thinking about my courses. Later in the summer, I would open the note when I began preparing for the next school year.

I started publishing Liberating Narratives as a weekly newsletter in September 2022. Along the way, I haven’t taken enough opportunities to reflect on what I’ve published. Summer in the northern hemisphere is around the corner, which means I’ve been writing regularly for almost two school years. It seems like a good time to look back this month at what I’ve written and identify topics and posts I wish I could change or tweak. I also encourage readers to share feedback with me.

In this post, I will look back at my posts on the Industrial Revolution from September and October of 2023. As I wrote these posts, I wrestled with including resources about a significant change in how we understand industrialization’s technological origins and its relationship to the transatlantic slave system.

What I Liked


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