Entertainment

FOMO is the podcast giving unfiltered lessons on British history


The British school curriculum has never been particularly diverse, and for years activists and organisations have campaigned for a better, more inclusive syllabus. The Black Curriculum, for instance, was founded in 2019, while the ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ campaign began back in 2015.

But since George Floyd’s murder in 2020, calls to decolonise the curriculum have grown louder and louder. A petition asking the government to teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum even amassed over 268,000 signatures and was debated in the House of Commons – but still, nothing changed.

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a new podcast which hopes to address this head-on. It’s a new documentary series presented by young people living in the UK, about the bits of British history that school doesn’t teach you.

Over the course of six episodes, FOMO delves into the history of British colonialism, media reporting of queer communities, the police, segregated education in Northern Ireland, British activism and Scottish politics. It’s an accessible, in-depth look at the UK’s colonial, religious and political history, through the eyes of those it impacts the most.

Here, we speak to the podcast’s creator, Jesse Lawson, and host of episode three, Halima Jibril, about how they brought this project to life.

How did you come up with the idea for the series?

Jesse Lawson: So, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a series about the bits of British history that people aren’t talking about enough. Britain has always been pretty good at selectively remembering the bits of its past that paint it in a positive light.

People often talk about history as objective, but in reality the ‘facts’ you’re given, and the picture that paints, really depend on the choices made by the person who’s telling you the story. Being able to critically engage with the history you’re told is a vital tool. It’s really hard to build community or fight for a better world if you have an incomplete context for the present. 

I spent a year in 2020 working with 16-24 year olds for VENT Documentaries and a lot of them said the same thing: that they didn’t feel like the history they learnt at school was intersectional, and that it didn’t really acknowledge Britain’s complicated past. So I decided to see if I could get funding for FOMO – which could be a kind of ‘alternative resource’ for young people in the UK who want to understand their present better, by engaging with Britain’s past. 

Why is it important for young people – particularly people from marginalised groups – to learn about their own history?

Halima Jibril: History is told by the victors, by the privileged, and by the elite. The history we learn at school is completely whitewashed and when it isn’t, it’s watered down and completely flattened. For instance, when we learn about Martin Luther King Jr, his radical messaging is completely replaced purely with discussions about peace and non-violence. 

When we don’t get to learn about our own history, all the amazing things (and even not so amazing things!) our people have done, it can make marginalised people think that they lack importance, and that their history is not relevant and not worth learning about, when it absolutely is. There is so much power in learning about your own history, and the history of other marginalised people – it allows us to not only understand ourselves better and our systems, but understand each other better.

“There is so much power in learning about your own history, and the history of other marginalised people – it allows us to not only understand ourselves better and our systems, but understand each other better” – Halima Jibril

Why did you decide to have young people present each episode? And as there is so much important history left off the school curriculum, how did you decide which topics to cover?

Jesse Lawson: We wanted Fear of Missing Out to act as a resource for 16-25 year olds who are interested in learning about British history that they didn’t necessarily have access to at school. As this is a series aimed at a 16-25 year old audience, it made sense that it should be made by them too. 

I had an idea of the broad bases I wanted to cover over six episodes, then I started having conversations with young people – these conversations shaped the topics for the episodes. They cover things like British colonialism, media reporting of queer communities, the police, segregated education in Northern Ireland, British activism and Scottish politics.

Each episode is very personal to its presenter, but speaks to larger trends in British history. We wanted the series to be really accessible, and I think actually the more personal it is for the presenter, the easier it is for the listener to engage with it too.

Would you be open to creating and releasing more episodes in the future, to explore the other areas topics that the British education system glosses over?

Jesse Lawson: We’d love to make another series! If you know anyone who’s interested in funding it…?

FOMO is out now. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and more. Click here for more information.




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