I Heard What You Said

Jeffrey Boakye

09 June 2022
538 pages


An Amazon Best Non-Fiction Book of 2022

'Essential reading' -
The Guardian
'Sharp and witty with moments of startling candour' - The i
'Makes a powerful case' - Rt Hon Lady Hale
Revealing and beautifully written’ - David Harewood

Before Jeffrey Boakye was a black teacher, he was a black student. Which means he has spent a lifetime navigating places of learning that are white by default. Since training to teach, he has often been the only black teacher at school. At times seen as a role model, at others a source of curiosity, Boakye’s is a journey of exploration – from the outside looking in.

In the groundbreaking I Heard What You Said, he recounts how it feels to be on the margins of the British education system. As a black, male teacher – an English teacher who has had to teach problematic texts – his very existence is a provocation to the status quo, giving him a unique perspective on the UK’s classrooms.

Through a series of eye-opening encounters based on the often challenging and sometimes outrageous things people have said to him or about him, Boakye reflects on what he has found out about the habits, presumptions, silences and distortions that black students and teachers experience, and which underpin British education.

Thought-provoking, witty and completely unafraid, I Heard What You Said is a timely exploration of how we can dismantle racism in the classroom and do better by all our students.

'Hugely important' - Baroness Lawrence
'Deeply compelling, intellectually rigorous and essential' - Nels Abbey
'Personal and political, profound and playful' - Darren Chetty
'Written with passion, fury, knowledge and, in spite of the painful subject, wit' - Patrice Lawrence

Essential reading for teachers, those who run educational institutions, parents – but perhaps most of all for Black children . . . it could be a ray of hope.
Makes a powerful case: until we have rid our educational system of its dominant whiteness we cannot hope to give all our children the educational experience they need and deserve.
Brave, brutally honest, funny and necessary. Jeffery captures the Black teaching experience in such a powerful and potent way. The book of the year.