Education · Whiteness & racism

Race-conscious primary teaching

You Wouldn't Understand...: White Teachers in Multi-Ethnic ClassroomsYou Wouldn’t Understand…: White Teachers in Multi-Ethnic Classrooms by Sarah Pearce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In response to this article I commented:

I can highly recommend this book which I read during my PGCE. It’s written by a White woman teaching in a multiracial school (White readers will find the dismantling of her assumptions and development of her ideas helpful). One issue she highlighted was the fact that many of the children had British parents (even grandparents etc), and even those who didn’t usually had limited experience of the countries of their parents’ heritage. There seemed to be a few good books available about children living in other countries, but almost none about Children of Colour in Britain, like her students (of course, the books from other countries are great and should be part of the mix!) These books need to be written and published and promoted far and wide

Another key point made by Pearce is that the home languages of bilingual students are not valued unless they are European – Farsi, Urdu, Hindi etc are not counted as languages in British schools! Thus students hide them, avoid using them, even deny speaking them, instead of celebrating a rare skill that has huge personal value and educational and economic potential.

Being faced with the problem of embarrassing your students with wrongheaded and misguided attempts at inclusion must cause many well-meaning White teachers to just give up and resort to “colourblindness”. As Micah Yongo commented on the post I linked to above, we need more teachers of Colour, but since White people will obviously continue to go into the profession in the UK, they should be trained to reflectively implement inclusive practice that actually helps children of Colour. The colourblind approach is a disaster for those children, and this book is a gift to any White teacher wanting to do better.

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