What is RACISM? 

After various different challenges, let me set clear my position on racism. After a google search of the definition of racism the above appears, to base a phronetic definition of something so complex on a dictionary definition is fickle. Using the dictionary in this way is also problematic with the inception of its very concept. (More here in this great article https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/reverse-oppression-cant-exist/)

Reverse racism does not exist. I cannot say this enough. All oppression is when people from a collective exert their power over another. When I’m saying power, I’m talking systematic and systemic power. That means that member of the global majority can hate white people all they want, the chances of them impacting of their life chances, the healthcare they receive, the judicial system, even abuse in the street, etc. is minimal.

What do members of the global majority face? UCAS has admitted it has more ‘work to do’ because black students are 22 times more likely to have their university applications investigated. 2675/260,550 black applicants investigated compared to 995/2,127,965 white applications. Just look at those numbers, let it digest, this is the body in charge of the gateway to university.

A black person is ‘four times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act’. It’s not that simple (other factors are in play), however, when coupled with the deaths of members of the global majority in police custody (6 out of 11 from 4/17-12/17) this isn’t looking great.

With the chair of the IPPC (police watchdog) saying ‘We need to look closely between the relationship between ethnicity and the use of force.’ Stop and search also disproportionately targets black people, to the tune of 9 times more likely to stopped and searched compared to white counterparts. Before you accuse me of making this up I have referenced some examples below.

“Young black people were more likely to be identified with ‘gang concerns’ and be considered a ‘risk to others’ on entry to custody than any other ethnic group between April 2014 and March 2016.”
Exploratory analysis of 10-17 year olds in the youth secure estate by black and other minority ethnic groups September 2017. Ministry of Justice.

This is absolutely the worst, in 2006 the Healthcare Commission published its first ever national review, which noted ‘some disadvantaged groups are more likely than others to fail to receive services. As well as the elderly, there are also inequities in provision that particularly affect people with mental health problems from black and minority ethnic communities. So do not be poor, black, old and depressed in England right now, because you’re very unlikely to get treated.’

Before I go on, I will state race is social construct, the differences in biological terms are meaningless, physical differences in skin colour have no natural associations with group differences in ability or behaviour. (Clair and Denis)

For sake of more clarity, for members of the global majority to be racist, this means that they would benefit from privilege and the societal structures of the system, looking at the articles and the lived-in experience of many, this simply is not and cannot be the case.

Cazaneve & Maddern 1999 and A Sivananden 1993 both express racism in terms of social power which stems from the competition of resources.


“Contemporary sociology considers racism as individual – and group-level processes and structures that are implicated in the reproduction of racial inequality in diffuse and often subtle ways”

Sociology of Racism. Clair and Denis

With the ‘processes and structures’ implying power and privilege and ‘reproduction of racial inequality’ implying discrimination, I conclude ‘Oppression = Privilege + Discrimination’ or Racism = Power + Discrimination.

Empirically, and this is an honest challenge, I am unaware of a single case of a race crime brought by the CPS to a member of the GM against a white person. A high profile case against Mustata Bahar was dropped after an incendiary tweet was unearthed, yet no charges around race were considered (see link below).

Yes, this may make you feel uncomfortable. This is a natural reaction to the challenge of a collectivist mindset. Hope this has made you think.

When I challenged, actually I was challenged to acknowledge my male lens on the world, I exhibited male fragility, however this was temporary. Hopefully this clears up the definitions of racism.

References and Further Reading

https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/reverse-oppression-cant-exist/

https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/matthewclair/files/sociology_of_racism_clairandenis_2015.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/03/bahar-mustafa-charges-dropped-killallwhitemen-row

Sivanandan, A. 1993, ‘Race against time: there isn’t just one form of racism in Britain, but two’, New Statesman & Society, vol.6, no.274, p16.

Cazenave, N. A. & Maddern, D. A. 1999, ‘Defending the White Race: White Male Faculty

Opposition to a White Racism Course’, Race and Society, vol. 2, pp. 25-50.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/dec/02/revealed-the-stark-evidence-of-everyday-racial-bias-in-britain

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/black-students-university-uk-racism-ucas-application-a8376501.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40495539

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/07/ipcc-concerned-about-rise-in-ethnic-minority-deaths-following-police-restraint

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/stop-search-black-people-white-police-racism-new-study-a8583051.html

Black people in England and Wales are almost nine times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched for drugs, according to a report.

http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/QuiteLikeHeaven.pdf

“So do not be poor, black, old and depressed in England right now, because you’re very unlikely to get treated.” p48

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/641481/Exploratory-analysis-of-10-17-year-olds-in-the-youth-secure-estate-by-bame-groups.pdf p8

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Heroes and Villans

Heroes

Heroes
Philosophers debate between individualism versus collectivism. Where the former focused on the goal of the individual over the collective and vice versa for the latter.

As no collective includes all members of the human race, all collectives including those of race, religion, class, belief system, etc. create their own idols. Each collective sets its narrative to state all decent people submit to it doctrine (some people are good, some people are bad). Sequentially, each collective or sub-collective worships its idols and rejects and denounces its rival’s idols.

All actions are determined by the individual, the collective not only cannot create perfect robots but can’t create meanings or goals for itself and here it is dependent on the whim of individuals. No matter how indoctrinated a collective is based on the will of individuals. All collectivism leads to dissonance and ultimately to the fall of all organisations and thus their doctrines.

Why do people tend toward the collective? I believe it’s due to the nature of bias, which is defined as a ‘habit of the mind’. This, like all habits, is because it is easier than denying yourself that very same habit.

Nietzsche actually called individuals that follow a collective part of the herd, inferior beings, because they are unable to create their own goals and meaning life. This part I am starting to agree with, it’s easier to build a pre-perception about someone based on your previous (sometimes hegemonic) experiences.

When was the last time you actually checked the impact of an initiative or recognized the evidence behind something you are preaching was anecdotal? Isn’t it easier to attribute your justification to the fact that someone else does too? I suppose this is how all advertising works.

I would hope everyone will agree that ‘the value of any knowledge and its concepts is within its content’, however, humans obsessed with attributing to people. Dr. Martin Luther King Said… Patel et al states… that film star wears … this draws on the same idolism.

When you see a working class, cis, man of colour with a thick accent, people’s brain switches back to your experiences with that group of people and starts to build meaning (note many of these are unconscious). This is fundamentally easier for the brain than talking to and evaluating the person based on their character, this is a natural function.

‘This person is good, that person is bad’. This narrative serves no intelligent discourse. We build a hagiography around our idols and propagate them as heroes to aspire to. This is crazy, we are inspired by people you have never met, reject known confirmed facts that denigrate them. You end up protecting your habit, your shortcut, your bias and through this you close your mind to knowledge.

M K Gandhi is a personal hero of mine, and this isn’t going to be a revere my idol section. He achieved some amazing things, however, he was certainly not infallible. Should I denigrate his actions and still hold his other actions in high esteem? Absolutely.

I have had various conversations with people about the hagiography around Winston Churchill and various people of colour (and members of the global majority) have suggested ‘People aren’t ready for this conversation’, when will people ever be ready to think out of their collective mindset?

Things I’m trying to do to enhance my experience;

Spending time engaging with things I normally wouldn’t.
Reading for content, not in reverence or vilification of the author.
Checking my bias every time I am in a position of power.

Teaching: it’s like magic!

This is a piece I wrote for @getintoteaching

 

Let’s all think about the great illusionists of the world. I’m thinking David Blaine or Dynamo; their acts are either based on the extremes of their skills (spending days without water and food) or absurdity (sawing a person in half or escaping from a strait jacket while submerged). In both cases, the laws of physics are questioned, and part of the thrill is trying to work out how it works.

I for one, always spend time on the ‘how did they do that?’ and I’m always left with a feeling of unfulfilment when I haven’t solved the problem.

Entering the teaching profession, you need to be able to give pupils the same thrills — yet at the same time not be scared of giving the act away. In fact, giving away the act is the main part of it. And yes, you will also have to develop some amazing skills along the way.

Personally, my specialism is science; and part of science is to explore and explain the world around you. Imagine developing the skills to bring alive curiosity and nurture the skills which allow pupils to view and understand the world around them. Literally changing the way they view the world; let me say that again, we know that repeating things increases their gravitas…

Literally changing the way they view the world.

Profound learning can be defined as something which changes the way you think. As a physicist I can remember the point when seated in a classroom where my ‘something’ happened; I’m keeping that one for another day.

Sitting on this beach with my partner at the time, we looked up and saw a multitude of azure and the multiplicity of the universe. She was actually inspired enough to paint a canvas, whereas I saw the amazing majesty of Maxwell’s Equations, the dichotomous duplicity of the particle wave nature of light and the use of this energy for the island.

When we stand in front of a class of pupils, the aim of all teachers is to fill them with awe and wonder. Everything is designed to ignite their passion, not just for science but for learning. These are the frills; paralleled by the stage craft of the magician.

This could be through a lung dissection (structural design to increase surface area), the reaction of copper oxide and magnesium (the make up of an early incendiary device) or the observation of alpha particles in a cloud chamber (actually seeing the track of a completely invisible particle which can mutate and kill your own cells).

Earlier I alluded to a sense of unfulfillment — I’m going to take it a step further and call it frustration. As a specialist, you get to pull them in with the fanfare of awe and then give them the skills to explain the phenomena and then apply it to their environment.

When pupils explain to their history teacher that incendiary devices in the war had unpredictable detonation time, or can explain why you hunch/curl up into a ball when you’re cold to reduce your surface area, because of what they experienced in your lessons…

…that’s when you know you’re on the way to the magic!

A Guide To Planning #ITT

Image result for planning lesson 5 min

This image is creditted to @teachertoolkit

  1. Print off a copy of the specification.
  2. Print the spreadsheet of pupils prior attainment.
  3. Read the section of the specification that you’re delivering including the learning points preceding and proceeding.
  4. *Important* Write down all the things as an educator, subject specialist/undergraduate level and a human being you feel will be of value.
  5. You should now have 10-20 ‘objectives’ on the pages.
  6. Now circle all the one which involves knowledge acquisition.
  7. Box all the ones which are about the application of that knowledge.
  8. Work out what you’re going to teach in your lesson and how that fits in with the everything on the page.
  9. *Important*. Actually, produce what you want *all* of your pupils to be able to produce at the end of the lesson. If that’s a DT graph, draw the graph, if it’s an argument for and against a point, write down examples of both.
  10. Now and only now do you start thinking about the tasks involved.
  11. Which types of tasks/activities will lead them to the end product? How do you support, within the tasks, what will all the pupils need to produce what you’ve just produced? (This will form the foundations of your activities and your differentiation).
  12. To make your lesson inspiring I also try to incorporate the S.E.R.V.E method (see blog).
  13. Plan to address all pupils in the lesson (or series of lessons). Plan some example questions and who you will aim these questions too. As you become more experienced this becomes more organic. I still keep a log (a dot next to their names on the register) of interactions to ensure I interact with everyone.
  14. For me, I start with a zip test (see blog)
  15. Then I use my expertise in gathering data, by data I mean the what works well with who. This is dependent on the group, certain nuances will mean certain things be more efficient than others. i.e. ‘Johny hates being asked to speak in front of the class’) and ‘being aware of Seema she takes over the learning in group work activities’). If it’s your first lesson, go with a more generic approach.
  16. Then teach a section (which leads to the outcome). The content or the method of delivery is of no real consequence make sure you use the data from step 15.
  17. Assess what each pupil has picked up. Try different methods, some are really fickle thumbs up/down (still have some value), others such as peer assessment of exam questions in other context are less so, never underestimate the value of your interactions in your walk around.
  18. If there are pupil who have not picked up the necessary. ACT
  19. This action could be as small as moving a pupil to another pupil, who you know has a grasp of the subject to giving pupils a further task; and Reteach that aspect of the lesson. (Ensure the reteach is different to the original)
  20. Repeat the above until all pupils can produce your product.
  21. The pupils have gone, now marking their books. This should be easier as you’re only marking for your objectives. Has the pupil shown you that they have picked up objective? if so extend them with another task, if not, give them the means to access it and reassess.

Honywood Community School

logo-mainToday, I visited a school in Coggeshall, near Colchester, Essex, called the Honywood Community school. Uncharacteristically I hadn’t had the time or the opportunity to do my research before the visit, normally I read the most recent Ofsted report and look at the headline figures posted online. This normally provides context to what I observe.

Meeting the headteacher James Saunders, who talked through his, sorry, their vision for the school and how this is decimated into capitals, socially, cultural, knowledge and organisation and professional (for the staff and pupils). Capital is a great analogy because for me any capital (business or personal) affords you opportunities and all of the above are required to seize all that is given to our pupils.

Screenshot 2018-11-15 at 11.48.34

School vision-editable master

We talked about James’ own children and their love of learning, which has been nurtured through enrichment, I really got the sense that he wanted to give his pupils the same life chance as his own children.

In my tour around the school, I was shown a multitude of lessons. The most pupils seemed completely engaged in most lessons, but what really struck me was how happy the pupils were.  All the pupils, I spoke to, could articulate the why, what and how they were learning and how much they enjoyed the subject and the aspect of the lesson they particularly enjoyed. With P8 being a prevailing factor in many schools I have visited, it was refreshing to see such appreciation of the arts and the open bucket subjects. Pupils are actively encouraged into these subjects;

‘You serve the children first and foremost.’

Observing Science, Music, Maths, English, Humanities lessons they were in the form of different shapes and sizes; different styles and structures. James assures me that he works on a trust basis, teachers are the professionals in the classroom and make decisions as professionals in their lessons.

Continuing professional development, at Honywood Community school all teachers will visit another school as part of their development and bring back an idea or stimulus to impact their classrooms and teams this includes the headteacher and his senior leadership team. This will form an action research style project where the aim isn’t necessarily success in the classroom but the learning and development of the teacher.

This outward facing element of development is rarely utilised. It will be fascinated to see the gain when I next visit.

Finally Honywood’s use of Edtech. Every pupil is provided with an iPad. In the lessons I saw these were used in a variety of different ways, most impressive was the way a young science teacher has built his resources and round their virtual learning area. If you want to see something innovative around Edtech and something that has an impact on pupil outcomes I would advise a visit.

I’m glad I hadn’t looked at the data or Ofsted report pre-visit and I’m not going to either. Today, I visited a school where the
pupils and teachers were both respected, were happy and their well being was
valued. Take a bow Honywood Community School, today you taught an old dog new tricks.

You Are Who You Meet…

Yesterday, I delivered a session to a group of BAME leaders at Aureus school, we were warned that a dance school is also at the venue and apologies were made about the noise. Through the session, I was particularly amazed at the content of the experience of the delegates and their personal drive to make change for the pupils they serve.

During the session, a tiny, young face appears, not two feet tall, in the glass panel next to the door. As everyone one is a teacher, we all stop, wave and welcome our young visitor into the room. I was also thinking about safeguarding, then I spotted an adult standing behind her.

Hannah Wilson (Executive Headteacher) goes to the door and greets our visitor.  Angel who is the sweetest year 2 and also happens to be BAME (or GM), look absolutely perplexed. We all introduce ourselves as teachers and tell her that one we may end up teaching her, yet look of pure confusion doesn’t budge.

Has this child ever seen a BAME teacher? When asked if she had she promptly said no, never shook her head and the expression on her face is unchanged and this broke my heart.

It took me back to another scenario, at a similar session but this time there were 50 BAME leaders (and aspiring) in a room, in a venue near London. Where a group of boys congregated at the door and were continually ushered on. They asked what was going on? the same look of confusion rode across their faces, but they are… They are … the conversation trails of until a teacher usher says… black?

I have to say, to the absolute credit, Jon Chalenor (CEO of GLF Trust) they opened the blinds to the room and celebrated the event with the pupils.

These pupils had never seen such a concentration of BAME leaders in a room, and to these pupils (also BAME), the scene challenged their internal workings. How do you aspire to something that you cannot see?

‘How did we become so god damn invisible? Because If you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself you just feeling F***ing invisible’

John Leguizamo (Latin History for Morons)

In conclusion, if pupils don’t see people in power that look like them? Along with a curriculum which mainly ignores the achievements of members of the global majority. They not only feel invisible they end up feeling inferior, and even more dangerous their white counterparts superior.

Change comes through actions. If you are a part of a marginalised group know that celebrating your successes has a wider impact.

I would say it’s your duty to do so, but that’s just me.

Using Your Privilege​ for Good

This was a blog I wrote for Ambition School Leadership’s diversity series, the original can be found,

 

https://www.ambitionschoolleadership.org.uk/blog/how-use-your-privilege-good/

 

Using Your Privilege for Good

As educators, our core purpose is to provide the skills and knowledge that lead to the best possible life opportunities for all the pupils we teach. This is certainly mine.

We endeavour to treat all of our pupils equally through the moral lens of people entrusted with their care. Is this enough? Should equity be our ultimate aim?

To successfully achieve the above, it is only right to explore the oppression and privileges that our society may subject them to.

 1. Become aware of your biases and privileges

It is vital we remove our biases. This is difficult, but it is important to remember that everyone has biases and it is only a problem if we do not address and work to mitigate them.

Here it’s useful to ‘check yourself’, by that I mean, recognise that you have these biases and then crucially check these are not influencing your decisions and actions. Remember it is only actions that are deemed to be discriminatory. I constantly do this in all my interactions with both pupils and colleagues.

When recruiting if I hear myself thinking ‘Will they fit into the team?’ I stop and return to ‘Do their skills and qualities make them suitable and the best candidate for the job?’

There are various unconscious bias training courses on the market. However, there is also literature on the success of this training, as its impact is only usually seen in people who were already aware and open to it. That being said, I’d advocate that making people aware should be the first stage.

In the same vein, we need to become aware of our privilege. All our default settings (including my own) favour one set of attributes over others. One set of people over another. Let me reiterate these are not just your default settings, but societies’ default settings.

Being native English-speaking, able, cis, and male (etc.) affords me certain privileges, however being working class person of colour (a member of global majority) comes with its own oppression. Privilege and oppression intersect to describe the experience of individuals; hence the phrase intersectionality.

Health warning: It is very easy to get tied up in a game of top trumps here. This hierarchy is not only pointless but divisive, all oppression is intersectional but so is privilege. It is your duty to use it to support those without it.

348483c34d9048018451a20589c9ff1c-0.jpg

2. Use our own privilege to support those without

Why should we use our privilege? Because it’s vital for our organisation’s efficiency and profitability, retention, recruitment and, most of all because it’s the right thing to do.

The recent McKinsey report found that having gender and racial diversity on executive teams to be consistently positively correlated with higher profitability.

I’d infer that all diversity improves productivity as it makes people feel at ease, working in an inclusive environment where they and their views will be treated more equitably.

Back to education, a report by the Runnymede trust, commissioned by the NUT (2017), found 60% of black and ethnic minority (BME) teachers were thinking of leaving the teaching profession because of the difficulties they faced and many cited progression and being overlooked as a factor.

Within our profession, women are vastly over-represented until you reach senior leadership positions. BAME/GM leaders make up around 8% of the workforce yet less than 3% of headteachers.

In today’s climate, with the recruitment and retention of staff on the priority for most organisations, leaders should take note as I firmly believe that talent is being lost.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head, organisations like BAMEed, WomenEd, DisabilityEd and more recently LGBTed have all endeavoured to offer support to diverse leaders to break those glass ceilings.

These organisations are all-inclusive, regardless of gender, race or sexuality. Being privileged doesn’t exclude you from supporting, I’d go further and actually say if you’re a man it’s even more important that you support the aims of WomenEd and gender equity as we have the power to make systematic change.

How can you make change? Go along to the events find out how you can incorporate these into your own organisations. Offer to support with the numerous events and the voluntary coaching that is offered.

Simple recruitment practices such as removal of names (race and gender), titles (gender), university (class), etc. before shortlisting or including an external party into the recruitment process, are simple ways to ensure a fairer recruitment process.

“Diversity improves productivity as it makes people feel at ease, working in an inclusive environment where they and their views will be treated more equitably”

3. Use the above to help prepare your pupils for society

There are issues within the content of a pupil’s experience at school. As curricula within our school system are predominantly white, male, hetero, cis centric this serves to propagate the very same default settings.

This leads to many of our pupils feeling inferior, as the images of success don’t look like them. This dangerously fosters a sense of entitlement and supremacy in those who fit society’s mould.

I firmly advocate the use of examples of success, in today’s society, which reflects the diversity of the classroom you teach in and the global cities we live in. Ultimately, we are preparing young people for global citizenship.

Here are a few examples; acknowledging that modern mathematics is based on a system devised in the Indian subcontinent, that Satyendra Nath Bose is the namesake of the boson particle, the sexuality of various figures including Malcolm X, Alexander the Great, Leonardo Da Vinci and the disability of great figures like Franklin D Roosevelt, Frida Kahlo and Florence Nightingale.

This inclusion of the more diverse examples is not to the detriment of the curriculum or even in terms of time. It serves to add to the experience of our pupils. Bansi Kara puts it far more eloquently in her piece for Schools Week.

‘What if this debate is not about what you take away from a curriculum, but what you add? I used examples from literature. If textual complexity and length of time in publication is a marker of a canonical work, then why not study the memoir of Sake Dean Mahomet? In all readability measures, he is far more intellectually and, perhaps culturally, challenging than Dickens.

I challenged the idea that students are asking for the removal of white knowledge by referencing ways in which we can make space in the current curriculum: using the etymology of the word “moor” to expand Othello’s racial profile and intellectual history; informing students of the advanced nature of African astronomy by explaining the contribution of the Dogon people of Mali to the discovery of Sirius A and B, well before the invention of a telescope; linking the concepts of nature as a reflection of God and child mysticism to its potential origins in the Vedas and Upanishads of Hindu scripture.’

Further reading

Black teachers are leaving the profession due to racism

Pointless diversity training: unconscious bias, new racism and agency