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Cultural nastiness in form group

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by kkotchanski, May 30, 2011.

  1. The school I teach at is truly multicultural - there are kids from every nation you could name, speaking a variety of different languages and subscribing to a number of faiths. It all works, everything goes along nicely and it is beautiful how much tolerance there is of one another. Apart from in my form.

    I have a bunch of boys who are trying to out-do each other on just how Islamic they are - a couple are actually quite mature in this, they will turn up on non-uniform days in their cultural dress, read religious texts during silent reading and will happily discuss their faith and why they believe it in an intelligent way.

    But some are starting to get nasty. They have told girls they deserved to be raped if they wear skirts or show their hair, they randomly shout out prayers in Arabic during lessons, been horrible to female teachers, claim anyone talking about a different faith or something which is against Islam are going to hell. Talking about certain parts of the PHSCE or Science curriculum result in shouts of how it is offensive to Allah and Muslims .They also use a wide variety of racist language both behind people's backs and to their face.

    I report each incident I notice, and checked the system and found out it's happening in other lessons and people are reporting it to the SMT. We are not supposed to sanction for equal opps as a deputy head has to deal with it but the only actions they do seem to be a chat with one of the male Muslim teachers - but some of these kids have done the same thing over and over and still get no punishment.

    After one offensive incident one of the boys was being spoken to by the deputy head and even started shouting back how the girls would be stoned in some countries and he agreed with this. And the deputy head backed down.

    Head of Year agrees with me that we need to do something, but says SMT are reluctant because they are worried about it inflaming tensions. I am fed up of having to comfort people in my form who have been on the receiving end of some nasty verbal abuse, getting phone calls from concerned parents and not being able to do anything because racism has to be dealt with by SMT - but they are not doing it.

    Most of the form are fine, it is just about 6 boys in there who have started to become like this, and they are egging each other on. I am terrified because at the moment they are acting like silly little boys, but I feel that this could get much, much worse.

    I don't know whether it would be a mistake to put all the boys who I think are involved on report - because it is going to look a lot like I've put most of my Muslim boys on report but I want a record of who is doing what so we can do something about this before it gets scary.

    Has anyone any idea what to do? I've been emailing my concerns, asked for help inside the school and asked if the worst could get involved with an outside agency (but again, spending money on this is seen as potentially inflammatory), been putting kids who shout out in detention for disrupting my lesson and recording the racism for a deputy head to deal with. It's my first year of having a form and I need some advice or fresh ideas. It's not forthcoming from the school, apart from the HoY who can't think of anything else .
     
  2. The school I teach at is truly multicultural - there are kids from every nation you could name, speaking a variety of different languages and subscribing to a number of faiths. It all works, everything goes along nicely and it is beautiful how much tolerance there is of one another. Apart from in my form.

    I have a bunch of boys who are trying to out-do each other on just how Islamic they are - a couple are actually quite mature in this, they will turn up on non-uniform days in their cultural dress, read religious texts during silent reading and will happily discuss their faith and why they believe it in an intelligent way.

    But some are starting to get nasty. They have told girls they deserved to be raped if they wear skirts or show their hair, they randomly shout out prayers in Arabic during lessons, been horrible to female teachers, claim anyone talking about a different faith or something which is against Islam are going to hell. Talking about certain parts of the PHSCE or Science curriculum result in shouts of how it is offensive to Allah and Muslims .They also use a wide variety of racist language both behind people's backs and to their face.

    I report each incident I notice, and checked the system and found out it's happening in other lessons and people are reporting it to the SMT. We are not supposed to sanction for equal opps as a deputy head has to deal with it but the only actions they do seem to be a chat with one of the male Muslim teachers - but some of these kids have done the same thing over and over and still get no punishment.

    After one offensive incident one of the boys was being spoken to by the deputy head and even started shouting back how the girls would be stoned in some countries and he agreed with this. And the deputy head backed down.

    Head of Year agrees with me that we need to do something, but says SMT are reluctant because they are worried about it inflaming tensions. I am fed up of having to comfort people in my form who have been on the receiving end of some nasty verbal abuse, getting phone calls from concerned parents and not being able to do anything because racism has to be dealt with by SMT - but they are not doing it.

    Most of the form are fine, it is just about 6 boys in there who have started to become like this, and they are egging each other on. I am terrified because at the moment they are acting like silly little boys, but I feel that this could get much, much worse.

    I don't know whether it would be a mistake to put all the boys who I think are involved on report - because it is going to look a lot like I've put most of my Muslim boys on report but I want a record of who is doing what so we can do something about this before it gets scary.

    Has anyone any idea what to do? I've been emailing my concerns, asked for help inside the school and asked if the worst could get involved with an outside agency (but again, spending money on this is seen as potentially inflammatory), been putting kids who shout out in detention for disrupting my lesson and recording the racism for a deputy head to deal with. It's my first year of having a form and I need some advice or fresh ideas. It's not forthcoming from the school, apart from the HoY who can't think of anything else .
     
  3. An reluctant SMT and a delicate situation - I don't envy you. The behaviour is clearly unnacceptable and needs to be sorted out before something even less palatable occurs.
    1. Make sure you document all your actions and everything you pass onto SMT in case they try to pass blame.
    2. Sensitively get the concerned parents to phone SMT directly.
    3. Have you contacted the boys parents? You may not have any luck but it is an avenue worth exploring.
    4. Continue to punish the boys as per the school rules - make it clear that you are punishing them for breaking school rules not for their personal beliefs.
    5. I would contact your union for further advice.
    This should cover your back and may even stop the incidents. If it continues the deputy head needs to be dealt with (he/she needs dealing with anyway) and this takes some guts;
    1. Express your concerns in writing and ask him/her what will happen to the boys if they intimidate another student. E mail is often a good method here as you often get their reply in writing - you can also CC the headteacher in on the e mail.
    2. If nothing happens consider reporting these incidents to the Police - Crimestoppers is anonymous I believe.

     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Sensible advice from Mr Leonard, above. I would only add that it's important not to become too cautious when handling this situation. It sounds like the fear of cultural indelicacy has paralysed the school system (by which I mean the SLT) into inaction, which is tragic.
    Remove the cross-cultural context to this situation, and what are you left with?
    • Racism
    • Gross sexism
    • Horrible justifications of rape
    • Support for torturous assault and murder
    • bullying
    How on Earth can these children be allowed to get away with this? If I saw a child recommending that women were *** and deserved to be raped and killed, I'd be on to Ed Psych, Child Protection and possibly the Bill. Failing to deal with this is absolutely insane, and a measure of how incapable some people are of dealing with unacceptable moral perspectives simply because they come from another culture.
    A segment of the Muslim faith community do hold these views; another, larger segment does not, and that surely is a matter of personal belief. But the vast majority of Muslims in this country don't hold those beliefs. And anyway, this isn't a numbers game- it's not a question of tolerance and sensitivity. Do we agree with rape, and those who support it? Do we condone violence against women, of murdering adulterers, or do we not? As teachers, and adults, we are expected to set an example of moral conduct- like it or not, that's what happens when we stand in a room full of children; they take their behavioural cues from us.
    Do we want them to see us wringing our hands with indecision whether condoning rape is acceptable or not? Or do we send a clear message to our children- all children- that it is not, and that anyone who shares those vile views will be scorned and shunned by society. Of course, it is entirely the matter for the family and the parents what kind of poison they want to pour in their own children's ears- that's their right, and for many reasons, it can't be removed from them. But as teachers it is entirely our privilege and responsibility to set a standard for conduct, kindness and shared values.
    Tell them that you never want to hear those views expressed in classroom again; that they are free to hold them, but not to express them. If they exhume a childish version of the freedom of speech argument, remind them that
    a) they don't actually possess such a right
    b) nobody possesses complete freedom of speech; I'm not free to walk up to people and swear or scream at them; no one is permitted to say exactly what they like, whenever and wherever they like. Offence, in many situations, is classed as harm.
    This is an issue of classroom discipline and acceptable behavioural cues, not faith or religion. It's also an issue of duty of care; the children in the class have the right to expect the teachers to protect them from what sounds like rather vile bullies, from extremism and from verbal acts of violence.
    Good luck to you
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     

  5. Could you call in an Iman(obviously via head / SMT) ? Someone they cannot argue with to tell them that what they are doing is unislamic and that they are stiring trouble.
     
  6. The OP states that the boys are using racist language towards others - my understanding is that it is illegal in the UK to use racial language in an attempt to deliberately inspire fear or provoke violence. Perhaps you don't agree that telling girls they will 'go to hell' and 'deserve to be raped' is inspiring fear or provoking violence?
    I didn't say it was.
    Of course I would and I don't see what I've said to suggest otherwise. It is implications like this that make teachers afraid to confront badly behaved children from different ethnic or religious groups to their own.


     
  7. I would speak to their parents about the Islam comments, and ensure they are aware that they are totally unacceptable and to speak to their sons about it. I would be very matter-of-fact with the boys, saying that their comments are offensive to a lot of people and will not be tolerated, and punish them for breaking rules about learning (calling out) and bullying.
    If there are 6 of them, I think the HOY should split them up across all classes if the problem continues after initial interventions. Divide and conquer.
     

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