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Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by grdwdgrrrl, Jun 13, 2020.
Are you white?
And you're the one criticisng the level of debate.
I am telling you about my personal experiences as a black teacher and as a black person is that not evidence ? secondly racism is inextricably linked to poverty that goes without saying. However racism transcends any other type of discrimination, you can literally be a millionaire and still have doors shut in your face due to the colour of your skin. As I am writing this, I have been struggling for the past month to rent a new property, due to the colour of my skin, many landlords have refused to rent to my family despite me and my husband being expats. We have been, given vague reasons, one actually told me he though I was a brit when he spoke to me over the phone, well I am, just a black one. Now my opening conversation with potential landlord is I am an expat from the UK, and I am black.
Poverty is a result of many things, but lack of opportunity is a big one, and guess what there is a huge lack of opportunities for people of colour particularly black people. For example in the UK why is that even despite an increasing number of BAME students going to University and achieving top grades, this is not represented in the work place ? or is it just that BAME graduates are not as high quality as their white counterparts because they are typically from poorer background ? Why is it that despite roughly the same proportions of Asian and Black students achieving the same grades as their white peers at Alevel, BAME students go onto achieve lower grades at University ? Maybe because BAME students are not focused because they come from lower socio economic backgrounds?
Why is racism a sensitive topic ? particularly for people who are not typically at the receiving end ? If someone told me about experiencing homophobia or any form of discrimination, why would I feel anything but empathy for the person ? why would it become a sensitive topic for me ?
Thats not what I am saying, and I am not interested in winning people over, not being discriminated against particularly for the colour of your skin, is a basic human right, I dont need to convince anyone about that. Your research is a limited snapshot of the bigger picture, and it seems that the research you looked for is just to support your narrative that the bigger issue we are facing is classism. There is a plethora of information available on the issues that people of colour face, and quite frankly having people who do not have to deal with these issues on a daily basis, negate our experiences and tell us to work harder, get over it, everyone faces discrimination, its because we are more likely to come from single parent homes, its a class issue, is just plain rude. You dont need to do a lot of research, just look around you, why does your work place not represent the world around you ? why are women in the UK five times more likely to die during childbirth ? is this a classism issue ? (off topic i know)
I don't see how this will help, we are not asking to be hired simply because we are non white just a little understanding, awareness and effort. For example the school I am in, I am the only black teacher, but there are a handful of black students in the school, we celebrate chinese new year, pride day, ramadan etc nothing on black history. This year the head approached me that she wanted to include a celebration on black history, she asked for my opinion, the best way to go about it, the activities to include etc, and I assisted in the planning. Contrast this with my last school who sanctioned a performance, where all the criminals had their faces painted black, I could literally see the one black student in the audience squirming.
Well, here goes.
The issue is highly complex and, at times as expected, and at others more contextualised.
First of all, POC are rare in international schools for myriad reasons and not all of them are down to race. Quite often it is down to nationality. So, lets begin.
In many schools, it is not necessarily the white face that is wanted but the British or American face, with the British or American accent and way of speaking. Certain positions seem to automatically go to Westerners (of all colours): college guidance counsellors, psychoemotional counsellors, etc.
Certain positions are always local teachers: alumni relations, home-school partnership coordinators, etc.
In some schools, I see international staff who would barely register for deputy HoD positions as Academic Deans and heads of section (again, irrespective of colour). Very, very few are able to talk the talk, nevermind walk the walk. There will be a local teacher - highly qualified - who wil fulfil the deputy role in name but do the real work. It is seldom a patnership (in those cases that it is, the best qualified individual is in charge, irrespective of nationality).
However, it works both ways.
In some schools, international staff feel marginalised and puppets of the regime. They have the title but absolutely no authority and they are learning nothing, and the personal growth is not there. In others, there are both international and local heads of section, etc. with the local having the real power, access to owners and governors through both language and cultural knowledge.
Then there are the schools where local teacher salaries and conditions of employment are considerably inferior to those of international staff, but the school will offer something to keep them there. The local staff know that they are being exploited but the pay may be perhaps 20% more than that offered in the local schools (but a third of that offered to international staff) so they stay.
Generally, in my experience (and I have visited dozens of schools over the years), the most pressing issue in schools is that of local staff being paid a living wage.
Generally, in every school that I have found happy and collegial staff I have found a clear code of ethics that is lived and breathed by everybody, from the Head down to the individual who opens and closes the school gate.
In schools that practice discrimination, there is a serious turnover of staff, unhappy relationships and almost hostile relationships between management, faculty and employees. The children are usually the ones who are caught in the crossfire.
There are many, many stories and examples I could give of the issues affecting schools and their operations, but I don't wish to move away from the central question of this thread, which is one of representation and not local vs. international faculty.
My goodness. I'm sorry you've even had to contend with any of this and I hope it all improves for you and your family very soon.
Sometimes people need to remember that these posts are from real people, fellow qualified professionals facing these unacceptable experiences. Working in education/teaching is known to be a time-consuming, stressful and challenging role in itself, racism is an additional 'burden' to contend with. A passionate, committed Black teacher should be able to just get on with their job without additional and unnecessary pressure.
The assembly with the blackface - absolutely shocking and that poor child - words fail me. And this wasn't in the 60s, 70s or 80s.
It's good to know that you're in a school that's more open to a more diverse curriculum or at least programs and events. Children are like sponges so for them to have the opportunity to learn about another culture/race/experience is beautiful. Having a Black teacher like yourself should be seen an asset in my opinion.
Diversity and inclusion is the way forward and I've never met a pupil who isn't open to this. We need to break down barriers and encourage mutual understanding and empathy - isn't that what we want in our classrooms?
Lots of interesting points and insight here. I won't pretend to understand them all as you're clearly extremely experienced on the international scene. You're point about nationality is important too, do you mean some places you've worked in are more open to a Black teacher with a certain accent?
I can't imagine what it must feel like to be paid less than internationally - recruited colleagues especially if you've had to train them too. Your point about high turnover is interesting too and yes I think poor practice always eventually impacts on the pupils' learning. I feel that inclusion benefits the school and its pupils.
I'm guessing private and local schools differ widely due to pressure from fee paying parents?
Also, I'd be interested to know if some destinations seem to have staff which are more reflective of their local community? Or tend to attract a more diverse staff? Again referring to private schools.
UK schools are expected to have and follow various policies to support inclusion, how has this compared internationally? Of course there are exceptions but just on your own experience?
Open to all based on your experience. Disclaimer and I'm not asking for a 'this country v that one' kind of reply. I'm just curious about real experiences.
Jussie Smollet would like a word.
Correct, my experiences of racism and inequality have been different. As have my responses to it. I gave a response that included my thoughts on it and provided evidence about where that came from. You're free to disagree with it.
You did, since apparently we are supposed to have "unity with the cause". But apparently only Unity that follows the ideology that you sign up to.
You don't think its the only solution, I think it's about the most effective way to make cultures that, at their base, look down on peoples of other countries as second or third class citizens, to be forced into reexamining their positions on their race relations by the teaching cohort as a whole. Yes, its all nice and fuzzy to have a "safe space" where people can discuss their feelings. Doesn't change the cultures of the people working abroad though does it. There's literally a thread below this one stating how the ME for example provides no rights for foreigners as a whole. Do you think the Sheikhs care a jot and want to change their policies because expat teachers talk on a forum about their experiences? You think the Chinese care when foreigners go over to their country and tell them they have to behave in a certain way because they're "more enlightened"? Change comes about when oppressed people come together and form a single voice. Like in the US, the protests occurred because everyone is out of work. And the majority of those out of work are the working class. In the case of teachers, if we as a group want more inclusivity we all have to all stand together and demand change and be prepared to walk out if we don't get it.
Yes, individuals have experienced individual acts of racism, literally what I said previously. Now, if society was so systemically racist, they wouldnt' become black million/billionnaires would they? Race certainly didn't stop these people becoming wealthy. BUT, if we examine how many came from lower socio-economic backgrounds vs those born into middle and higher class backgrounds, I'm sure there is a disparity. Perhaps you should DYOR on this. Growth comes from learning.
As I've already said, providing sources is an opportunity to learn and grow. But you seem to be of the opinion your thoughts are the only acceptable ones and then refuse to show why, since you're not prepared to "do the extra work". Feelings are subjective, as are your response to them. Not everyone follows your prescribed world view.
Strawmen and mischaracterisations.
it is clear we are not going to agree on this topic or how we should bring about change. I also don't wish to derail the thread for the 2nd time. If you wish to continue this discussion we can do so as a DM. If not, thanks for the chat and have a great week.
Individual acts of racism occur, as I mentioned above, black millionaires show that there isn't a race barrier for people becoming millionnaires per se, by the very example of them being wealthy. Now I'm not uninformed enough to know that doesn't reflect the life of all BAME people, but its certainly not evidence to suggest racism alone holds people down. However, if you look at things from the perspective of social class and systematic inequalities that are built into the economic systems we have, it is obvious (at least to me) that the big corporations and the upper classes - and the ever more exclusive 'old boys club' that form our government act in their interests and not ours. They do this by inflicting economic hardships on people of lower socio-economic rungs through restricting access to housing; both preventing people from earning wealth through the ownership of their own home as well as forcing people to pay ever increasing amounts in rent, through reducing tax spending in lower class and socio economic areas, decrease in funding for under privileged children to access things like education, job opportunities and skills upgrades as well as removing benefits and protections for those in the work place, mostly of lower class groups. The whole system we live in is for wealthy upper classes and the rich to keep people fearful for losing their jobs, in high debt in order to keep them subservient and not rebel against their crappy situations. And this is true of whites as well as BAME people. Racism in this regard is just another tool to keep people oppressed.
Secondly, many higher level jobs often require people to take on unpaid internships, guess which people are able to afford to go 6-12 months unpaid and which groups aren't? also, which socio-economic groups are more likely to have to take on a second job whilst studying, or provide childcare, or any other myriad of issues that students of lower socio-economic backgrounds face whilst studying? the upper social classes are sending their kids to better schools, removing the burdens of student debt and also often providing additional educational support through private tutoring. It isn't a purely racial disparity in this case but a class one. I remember reading a study a while ago that essentially said that social mobility is available for all but is restricted heavily by class. Those that started with 'a silver spoon' were far more likely to succeed in comparison to those who didn't. I also wonder if the constant struggle of being from a lower social class imbues a sense of despair in young people, constantly having to fight against their crappy life situations and against a system that is seemingly rigged against them. I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of frustration when I completed my degree and the only jobs available were tertiary jobs and low skilled low paid service jobs. We are constantly told to get educated, go to university and then after all your years of study you'll get a job. However, those opportunities that used to be available for working class and lower socio - economic people are being restricted or automated out and then competition for more and more scarce jobs leads to disparities in the haves and the have nots. Poor quality educational services, larger classroom sizes and higher teacher to student ratios certainly don't help and are most commonly found in the most deprived areas of the country and are generally full of working class and lower socio - economic kids.
You've no idea whether I've been on the receiving end of racism or not. I chose not to bring it up because I dealt with it differently. Its not a sensitive issue for me either because I'm okay dissassociating the feelings of racism away from discussions about it. Thats not to say mine is the right way, its just a different one. Secondly, when talking about descrimination, the prevailing narrative doesn't allow for dissenting voices, lest you be called an 'ISM' of some kind.
Where I work and the previous school I was in was pretty representative of both the local ethnic demographic as well as from other countries. My current school had a non white male, european female, american male and a brit (me) whereas my previous school had both male and females white and non white from various countries around the world as well as a former brit who was non white as headteacher. Representation is not always the solution to issues but education is. And in my opinion, the best way to do that is to remove the bias of class, and by extention, this view that we as expatriates are a superior 'class' to the local population.
Secondly, I was quite open with my bias, I said I held those views and I supported those views with the evidence I had. When I pointed out that providing sources can help show differing perspectives, I was told that it was upto me to find the "correct" information because why should you do the mental work. Can't have it both ways. I started with the initial question, is the UK racist, then I checked is there a disparity between different ethnic groups, then I looked at whether groups are affected by class.And I found that actually evidence that my search engine brought up provided some evidence that supported my worldview.
Why are women 5x more likely to die in childbirth - without doing research I've no idea. But it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the breakdown of women from poor backgrounds dying vs those from wealthy backgrounds was heavily skewed towards the former. However, if you know the reason please state why.
I am sorry that the school you were employed by treated you in that manner. Their actions are no inline or are a position I feel represents my values. I am happy for you that you are in a current school that treats you better and agree we should do better. However, I believe the solutions to solve these issues are different from yours. Like the above poster, I don't wish to derail this thread a 2nd time. If you wish to continue, we can DM. If not, then all the best and thanks for the conversation.
This is a long but excellent read.
The 'Rethinking Mathematics' example should send a shiver through the spine of any well meaning educator...
One of the people involved in that piece (and the blog as a whole) was a co-author of the Grievance Studies Hoax which was just hilarious and did Sokal proud.
The pseudo philosophy of the Sixth Form.
You sound ever so fearful.
Especially if these 2 links sum your mindset up.
Not sure how they got past the moderators.
It's a shame really.
*yawn* as always no engagement with the actual material, and more clamoring for censorship of anything that questions your twisted philosophy.
In an INTERNATIONAL school, a range of views and experiences can only improve the international-mindedness taught within that school. An homogenous staff will inevitably lead to homogenous views being expressed. A diverse staff will lead to a range of approaches, priorities and experiences being introduced into the school.
Many school leaders say they value this diversity (and I am sure they do) but when it comes down to it, hire mini-me's. As someone who does a lot of hiring, I find there isn't much diversity in the applicants I have to select from. So, for me, the question is what barriers are we erecting (I would hope unconsciously) that stops a diversity of people applying so the best person does get the job. This is much easier said than done but is something we should be striving for.
Sorry: If you want some sources to back my opinions up:
Canterford G (2003) Segmented Labour Markets in International Schools, Journal of Research in International Education, 2, 1, 47-65
Bunnell, T. (2016). Teachers in international schools: a global educational ‘precariat’?. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 14(4), 543-559.
Bunnell, T. (2017). Teachers in international schools: a neglected “middling actor” in expatriation. Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, 5(2), 194-202.
Bailey, L., & Cooker, L. (2019). Exploring Teacher Identity in International Schools: Key Concepts for Research. Journal of Research in International Education, 18(2), 125-141.
In an international school in Spain, a head of primary was heard to say, rather indiscreetly, after a few glasses of tinto that she would never hire a man to teach in primary as it was a 'woman's job that men weren't up to, and they only wanted to get promoted anyway". I have heard that this is not an uncommon perception.
Men are pushed to advance more often than women. There is a lot of data in this. Or else I would have had more than one female manager or other leader in my 36 years of working.
The presumption here is that diversity and excellence are mutually exclusive.
Who is the “best” person?
People look at other people through their “lense”. No one is “blind”.
So, the issue is, how do we hire “blindly”?
Thanks for this. However, it’s abundantly clear we are “selling” some ridiculous ideal to our students who are not “white”.