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RACIST? DISCRIMINATION? OR MIND OVER MATTER?

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by leavinglondon, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. two weeks ago, I had chosen an audio visual clip for a lesson in which a short story was read, to which, the YEAR 5/6 children would write a sequel. When this was shared with the other 2 teachers in the year group they both giggled and asked why I hadn't used a clip which was done by an English person (or someone British). The SMT who had made that statement quickly corrected herself and said that she 'didn't mean it to sound that way'. Truly, I was offended because:
    1) I hadnt even noticed that the voice had a non-british accent, yet they did (vaguely noticeable)
    2) our school is ethnically diverse with managers and children from different backgrounds and with different accents.
    3) I too have a slight accent- which makes me wonder about their lack of faith/support for me as a leader (they undermine every initiative the deputy who is also a non-native, and I put forward - long story???!!).
    I have heard colleagues questioning a colleague's (Spanish decent) promotion on the grounds that 'his accent doesnt really help' so he shouldn't be made to line manage others. Another colleague was heard ranting about not attending a training which would have been led by another non-native colleague.
    My question is, would this be regarded as RACIST? DISCRIMINATION? OR MIND OVER MATTER?



     
  2. two weeks ago, I had chosen an audio visual clip for a lesson in which a short story was read, to which, the YEAR 5/6 children would write a sequel. When this was shared with the other 2 teachers in the year group they both giggled and asked why I hadn't used a clip which was done by an English person (or someone British). The SMT who had made that statement quickly corrected herself and said that she 'didn't mean it to sound that way'. Truly, I was offended because:
    1) I hadnt even noticed that the voice had a non-british accent, yet they did (vaguely noticeable)
    2) our school is ethnically diverse with managers and children from different backgrounds and with different accents.
    3) I too have a slight accent- which makes me wonder about their lack of faith/support for me as a leader (they undermine every initiative the deputy who is also a non-native, and I put forward - long story???!!).
    I have heard colleagues questioning a colleague's (Spanish decent) promotion on the grounds that 'his accent doesnt really help' so he shouldn't be made to line manage others. Another colleague was heard ranting about not attending a training which would have been led by another non-native colleague.
    My question is, would this be regarded as RACIST? DISCRIMINATION? OR MIND OVER MATTER?



     
  3. Keighleigh

    Keighleigh New commenter

    I don't like it and wouldn't like to hear it. They wouldn't say it to EAL children, (I would hope but who knows?) and I wouldn't expect to hear it generally. If the school is diverse that's something to celebrate. If they only want RP to be spoken, perhaps they're in the wrong school. Would encourage you to let it go but if they keep making these comments making you feel awkward, speak to somebody, maybe they need a little reminder about being sensitive to the needs of others. Don't let it get to you, use what you want and enjoy your teaching!
     
  4. Thanks Keighleigh, i thinks that is a sensible suggestion. Should i hear these grumbles in the future, i will remind them that that is unaccepted/insensitive just as it would have been had a child made such remark.
     
  5. akimbo

    akimbo New commenter

    I have no idea what mister maker is talking about....
    I think these comments are racist.
    How you deal with it is another matter - Kayleigh has offered helpful advice in the first instance, but don't suffer in silence and as you say consider how this would be presented to children. Surely we encourage children to celebrate diversity ....
    We all have accents - I am a midlander teaching in the south and have to explain myself a lot.
    Please take this further if your softly softly approach doeas not work.
    Good luck

     
  6. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    When people describe actions as racist when they are not, it devalues the anti-racist cause.
    Accents are nothing to do with race.
    Let's look at the simple wiki definition:
    Racism is the belief that the genetic factors which constitute race, ethnicity, or nationality are a primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that ethnic differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
    An accent cannot possibly be understood in these terms. It is possible to change an accent, it is not possible to change race.
    So no, the sniggering is not racism. It maybe puerile, it maybe disrespectful, but it is not racism. Accentism, if you will.
    My point about this head disrespecting her colleagues comes partly from her reference her misguided belief that they are being racist - a very serious allegation - when they are not (if she genuinely believes they are racist she has a duty of care to her students to report the 'racism' to the police) to the 'rejection' she feels about policy change. Has she fully consulted? The tones sound more like 'these are my ideas run with them' rather than ideas emanating from discussion groups. Hence my line, leaders lead, they don't manage.[​IMG]
     


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    Thank you MisterMaker for your very insightful contribution to my initial
    post, which was, unintentionally posted in the wrong forum. I have read your
    quoted definition of 'racism' and will continue to be mindful of it.


    May I now ask for the definition of 'discrimination'? Given that the title
    of the post was not an assertion of 'racism' but rather a string of questions:
    RACIST? DISCRIMINATION? OR MIND OVER MATTER?


    Could I also ask if the comment, which was made about one of my colleagues
    not being promoted to a manager/leader because of his accent, would be seen as
    'discrimination' or not? I would be inclined to question this colleague's
    ability as a manager had it been said that he is incapable of leading by example
    or carrying out the job effectively. However, if it relates to his accent
    (which is often an indication of origin) then I feel I have the right to
    question 'RACIST? DISCRIMINATION? OR MIND OVER MATTER?'.


    Whatever the answer, I feel a sense of wrongness here!


    A child was summoned to the office quite recently for quite bitterly
    shouting at a new arrival to 'go back to your country because you can't speak
    English well....why did you come to England? Go back! Go back! Go back!'. This
    was labelled as 'racist' by the same teacher in question (and many other) and
    parents were called in. The child was put on a report card. The fact that some
    teachers thought this was racist and others had dismissed it as utter ignorance
    makes me realise that there is a need for more awareness as to what constitutes
    RACIST, DISCRIMINATION, OR MIND OVER
    MATTER.


    Finally, never have I voiced my concern (at work) about any of my colleagues
    being RACIST etc because I am well aware of how much damage this may cause
    (both for the accused and for me) if proven wrong. Hence my decision to voice
    it here.









     
  8. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    You are welcome.
    I'm sure you don't need one, if you do, google it. What has 'Mind over matter' got to do with anything. Do you know what the term means? Perhaps you should google that as well.
    I felt the need to patronise with the definition as you should never have brought racism into the equation. You were wrong to bring it up in this context and I felt it spoke volumes about your relationship with what I presume are British members of your staff. If I were you I'd consider carefully my own perceptions of discrimination - are you unconsciously discriminating against them in any way?
    If the member of staff cannot easily be understood by the staff then it is a problem and the staff are simply airing a point of view. On the otherhand, you haven't quoted the exact comment so it is impoossible to judge.
    If I was aware of a member of my staff being racist and there was clear evidence I wouldn't hesitate to suspend them immediately and follow-up with appropriate further action. Perhaps your own reluctance to do the same is based by an acceptance you are not fully au fait with the issues.
    I fully agree that there needs to be more awareness and you should start with your own understanding - your actions were wholly inappropriate (I'm presuming from your posts you are the HT) Again, do you really understand mind over matter? Utter nonsense in this context.
    As to action taken against the child, if I was the parent I'd withdraw them from the school immediately and lodge a formal complaint against with the LA. The whole thing has clearly been mishandled. If the child was 14 years old, perhaps you'd have a case, but such punishment is not appropriate for dealing with racist outbursts by young children.
    Possibly not the responses you'd have liked, but there we go.
     
  9. If leavinglondon is a teacher, then I find his/her lack of understanding scary. If he/she is a headteacher then it's VERY scary!
     
  10. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    It must be Mind over matter! [​IMG]
     


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    MisterMaker,


    You were SPOT ON in thinking that I do not need the
    definition as requested. As a matter of fact, it is my way of telling you to
    have a good look for yourself. I HAVE!


    It is very unfortunate that you feel that the question in my
    post somehow reflects my relationship with staff. I can honestly say that I am,
    in no way, discriminating against anyone! Never have, never will.


    I do agree with you that there would have been a problem if the
    member of staff could not be understood. However, THIS IS NOT THE CASE! The member of staff speaks with a slight
    accent – barely noticeable! It is for this reason, why I think, that there is
    an element of ‘wrong’ here for others to feel that promotion should have been withheld
    (despite being the most suitable internal candidate). No fault was made of his
    teaching, no fault could be made of his leading and teacher effectiveness when
    compared to the other candidates - he has surpassed the others by far.


    Yes, I have chosen not to quote the exact comment like I
    have chosen not to divulge other scenarios… which, sadly, puts this all out of
    context and makes it seem like a spineless assertion on frail grounds.


    You have done well in making this:


    “Finally, never have
    I voiced my concern (at work) about any of my colleagues being RACIST etc
    because I am well aware of how much damage this may cause (both for the accused
    and for me) <u>if proven wrong</u>.
    Hence my decision to voice it here.&rdquo; &hellip;


    look like this:


    &ldquo;never have I voiced
    my concern (at work) about any of my colleagues being RACIST etc because I am
    well aware of how much damage this may cause&rdquo;.


    May I say, that it there has been a history of THESE comments being made at work for quite some
    time now, to the extent that, it is becoming more of the norm. When done by the
    children, it is whisked off and treated as THAT but when done by staff, it is
    treated differently. This shows lack of transparency/consistency in my view!
    You
    would be very surprised to know my views to your response on how the child in
    question was dealt with.


    I take your views on mind over matter. But so far, you have
    dismissed the thought of &lsquo;racism and discrimination. My question to you is Why does this behaviour feel wrong?



     
  12. oh dear .....................
    As a fruitcake.
     
  13. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    I have deconstructed as good as can be done thank you, but this thread isn't about me.
    Go on, surprise me!
    Racism I have dismissed, but not discrimination. Understanding discrimination is perhaps the key and perhaps I should have drawn clarity with definitions. One thing is clear, discrimination on grounds of race, religion, sex, etc - all those standard things is illegal. But I haven't connected your complaint to any of those standard discriminatory issues.
    We discriminate as part of our everyday lifes, sometimes for the better as it's part of the way our brain makes sense of the world. Discrimination in and of itself therefore is not wrong. When people use elements of personality to judge people it is sometimes a positive and sometimes a negative. Someone's physical fitness to perform a task is fine, someone's physical appearance is not.
    To the point at hand, folk in the UK mock accents as part of the accepted culture. Scousers, geordies, cockneys, Glaswegian, indeed for a small nation we have lots of accents and light hearted banter - in my view - is fine. Where an accent is commented on in the work place and used to decide placement and job prospects it comes down to legibility of pronunciation, especially in the classroom and especially in an school with high ESL percentages where a 'clear and concise' accent is preferable. If the person does speak clearly and legibly there should be no need for discrimination and it would be wrong to discriminate. Making a comment about accents, however, is not discrimination.
    It could be the comments about accent you mentioned in your original post relate more to the anti-PC movement than any dislike of accents. BBC programme makers, for example, are often guilty of so called 'positive discrimination based on race, religion and gender'. I find this blind political correctness unacceptable and can itself be racist; indeed this type of discrimination has led in part to the rise in anger amongst white working classes, especially in Northern England, who have become the main disadvantaged group in England. Children from middle class backgrounds of all enthicities do better at school and in the workplace than 'working class boys'. Whilst there are many schemes to help black, asian and other ethnic groups there are few to support whire working class boys. When was the last time you saw a WWC boy portrayed positively on the TV? Plenty of negative images or comedies that mock this group, but rarely anything showing them in a positive light. Equality should mean equality for all. So if in the audio you first mentioned the programme makers were guilty of being 'blinded by PC racism', then that would be something the teachers could be justified in commenting on. You username suggests you have left London - perhaps physically you have, but perhaps mentally you are still there and hold the warped London centric view of the UK the programme makers are often guilty of holding - 90% of the country live outside London!
    I'd say you need to bring this up in your next staff meeting. It is clearly something you find disturbing (perhaps because of your mistaken linkages to racism). Better to have an open and frank dicussion where you tell the other staff about your discomfort and gather their views; perhaps you might be surprised at their reactions.
     

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