Two pupils commit the same violation. One is white; the other is black. If the white pupil struck out, and you discover that they are the victim of bullying.
Would you consider that before you decide on the consequence?
Answer honestly, and answer with the whole picture in mind.Two pupils commit the same violation. One is white; the other is black. If the white pupil struck out, and you discover that they are the victim of bullying. Would you consider that before you decide on the consequence? Click To Tweet
Should we treat black pupils in the same way we treat white pupils when considering sanctions? Click To Tweet
The following is from the testimony of my pupils and my own experience in the United Kingdom.
Society bullies people of colour. Imagine being excluded from most of the community, imagine:
- Being told repeatedly that your culture is not as valued as the culture of those in power, society bullies people of colour.
- Being told through an education system that your culture is not as valued as the culture of those in power, imagine
- Being told that a person in power is going to anglicise your name because they do not value you enough to learn your name.
- Being followed in shops by security:
“Because ‘darkies’ commit crimes in the UK, that’s why we’re following you around.”
- Being asked (as an adult) if you are a waiter/ security while at the TES awards or queueing for a meeting at Portcullis house.
- It goes on.
What do you want, Pran?
I am not saying that pupils of colour should or should not be sanctioned. However, there has to be an acknowledgement of the world in which we live. The majority of teachers I have worked with, networked and served under are either oblivious to power structures we live under or acknowledged and accepted it as the norm.
What do we do?
Step one is to acknowledge the differences in the life experience of every pupil. Then we need to incorporate this into your behaviour policy. One size fits all systems serve no one well. The only people who benefit are leaders and educators, as the procedure takes away the work needed to unlearn and the work required to incorporate the whole picture into your decision; Schools do not exist to make teacher’s lives better. More on this later.
This process is by no means restricted to race. Class, gender, colour, sexuality, ableism, etc. all should be incorporated into your big picture while this is hard; this is also fairer.