All of society has to tackle racism;Letter

5th March 1999 at 00:00
I am a mature student-teacher and my last teaching experience was in a school with a substantial number of children from an ethnic minority background.

I was shocked by what I saw and heard. No teacher said, "black children are stupid", but a little unpacking of the "professional" language used by the all-white teaching staff to talk about black pupils amounted to the same.

My mentor casually referred to "Paki shops" in front of the bi-lingual support staff. Should I tell my college? It is a good college, but you could count the black students on one hand; none have been placed in all-white schools; and there is not even a token black lecturer.

I very much doubt that my experience is unique.

Similarly, my colleagues report that the school mentioned above is far from being isolated. Racism is widespread, it is institutionalised, it is insidious in its ignorance, and it needs to be challenged with sensitivity and intelligence, not just across the education system, but within society.

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