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What is Reflection?
This might seem like a redundant question but many of us use this word without really understanding what it means. At Class 13 we define reflection:
as a deep and deliberate process of analyzing and making judgments about one's experiences. To discover new meaning and self understanding by asking questions, and combining facts, ideas, and experiences together.
Below you will find five reflections to support you on this anti-racist journey. We know it is tempting to read all the questions right away. Anti-Racist practice is a lifelong marathon not a sprint, engage in these questions in this way. Keep in mind our definition of reflection as you take these questions with you into your practice, reflecting in action. Allow yourself the time to call your thoughts to the stand and cross examine the facts and experiences to discover new meaning.
White Working-class boys' face the biggest challenges, don’t they?"Wealth is a big predictor of educational outcomes however, reports and newspapers conflate the term “working class” with students entitled to Free School Meals (FSM). 60% of UK adults self-identified as Working Class which is in stark contrast to FSM students who make up just 15.1% of all school population. This argument often centred around a misallocation of resources to minorities which results in the low achievement of working class boys. This cultivated conflict between groups disadvantaged by the system is not limited to White working class vs minorities. We can also see it with exclusion data which creates a Black African boys vs Black Caribbean boys match up. As so much of the White working class discussion centres around boys, it also creates a gendered match up. What this narrow focus on academic attainment fails to include is the experiences of other groups. For example girls attain better academically but 66% of female students witness the use of sexist language in school each year. The aim of this critique is not to understate the challenges faced by the ‘White working-classes’ but rather to highlight how such statistics are being used to create divides making it difficult to unite and mobilise in challenging social injustices. The weaponisation of the 'left-behind white working class'
We have a zero tolerance policy for disrespectful language and behaviour in our school. Doesn’t this already work to combat racist incidents?Zero-tolerance behaviour policies are contributing towards disproportionate exclusions of Black and minority ethnic students in the UK. Behaviour policies should promote fair treatment of students no matter whose classroom they are in, but in reality there are unacceptable disparities between the treatment of various student groups. Black Caribbean boys in particular are 3 times more likely to be excluded from school than white boys. Teachers and school leaders are not able to create anti-racist schools through respect-based behaviour policies because the school system they work in is institutionally racist, and favours white students over all others. Students deserve opportunities to learn about social issues that affect them, which cannot be done without explicitly naming racism as a problem in schools.
Chinese students do much better at school, don't they?"Chinese students end secondary school 23.9 months ahead of white British students. BUT, when you hold up one minority as a model of achievement and resilience, you pit them against other minorities. You essentially say to young people of other ethnic minorities that they should ‘just work harder’. For so-called ‘model minority’ students, stereotypes about academic ability are degrading, as their identities and cultures are reduced to two-dimensional caricatures. We see the adverse effects of this in rising hate crimes committed against people perceived to be Asian in recent years.