Notes on: Carrington, B.  and Short, G (1989) 'Race' and the Primary School.  NFER.  Windsor: Nelson.

Dave Harris

[Obviously a very early survey of the issues here. Still seems necessary though]

The difficulties faced by teachers and relating to this issue leads to a policy review, ending with the Swann Report.  This review shows the need for considering the development of children's political consciousness and the need to tackle issues, even if they prove to be controversial.  It set its face against indoctrination (xi). Carrington and Short offer criticisms of the methodology of existing studies, and pursued their own ethnographic study of 161 children in all - white schools.  Age appears as an important variable, together with class and locality.  The wider implications included the need to democratization in teaching and learning and to engage in collaborative group work.  Future research needs to include bilingualism, racism and schools, and any possible conflicts with other forms of equal opportunity, as in sexism.  The team were aware of the current policies focus on achievement rather than egalitarianism, and noticed the spread of this emphasis to primary schools.

Chapter one

Policies were reviewed, ranging from attempts to promote assimilation, to multiculturalism, and then to anti racism, and the emergence of the New Right and a number of moral panics and the media.  In 1989, there was a convergence between multiculturalism and anti racism.  Stages of policy development include:

  1. Laissez faire,  Ranging from world war 2 to 1963; [and back to laissez faire with EU migrants in the 2000s]
  2. Assimilation, where cultural barriers were to be suppressed, compensatory education developed, and even bussing policies—bussing was supposed to be ended in 1971, but it actually continued until 1976 [cf modern 'dispersal' policies for asylum seekers] ;
  3. Integration, involving a notion of unity through diversity.  Little practical help was offered, and emphasis was placed on self concept, black studies, the cultural backgrounds of the kids (including interventions to combat 'cultural deprivation').  Unfortunately, this also helped the development of stereotypes.  (6).  There were pressures towards developing policies of racial equality of opportunity, contrasted with the generic notions of disadvantage, at least until the Rampton Report 1979;
  4. Cultural pluralism, developed by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA) specifically, and then, after the riots of the 1980s, spreading to a general multiculturalism, important for Rampton, and aimed at combating curricula ethnocentrism (8).  This is hard to implement, however, and lacking clear essential guidance, tended to lead to 'bolt- ons'.  The Schools Council led on this, and there was some pressure for the more central CATE to develop guidance (there was a national program developed in 1982).  The pressure led to Swann, which developed a major emphasis in favour of pluralism, against stereotyping and racism;
  5. Anti racism developed after criticisms of the multicultural approach, including some voiced by Stone, as too inexplicit and apologetic.

There are still differences between the advocates of multiculturalism and anti racism, despite the attempts to combine them together to some extent in Swann.  For example, multi cultural emphases still stress individuals rather than institutions or societies, and is really about consciousness rather than life- chances or the impact of the hidden curriculum.  The recognition of 'structured racism' began to appear in the 'new multiculturalism', but there were still criticisms of multiculturalism, including an overemphasis on the effects of culture awareness and reason rather than prejudice (13).  [Troyna is cited especially as a source of these criticisms].  For immigrants, there was clearly a difference between cultural traditions and their actual lives in Britain.  There is a need for tolerance rather than being patronizing, or focusing on the newcomers as exotic, for example as particularly religious [ still around for Muslims] .  Instead, an adequate knowledge of cultures was required.  There was also a recognition of the structural effects of class and other backgrounds, and these affected racists too [a survey by Husband on support for the National Front is cited here—apparently included in Cohen and Young].

It's possible to argue that racism is misunderstood, even in Swann.  Political stances are not the same as prejudice or attitudes, although the latter are still the focus in Swann.  The problem is still seen in terms of adjusting to outsiders, and the Report is ambiguous in terms of the sources of racism.  The preferred definition here is that 'racism equals power plus prejudice' (16), a perspective found in race awareness training (RAT) approaches, but this is also too simple, because it assumes that all white people are powerful, that colonialism is ultimately to blame, and there is no resistance to this form of racism.  The approach is over structured, and apart from anything else, this makes it easy to criticize from the right, who can argue that the issue is composite, general and diffuse.  An approach developed by Carter and Williams [inTroyna, B (1987) Racial Inequality in Education.  London: Tavistock] is more promising—certain characteristics are attached to, reduced to 'race' through a process of articulation, and once this is accomplished, the result seen unalterable.  [other people, like Cashmore and van Djik are good at showing how this articulation is done in common sense and in the media. See also St Louis on how this works in sport].  The approach is particularly critical of simple categories, such as 'West Indian'and argues for breaking down these categories in terms of age, gender, and class.  Again, though, we end with general exhortations rather than any practical or political recommendations.

We often find multiculturalism and anti racism combined in practice, for example in Lynch, J.  (1987) Prejudice Reduction and The Schools.  The idea is that teachers morally empower children to tackle racism, through a democratic school ethos, suitable strategies to manage pupils, and the use of director teaching to correct misinformation.  Schools need to develop organizational strategies to promote equal opportunity, and to combat any hidden values as well as explicit prejudice.  Anti racist elements include developing political and moral autonomy and a general open mindedness.  An entire democratic environment is required in schools, simply as a matter of good education.  [I would say some of this informs current policies about the teaching of citizenship] This should begin in primary schools.

Chapter two

There is a need for a wider programme of political education, including in primary schools. An alliance between Piaget and the notion of childhood innocence has led to avoidance and seeing the topic as taboo.  There are obvious anxieties about bias, and the media in particular is likely to highlight any examples of it (26).  ILEA produced a report on bias in 1986, taking on the common perception of teachers as subversive, and found little evidence for this.  The National Curriculum was clearly intended to minimize the danger.  The real intention was to produce pupils as informed sceptics rather than to expose them to leftwing indoctrination.  There was a movement against Piagetian psychology as well, especially the bits about the 'natural' stages of growth of moral understanding: there was some evidence that racial and gender classifications were established in very young pupils.

In France, early programmes were being developed, including reading schemes, some designed to counter television programmes (34), and there is a recent study of reading schemes in Carrington and Troyna (1988) Children and Controversial Issues.  Basingstoke: Falmer.  The media generally are condemned as offering 'parochial, arbitrary, and paternalistic agencies of socialization' (34) [families are included here as well], and Vygotsky is preferred as arguing that there was a positive role for schools and advancing cognitive development (35) [decades of clichés about scaffolding and zones of proximity were to ensue]. 

Teaching strategies include turning teachers into neutral chair persons as in the [schools council] Humanities Curriculum Project— but this was criticized as ineffective and doctrinaire [the teacher was often the only neutral one, for example, and the whole thing was suffused with liberal notions of the equal right to speak, which posed particular problems if some, or perhaps all, of the kids were racists!].  Racism should be unequivocally condemned together with other forms of 'anti democratic sentiments' (37).

There should be a holistic approach rather than isolating particular problems like racism, connecting racism with unemployment, class and gender, rather than developing specific 'packs' on 'race'.  Methods should be holistic too and embrace all the approaches, including anti racism [RAT was seen as particularly aggressive and ineffective, however].  Racism might be mixed in with, or perhaps even start with anti-semitism, as a useful technique to guard against the simple formulations in the field, including some in anti racism [a chance is missed here to pursue what is actually meant by 'race'].

Chapter three

A number of pieces of research on children and race are explored.  Experimental designs are preferred, but not laboratory type studies involving ranking tests: these run the risk of testing for knowledge of cultural norms rather than personal beliefs.  Racism is a fixed trait, but it also has elements specific to situations, and is often weakly connected to behaviour (44).  One strategy involves testing knowledge of stereotypes, but this one runs the familiar problems and dangers of reinforcing stereotypes.  A particular problem is that preferring one's own group does not necessarily imply the rejection of or hostility towards out-groups (15), and this methodological issue also affect studies based on friendship group choices.  The better procedure involves a rating of preferences towards groups.  The choice is usually context bound as well, however.

Some other studies, especially the early ones, showed black kids were denying themselves, and there are [highly limited] studies in America as showing that black kids identify themselves with white dolls.  Criticisms here focus on the subtleties of 'blackness' and some of the neglected ambiguities revealed in the tests—for example some white kids identified with the 'mulatto' doll.  These tests often measure knowledge of norms rather than personal identity again [which reminds me very much of Rancière's criticisms of Bourdieu's empirical methods on class and tastes].  Above all, we need to know more about the reasons for findings such as preferences for one's own race or misidentification.  At least the tests to show that there is an early onset of awareness of race, and possible racism, especially when children are unsupervised (57).

Chapter four

Carrington and Short have carried out their own research, involving 161 interviews in two all-white schools.  The technique was to get the kids to talk about pictures telling stories about race, gender and class.  One example was to ask for an explanation for the rejection of black boys in the pictures.  Age seemed to be important in response.  There were varied responses according to some implicit principles of justice.  The kids were asked for preferences, and were allowed a number of preferences, which was popular with the majority of them.  The responses were also very context bound.  Schools seem to vary, however in terms of the awareness of racism and so on of the pupils—for example the sequences show how apparent racism can lead to sympathy for black people after all, and there was an awareness of discrimination in housing and unemployment.

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