In a recent article, South African parents have voiced their opposition to the reinstatement of a top level educator who allegedly perpetrates racism in schools. The top school educator was banned from the school for an entire month without pay as his punishment. The top educator must transform the perception that the parents have regarding the allegations of racism in schools.

According to the article, School Governing Body chairwoman Mary Magodielo said they were unhappy with the department’s decision to return the school’s former “racist principal without consulting us”.

“He called our children black b****rds who would never get into heaven and that he would teach them manners so they could teach us (manners),” she said. He is alleged to have also told the children to go back to the township schools where they belong. “He admitted to these claims and was only fined one month’s salary; that is how much our children’s dignity is worth according to the department. I mean, if he hates our children so much why does he even want to come back then?” Magodielo asked.

She said the principal had been gone since 2012 and was not even trained for the new Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement being used, so his return would not be in the pupils’ best interests.

“Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is contradicting himself if he proceeds with letting that man back here without listening to our pleas. At the inauguration of SGBs last week, he said it was up to us to ensure our children are afforded quality education, trained educators and to root out racism. That is what we are doing now,” said Magodielo.

Charl Swarts, a parent who arrived early to join the sit-in, said the root of the problem was a lack of communication between the parents and the department.

What is a good starting point to transform the perception that the parents have regarding racism in schools?

Since the teachers are on the front line working with the students, empowering teacher is the most effective way to transform the perception that parents have regarding the alleged racism in education. However, the top school leader should initialize and guide the entire process. It will help teachers to become aware of some of the racial differences that can lead to allegations of racism in schools.

Racial Differences

Teacher-student conflicts result from a difference in desires, and even though this difference may be reduced, it remains in schools. Cultural and racial background affects attitudes, beliefs, and values about education, ideas about how classes ought to be conducted, how students and teachers ought to interact, and what types of relationships are appropriate for students and teachers. The classroom conflict between teachers and students results from the different cultural and racial contexts that students and teachers bring to the classroom.

Some minorities believe they cannot trust White institutions. The result is that some adolescents may develop oppositional social identities that are contrary to the social expectations of mainstream society when they experience racism and respond with anger and rebellion. In particular, Black students are convinced that White teachers are racist and prejudiced and reject White teachers’ authority due to their experience with racism, and Black students who reach school develop a sharp distinction between acting Black and acting White. Black students frequently find themselves in classrooms where their culture, racial, and linguistic identities are under constant attack that manifests as a multitude of disciplinary actions, suspensions, and expulsions. Minority students are more likely to encounter teacher behavior that impedes their progress when compared to White students.

Teacher Student Relationships

Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning, behavior, and eliminating allegations of racism in schools. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning. Teachers can build positive teacher-student classroom relationships. The keys to positive relationships with students are:

  • Checking student knowledge by asking students what they already know
  • Providing students time to explore and discover
  • Celebrating student accomplishments
  • Respecting students, which includes expecting students to have wisdom, and
  • Exploring how they view things and discussing differences

Teachers develop positive relationships with students by engaging them in personal and meaningful dialogue that includes personal and nonacademic issues such as student interests, goals, aspirations, likes and dislikes, family, and culture.

The above list is not inclusive for promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships). However, this is a great stating point to transform the perception that parents have regarding allegations of racism in schools.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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