Don’t Divide Us are proud to have helped local Brighton supporter Adrian Hart in his efforts to gain access to the Racial Literacy 101 materials introduced without proper scrutiny by councillors themselves, never mind parents, in the wake of BLM protests in summer of 2020. Meticulous and determined work over this period by Adrian and other DDU supporters in Brighton have finally forced the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, led by Green Party’s Hannah Clare, to make the redacted slides presented to teachers, publicly available. You can read the Telegraph’s front-page coverage of the story here.
We doubt Brighton and Hove Council will be publicising the materials source from a third-party organisation, but you can see them by clicking the link below. On BBC Radio Sussex, Hannah Clare responded by downplaying the significance of the material which, according to her, provides a perfectly legitimate means of discussing race and racism which, Clare maintains, is an everyday experience for everyone. Whilst Clare is entitled to her own view on racism she is not entitled to use the council’s education policy as a platform for proselytising her partisan opinions. The only consideration should be whether the following material is robust in educational terms – that is, does it meet standards of objective knowledge? And does it promote a racialised view of people and relationships? Now you can see for yourself and make up your own mind, although we must point out that as yet the accompanying commentary to the slides has not been released.
We draw your attention to the following examples from the slide presentation given to governors which we think support our answers which is no to the first question, and yes to the second.
1) On page six, there is a slide with a triangle of overt and covert ‘White Supremacy.’ At the top ‘lynching’ is listed, and at the bottom is ‘colour-blindness.’ Apart from suggesting spurious causal connections, this is a shocking slur against a philosophical position that has been held be generations of civil rights and anti-racist activists in the struggle, across ethnicities, to end discrimination and further equality for all.
2) On page three ‘Exploitation Colonialism’ it is asserted that ‘Christian missionaries converted many people to Christianity and discouraged the practice of their own religions and customs.’ This is at best a partial truth, and a simplistic reading of history. For example, German missionary Father Ferdinand Kittel who in 1894 produced the first Kannada-English dictionary, described by Divya Shekhar as ‘a true labour of love.’ Shekhar is an Indian journalist working in India, which shows that not all BIPOC’s share the same beliefs about Christianity, or colonialism for that matter.
3) On page eight, a slide refers to the often-cited Doll Test which, judging by the YouTube link on the slide, is presented by this training as sufficient proof that racism in society exists because of children’s individual preferences for white dolls over black ones. The original research was undertaken in 1947 by Kenneth and Marnie Clark to claim that a racist society will harm a child’s identity development. However, in his book The Myth of Racist Kids (2009), Adrian Hart argues:
‘Fundamentally, the study conflates acceptance of one group with rejection of another; and as Gary Sturt points out, doll preferences offers no indication of whether the child takes account of race in every day social interactions. In 1969 Hraba and Grant replicated the Clark and Clark experiment showing, in fact, almost opposite results: the majority of black children aged 3 to 8 preferred a black doll and this preference increased with age. But even this requires astute evaluation. For example, has a proper distinction been made between group identity and personal identity? McAdoo (1973, 1978) showed that black children can hold negative “own race” attitudes as well as positive self-concepts. “Racial” attitudes can be held separately from self-evaluation.’
Did the trainer introduce such alternative viewpoints about such a general and important claim in their commentary as would befit an impartial presentation?
4) On page nine, the slide on the bottom right (Anti-Racist Schools) makes explicit mention of ‘decolonising curricula,’ ‘school policies’ and ‘racial literacy for school pupils.’ This suggests an intention to go well beyond merely providing training for teachers and governors as Councillor Hannah Clare has claimed.
This material falls far short of the statutory requirement for teacher impartiality. It breaches the principles behind a liberal education which are essential to sustain our pluralistic, democratic and open society. As this material is clearly ideological rather than objective it is aimed at teaching children what to think, not how to think for themselves. Children need to be able to discuss and question openly. They need to be introduced to viewpoint diversity and feel that they can speak and question without fear of being stigmatised. This training material for teachers fails badly in meeting this important principle: instead they are being encouraged to be close-minded dogmatists committed to a world view with which many disagree.
You can also read the Council’s report to committee which presented the ‘anti-racist’ strategy ahead of the decision to approve it.
If we allow our children’s schools to be dominated by dogma we are ceding their future to ideologues who care more about indoctrination than education.
We don’t believe this problem is confined to Brighton. Don’t Divide Us will be continuing our campaign for transparency of controversial policies, content and practices, and we need your help! If you are a parent, teacher or governor who has examples which you think breach the principle of impartiality, please email email@example.com