Racism and the Playground

Recently a UK civil liberties group named Manifesto Club has come out with a report titled “The Myth of Racist Kids” by group member Adrian Hart. The report is in response to approximately 280,000 instances of racism in schools reported since 2002 as a result of requirements under England’s Race Relations (Amendment) Act of 2000. Hart and other Manifesto Club members believe that the policy of reporting and disciplining children for racist language and behavior is wasteful of teachers’ time and creates new racial tension among young students. However, Chris Keates, Secretary for a UK teachers’ union feels differently; he believes that it is the duty of schools to create a safe learning environment and to make sure students are educated about issues of race. The following links provide more details on Manifesto Club’s complaints and UK Educational Policy about racism in schools: Group Raps Playground 'Race Police', Nursery Children Branded Racist Schools Report, and IRR: The myth of anti-racist kids.

In thinking about this situation, consider the following:

  1. How do you feel about schools simultaneously combining discipline with education about racism in response to things like racist name-calling?
  2. Do you think such “playground interventions” can truly be effective in changing children’s perception of race?
  3. What are the underlying beliefs and assumptions that influence the reactions of members of Manifesto Club as opposed to those of members of the teachers’ union?
  4. How do you think a policy of officially reporting and disciplining students for racist actions would go over in U.S. schools?
  5. If the U.S. were to enact a similar policy, how would you want the possible to be different from the UK’s policy? How would you want it to be the same?

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