Coaching & Leadership Development
The Cost of Not Being Racially Literate

The Cost of Not Being Racially Literate

  The government has recently published guidance on politically impartiality in English Classrooms. For me, the guidance represents a ‘teaching by numbers’ approach to the global challenges of today.   What’s more, I believe the confusion around the guidance (that many of the unions have come out in condemnation of) rather than strengthening race equality work in schools, will actively serve to undermine it.   Education is a moral and social endeavour and for this endeavour to succeed, our young people need support to develop the critical skills that will enable them (alongside the rest of us) to shape a more just and equitable society.   One of these critical skills is racial literacy – the ability to understand, talk and explore matters of race. For centuries, our education system has valorised approaches to teacher development, and classroom pedagogy that centre on acquiring knowledge, technical skills, and expertise.   As a result, we have educators who have been ‘trained’ to seek praise and affirmation for levels of pedagogical expertise and little else. Meanwhile, learning or development that moves beyond these narrow confines, particularly in relation to race, is rarely encouraged.   Consequently, within the arena of anti-racist work and developing racial literacy, we have a vast swathe of the teaching workforce that is ill-equipped to move from expert academic to novice inquirer. And … there is a cost.   The cost of not being racially literate   Becoming racially literate requires that, as educators, we can:   – Engage with the emotional content of any conversation that has a focus on race – Welcome personal narratives and the lived...
Why White Leaders are Key to Ending Racism

Why White Leaders are Key to Ending Racism

  For decades, race equality work has predominately focused on the black experience of racism and strategies for enabling the black community to overcome huge systemic injustices and inequalities.   However, increasingly, since the death of George Floyd in May 2020, the education world has come to understand that white educators also have a role to play. The onus of responsibility for addressing racism can no longer lie solely with the black community.   If our schools are to change and if they are to become the places where our children learn to be true global citizens, then to be effective allies in the battle against racism, white educators need to be able to demonstrate agency as anti-racist practitioners and undertake their own race and identity work.   However, it is my observation that while making the mental commitment to become anti-racist, many white school leaders have absolutely no idea of what is being asked of them and the deep psychological and emotional task that awaits.   New Territory   Exploring one’s racial identity has proved to be new territory for most white educators, partly because understanding whiteness as a social construct and how it impacts efficacy, agency and the shaping of both personal and professional identities has not been a prerequisite for teacher training, the ever-growing range of NPQ qualifications or movement into senior leadership.   Unfortunately, little within the education sphere appears to be cognisant of the ‘Psychic wound of racism’. That anti-racist work has a profound psychological element that is concerned with piecing back together the fragmented parts of personal identity so that divisions within individuals...