Having sat through Derek’s lecture on racism last week I am able to reflect on previous experiences regarding race. In this blog post I am going to write about my one true passion – cricket – cricket is a colonial sport and has racial divisions deeply embedded in the politics of the sport. All throughout history there’s plenty of examples of racial divide in the sport. An example that sticks in my mind and perhaps made more inroads into the international media than other cricket news is Tony Greig’s famous ‘grovelling’ comment made on the eve of the fiercely contested Test Match series between England and West Indies in the summer of 1976. Now, for the non-cricket intellects amongst you (99% of you I’m sure) I’ll provide a brief summary of the events that took place and are now etched in cricket and socio-political history. Greig, then England captain, born in South Africa and the posterboy of privileged apartheid white South Africa. If you were casting a movie and needed a typical white South African, let’s say Master Greig would be a decent shout. Anyway, to fulfil my promise of brevity, Greig had promised to make the visiting West Indies ‘grovel’. Now, this is rash. More than rash, it is devoid of any historic awareness that he had just used a word associated with slavery and black oppression as a taunt against a team that descended from slaves and the hard labourers of the colonial Caribbean. To relate this to Tuesday’s lecture, how far have we really come? Do we live in a society where we aren’t judged immediately by the colour of skin we have? Greig’s slur may have just been a slip of word-choice, even if it was, I would suggest that this slip is a result of a deep ingrained cultural racism that is ingrained in British society. I know I am guilty of it too. It’s entrenched in society.
To look at a recent example we can travel to Greig’s homeland, post-apartheid South Africa (SA). 9% of the population are White/European. 76% are Black African. When SA adopted democracy, a lot was done for political equality. By historical standards, SA politics is now fairly representative of the country’s demographic. However very little was done for economic equality and this has not developed as quickly or steadily as much of the Western World may have predicted. The same can be said in the parallel of sporting equality.
This is something that I myself am still not entirely sure about. Should a quota system be ‘interfering’ with elite sport? Should politics and sport mix? No, they shouldn’t but they bloody well do. Look at both of the recent World Cup venues. Russia and Qatar…make your own mind up. In provincial level cricket in SA, 7 of the 11 players HAVE to be non-white. Non-negotiable. At first-class level and internationals, the number of non-whites is to be 6. Should politics really have to be dictating the racial makeup of a sporting side in 2018. Remember, the apartheid era as we know was said to have been firmly put to bed in the early 90s. In my opinion, equal opportunities should be filtered through the system at a young age rather than get to the stage of elite sport and have to create an artificial racial divide. 21st century SA is indeed very different to 21st century Britain, I’m acutely aware of that having played with South African cricketers every summer for the best part of a decade. However, this case study is still very relevant as it highlights the job we as future educators have to nip structural and constitutional racism at the ‘bud’.
I wouldn’t be writing this blog today if I wasn’t nurtured through a good, high-achieving school with a strong family with a recent history of academic success. I grew up expecting to go to university. It was never a wish, or an aspiration. It wouldn’t be sensationalist to suggest that it’s something I thought would just fall into my lap. Is that pretentious? I don’t know. Is that an outcome of where and how I was brought up? Certainly. But here I am, at University studying to be a teacher. Arguably the education of children is the most important aspect of any society. It shapes the very make-up of society today. In this blog I will reflect on a workshop I attended last week where the role of the teacher in the classroom paralleled current social inequalities as a whole.
A quick Google search gives us a frightening statistic, by the time a pupil starts school (age 4 or 5), those from the most deprived areas in Scotland are on average a year behind those from the 10% of areas with the highest income. What’s more alarming is that the gap further widens as our children filter through our education system. This simply highlights the point that we as prospective educators are extremely important in the future of our country. I hope to look back in 10 years time and see a shift in these statistics.
These structural inequalities are not consigned to just the classroom. The workshop made me reflect on how this is just an example and the same trends apply to different aspects of our society today. I noticed how that with even the slightest bit of encouragement I became more creative, confident and oblivious to what other people are doing. Whereas the other groups who were not in as advantageous a position as I was had remarked that they felt like their confidence was considerably depleted and that they felt demotivated. This is unfair. However this prejudice plays itself out in real life, in 21st century Scotland.
These wrongs need to be put right, I am particularly looking forward to developing techniques which can counteract these social issues in the classroom; and in everyday life.
——Pass the parcel——
Guiltily, my initial choice to study Education in December 2017 was not built on the foundations they perhaps should have been. Integral values like a love for children or a desire to give something back to the community were not at the forefront of my mind. Instead, my UCAS application had began with browsing degrees that had a natural career pathway.
After studying Politics and Journalism, I was set in my mind that I didn’t want to indulge in another run-of-the-mill arts degree. I wanted to do something with a purpose; something with a drive. This is when I stumbled across Education (MA hons). I’ve always been confident, a good public speaker and I can even tolerate weans; it just wasn’t something I had thought of studying first time around. However, after working in the classroom and getting to know pupils day in day out to support my application, I began to realise that this was definitely something I wanted to pursue as a career. Nothing felt forced and it’s something that I really enjoyed. I had actually considered deferring for a year as I was living in Sydney, enjoying the lifestyle and making good money at the same time. Although, after much consideration I decided to start in 2018, I wanted to get back into learning and back into good habits. I have a desire to pass on the passion and expertise that many of my excellent teachers had passed onto me, a parcel of knowledge or a baton per se, if I had left it any longer the music was going to stop.
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