Kate D`Arcy@the Central: exclusive sample from her recent publication.

Kate D`Arcy@the Central 

The following extract is taken from the start of Chapter 6, ‘Critical Race Theory, education and Travellers’, pages 54-55 of Travellers and Home Education: Safe Spaces and Inequality published by Trentham Books at IOE Press http://ioepress.co.uk. The chapter begins with a quote from a Traveller parent Tina and throughout the book there are many accounts of Travellers’ own experiences and their views about school education spaces which expose the racism and discrimination their children encounter. The aim of this book is to remind people that for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people racism is an ever present daily occurrence and action for change is needed. The book documents equality issues but also delivers some recommendations in working towards social justice. I hope you purchase and enjoy reading it. The author would welcome any feedback you have. Please follow her or tweet your comment to via Twitter @KateDArcy2 


Critical Race Theory, education and Travellers

I think if they paid more attention, as much attention to Traveller children as other children, then I don’t think there would be so much of a problem … but where you have a Traveller child and another child in a fight, then the Traveller child is always to blame. When you are in school you can always see the Traveller child falling behind and other child ain’t … I don’t think they pay Traveller kids as much attention as they should pay them.

It’s the bullying as well; they say it does not happen but it do happen. Ronnie when he was in school he was being told he was eating hedgehogs. My children would not know what it was like to eat a hedgehog. On about eating rabbits, calling them Stinky Pikeys, well … I had that when I was in school and it is still going on today so I know what the children are going through. We went through it when we was little.

We hear stories every day on television, the internet and in newspapers, from friends and families about their daily lives. We need stories to make sense of the world. Some are more convincing than others; some we never hear. Some, like the one above, we hear only if they are sought out, documented and shared. Critical race theorists use the power of stories and counter-stories to understand race and racism better, examining existing literature to highlight negative stories that perpetuate stereotypical thinking about certain minority ethnic groups and cultures. I use a combination of Gypsies’ and other Travellers’ stories and existing literature to tell an important story about educational inequality.

In this book, one of the subject I discuss is Critical Race Theory (CRT) as I explore how it applies to Travellers and home education. I then use it to highlight and address important educational inequalities.

Critical Race Theory

Consider the events that happen most days within a school classroom. A year 5 pupil puts their hand up time after time but the teacher does not see or respond. Are other things happening in the classroom to distract the teacher? Is this just the way things are? Should we question such behaviour? The view we take is likely to be different depending on our own experiences and how we are treated by other people. Tina describes her children’s experiences of such behaviour:

One thing I get fed up with is when my children put their hands up and the teacher never says to them ‘Right, you what is the question?’ They sit there for 20 minutes and the teacher never asks them. Then they say to you that they never have their hand up and then you get your kids breaking down in tears in front of the teacher … ‘But I did have my hand up, you did not ask me anything’.

Delgado and Stefancic are critical race scholars who criticize everyday classroom behaviours that are unjust. They say that, like water dripping on sandstone, such incidents as Tina describes are ‘small acts of racism’ (Delgado and Stefancic, 2001: 2). They may be consciously or unconsciously acted out, but they come from assumptions and stereotypes about certain people and communities in wider society. They affect behaviours and attitudes. They impact upon Traveller pupils’ educational experiences. Because school represents a microcosm of wider society, issues of racism and discrimination are found there too. CRT scholars acknowledge that tackling inequality in schools is part of a wider battle.

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