|Children doing the Stations of the Cross at the St Catherine's Trust|
Summer School in 2019.
One of my favorite Twitter accounts is that of Katherine Birbalsingh (@Miss_Snuffy), the Headteacher of an experimental school in a deprived part of London, Michaela Community School. The experiment involves conveying knowledge to the children in an environment in which teachers and pupils do not live in constant fear of being assaulted. Naturally, this is an almost unique experiment, and she is constantly attacked by the progressive teaching establishment. There are precedents for her approach, however, and she expressed her dismay when one of these, the American Charter School chain KIPP, explained that in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that it had decided to change its motto and discipline policy. It explained:
We are retiring “Work hard. Be nice.” as KIPP’s national slogan; it ignores the significant effort required to dismantle systemic racism, places value on being compliant and submissive, supports the illusion of meritocracy, and does not align with our vision of students being free to create the future they want.
The obvious response to this statement is that if children cling to an attitude of angry non-cooperation toward their teachers, they are not going to learn anything or do well in any exams, and if they start off in deprivation, then they will stay there. KIPP, like Miss Birbalsingh’s school, has as its mission lifting children out of poverty and desperation, and if the school is giving up on that, this is a tragedy.
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