Robin Richardson [from Insted ~ Equality and Diversity in Education] was a keynote speaker at the Tide~ primary conference in March 2010. The following has been extracted from that talk.
Ways, means and processes prefigure our ends. Ghandi and Wilde’s statements are two halves of the same principle.
This is a very important question in primary education, but we should see it as about a world fit to prepare children for, for them to make, not just something they should fit into.
“I wish my teacher's eyes wouldn't/go past me today” James Berry, Dreaming Black Boy.
You could say that James Berry’s poem is about ~
‘Today’ is one of the most important words I can utter– this debate is not only or mostly about the future. By the time children are about 40, we will have reached a major point in relation to climate change, for example. What we do now will have huge impacts on that time. So we are thinking about that future, the world – and principles for getting there.
“The most important thing to know - / you are a star, / a star” Carol Ann Duffy, Your school.
A world is fit to grow up in if our children in that world are somebodies. Our classrooms and schools are only preparing them to fit into and sustain that world, if our children and schools are somebodies.
The Cambridge Primary Review [from which the title of this talk comes] says a lot about risk. Risk is frightening: for teachers, for parents … and children pick up on that. But, they need to be empowered. In the context of this poem, and its concern with equality, we are talking about fighting racism, sexism, oppression. This involves embracing risk, not being overwhelmed or overburdened by it.
The child in the poem wants to get out, earn, learn, live, take risks.
We want children to think for themselves. Tide~ wants that, too, but also for them to live and work, with and for others. To think for yourself is not enough.
“Wish same way creation/would have me stand it would have/me stretch, and hold high, my voice/Paul Robeson's, my inside eye”
- James Berry, Dreaming Black Boy.
Robeson was a voice for justice, and against the injustice of racism. The Cambridge Primary Review talks a lot about oracy, but the ‘3Rs’ don’t have a ‘V’ for Voice or a ‘T’ for Today.
A fuller quote from EM Forster is “Only connect the prose and the passion.” Should we see the prose as Rose and Alexander, the passion as poetry, creativity and the arts?
“I wish my teacher's eyes wouldn't/go past me today.”
Only connect: the whole thing starts today.