The exclusion epidemic that won’t go away

March 25, 2013 in Gus in the Media, Print

Print screen from "The Voice" (http://bit.ly/XJ2Hbe)

The following article was published by “The Voice” on March 25th.

Black Caribbean boys are three times more likely to be excluded from state schools than their classmates, a study has found.

The Children’s Commission report, They Go The Extra Mile, published on March 20, established an “unacceptably high correlation” between exclusion and male pupils, those with special education needs and children on free school meals.

Four main ethnic groups – Roma gypsy travellers, travellers of Irish heritage, black Caribbean and mixed white/black Caribbean – were also deemed most at risk.

It means a Black Caribbean boy from a low-income family with mild special educational needs (SEN) is 168 times more likely to be excluded than a white girl from an affluent family. Read the rest of this entry →

New World Steel Orchestra: a goodwill message

January 27, 2013 in Blog

New World Steel Orchestra performs during the Leeds Carnival back in 2008 (Credits: http://on.fb.me/XEe8tO)

The New World Steel Orchestra performing at the Leeds Carnival back in 2008. (Credits: http://on.fb.me/XEe8tO)

It gives me great pleasure to publish this message, marking the achievements of the New World Steel Orchestra (NWSO) in Chapeltown Leeds in 2012.

Among those achievements were the massive contribution they made to the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Leeds West Indian Carnival and the memorial for the late Dr Geraldine Connor, musicologist and choreographer for NWSO, who for many years inspired the growth of the Carnival and the development of the steel orchestra. In her last publication before her untimely death, Pan! The Steelband Movement in Britain, Geraldine Connor (2011) wrote:

The steelband is not only the greatest acoustic musical invention of the 20th Century, it is also an exceptional reflection of the resourcefulness, inventiveness and sheer survivalist mentality that we as a Caribbean people possess. Within Caribbean communities abroad, the intersection between history, identity and cultural expression significantly informs our interpretation of our heritage. Arthur France MBE and New World Symphony Orchestra are a living embodiment of this phenomenon’.

Each year, December seems to come along more speedily than ever, calling on us to reflect upon successes and defeats and renew our hope for success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry →

Repeating the lessons of History by failing to learn from them

January 11, 2013 in Blog

On Monday 29 December 2012, just as many in the nation were reflecting on the closing year and hoping that better would come in 2013, the Daily Mail published an article indicating that worse would continue and be compounded.

In that article, Jonathan Petre commented on ‘leaked drafts of the new history curriculum to be published in the New Year’ under the headline:

Screen capture from the Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/10n5A2j)

Screen capture from the Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/10n5A2j)

Highlights of the article included:

• Historic figures, including Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and Lord Nelson will again feature in history lessons;
• The ‘back-to-basics’ shakeup will see overhaul of social reformers like Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole;
• Fears that the reforms, spearheaded by Education Secretary Michael Gove, could anger equality rights activists;

The Daily Mail was itself fuelling the ‘war with equality activists’ by singling out Mary Secole and Olaudah Equiano and making them and ‘politically correct’ teachers who teach about them in the history curriculum the thrust of its story.

‘The likes of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill had been dropped from history lessons under the last Labour Government in a move critics said was driven by ‘political correctness. But under a new ‘back-to- basics’ shake-up, pupils will again have to study these traditional historic figures – and not social reformers such as Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole and former black slave Olaudah Equiano, who were introduced into the 2007 curriculum’.

Directly beneath this statement, however, are the images of Mary Secole, William Wilberforce, Amy Johnson, Olaudah Equiano and Florence Nightingale.

Commentary I have seen and heard about these proposed changes to the curriculum have rather missed the seriousness of what Michael Gove is seeking to do, i.e., to write out of history the evidence that we do not all subscribe to the narrative of history involving Britain that this nation and its schooling and higher education system has been ramming down our throats for generations. Read the rest of this entry →

Three Cheers for Kevin-Prince Boateng

January 6, 2013 in Blog

AC Milan’s friendly match against fourth-tier side Pro Patria was abandoned less than half way into the game when midfielder Boateng took off his short and walked off the pitch in protest against racist chants from Pro Patria fans.

Although Pro Patria’s Dario Alberto Polverini attempted to talk to Boateng as he left the pitch (see video below), Boateng was having none of it. To their credit, the other Milan players and officials followed him off the pitch. Other fans remonstrated against those who had indulged in the racist chanting against Boateng, Mbaye Niang, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari.

 

Boateng’s courageous action brings that bit closer the day when black players take similar action against racist abuse by fans, other players or referees during a premier league, champions league or other competitive match. Whether Boateng would have taken similar action during one such match is beside the point. The fact is that he was justified in making that protest in this instance. It was the first time that an entire team supported a black player against racist abuse by walking off the pitch with him. Read the rest of this entry →

Intercultural dialogue between Europe and Islam

November 1, 2012 in Gus talks, Lectures

On October 31st, professor Gus John delivered a research seminar entitled “Intercultural Dialogue and Mutual Respect between Europe and Islam - The challenge for Education” at the University of Birmingham. Here is the lecture in full:

Let me thank my friend and comrade Dave Gillborn for nominating me to deliver this lecture and thank the School of Education for the invitation to do so.

Professor David Gillborn is one of the few academics in this country who has courageously and consistently engaged education practitioners, policymakers and fellow academics on the issue of race, ethnicity and education in the last period, especially in this era of neo-liberalism and the marketization of schooling and education.  We owe a lot to him for his clarity of vision, the incisiveness of his analysis, the relevance of his research and his perseverance in encouraging teachers, students and voluntary education projects to be bold, to think outside the box and to challenge establishment ‘wisdom’. Activists for children’s education rights, like myself, in communities across the country, continue to look to him for academic research evidence and policy analysis to support our perennial struggles.  For me, and I dare to say it in this forum, that is an even more critical endorsement for any academic than the validation of one’s peers.  It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to share some thoughts with you today to mark the start of Prof Gillborn’s professorship at this university.

Read the rest of this entry →