During the Corona pandemic, it has become painfully clear how unequal opportunities are in education. Monique Legraf, Professor of Equal Opportunity at Ibabu University of Applied Sciences: We need counter narrativesCounter stories about people who don’t see well.
Every child in the Netherlands gets an education. How are children treated unequally?
We often think from a Eurocentric perspective. For example, we are talking about Columbus discovering America as if it had never existed before. Indigenous people and their culture are often overlooked. Another example: Anton de Kom. This hero of the Surinamese resistance has since been included in the law of the Netherlands, but hardly anyone knows him. How nice would it be if we could give him a place in primary education? As a result, children from non-dominant groups also identify themselves in our history and feel more involved in society.
And why not pay extra attention in geography to the countries from which the children in the class come: Suriname, Turkey, Morocco? This is also good for white children. Then they learn something about the countries their classmates are from. But also pay attention to the amusement parks, which often occupy an important place in the North of Holland. Every child has the right to be seen.
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What is wrong with primary education?
“Of course there are very few teachers to give all the children the attention they deserve. The teachers are often white and female. This also applies to the students here at iPabo. There is nothing wrong with that at all, but it would be good if it became more diverse, even Children from other backgrounds manage to get to know themselves a bit in their teachers. On the other hand, the classrooms are bloated, and there are a lot of corpses in the room. As far as I’m concerned, we go back to twenty students in the class.
We must also do something about the role of the Dutch language in school. Children who speak a non-Western language as a background are not allowed to speak it at school. This is a shame, because language is important to you. Of course it is important for children to learn Dutch, but why are Turkish children not allowed to speak their mother tongue among themselves? There is a suspicion behind it: “Maybe they say something bad about me.” English-speaking expats are treated differently, and are not seen as a threat.
I also feel intimidated when it comes to Islam. We’ve got a problem caring about the Sugar Festival. why? This is important for Muslim children. Such a child now has the impression that what is important to him does not fit into society – “they are not waiting for me”.
Another point of equality: in the past the master was an authority and you should not have the courage to oppose him so much. This is different now.
This power has now been taken over by the student tracking system. Children are constantly tested, as a result of which attention is constantly directed to children who, for example, are not good at reading. Even if they make progress. Our teaching methods are completely linguistic: some kids don’t have a problem with math because they’re bad at it, but because they don’t master the language very well yet.
It could also be different. Shopping in the supermarket is a math lesson. This is where the numbers come in. Or take some great goals from Ajax. It is quite possible to make a nice story about speed, angles and circles from these game situations. Then you get the attention of all the children.
Are we too focused on the highest numbers possible?
“Exactly, and that’s nonsense. The point is that every child can develop to the fullest extent possible. It can be done in a hundred thousand ways. As far as I’m concerned, more attention is given to occupations that require you to use your hands. To care professions, so that children can From seeing who washes grandfather’s buttocks.
In this neoliberal society we leave our ears on money. Education and care are seen as cost components. Whereas they have much more value to society than inventing a tax escape route for a multinational corporation. We have to cut it. Not all of us have to end up in Zuidas. I don’t want to be dead there.
What about equal opportunity?
We Dutch think we’re doing a good job and that racism is an American problem. But this is disappointing. We just assume that every kid has their own room and their own laptop, but since Corona we know better. we need counter narrativescounter stories about people who are not well seen. This can be about color, religion, but also about health. A student told me she was sentenced to prison for not being in school enough, while she couldn’t do it at all because of her chronic illness.
Do you have any advice for a teacher who needs to take care of all these different kids?
“Don’t be a savior. The dilemma is that you think people are pathetic and want to save them. Don’t think of the veiled girl: she is oppressed, because a lot of Muslim girls don’t suffer like that. You make them a victim, when they are not. I once saw A Muslim girl here at school who usually doesn’t wear a headscarf, but suddenly she was wearing a headscarf. Turns out she’s bad hair day to have. Help is good, but equal.