Intolerance in the classroom – see it for the gift it is.

Thank you for your insight from the firing lines.
I was raised in the type of working class environment you describe. – “Salt of the earth”, lots of diversity but they handled it in a different way. There was much less sensitivity in both directions. If someone referred to me as a “Harp” (my mother’s ancestry was Irish), I took it as a compliment. A lot depended on the tone of voice and circumstances. These days though everyone is so sensitive (in both directions). The politically incorrect words are seldom spoken. Small loss to the world.
I agree most heartily with your observation that the occasional unthinking remark is an opportunity for a “teaching moment” but I wonder if we can develop a process that allows us to go back a level and change the culture at the community level instead of one student at a time.

Skills with frills!

Out of all the things that can go wrong in a classroom, most teachers would agree that having your students engage in racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist or generally bigoted comments, are generally among some of the worst…

Aside from maybe throwing a chair at your face, whilst directing one of these comments at you. That would be worse.

However, I’ve very recently come to the realisation that I’m looking at this from the wrong viewpoint, and that actually this is a gift – it’s something to embrace – an opportunity to inform and challenge opinions.

I work at a secondary school in Yorkshire, England and before that, I worked in a primary school in a similar area. I’ve lived here all of my life. My students come from predominantly white, ‘working-class’ backgrounds.

I love Yorkshire folk. They’re profoundly proud of their roots. They can be so warm and friendly. Their dry sense of humour…

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