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Dotun-Adebayo's picture
Teach the parents

INVOLVEMENT: Parents cannot afford to leave everything to teachers

EVERY TIME there's a survey about black Britons the researchers always seem to concentrate on the ragamuffin end of the community who are constantly getting harassed by the police and who can't get jobs because they're the victims of racism.

So the survey by the Institute of Education about the very different middle class black Caribbean parents is welcome. But unfortunately for the buppies they and their kids are still treated like wotless wastemen by school teachers.

The survey concluded that teachers expect less from middle-class black pupils than their white classmates. This of course is no news if you're a parent. The non-ragamuffins amongst us have always feared this. The most interesting finding, however, is that the teachers treat buppie parents as if they know less about their children's education than white parents, and the buppies felt that they had to dress smartly and speak more 'white' than they normally do on parents’ evenings.

Yeah? So? What's the big deal?

I'm fed up of black parents whingeing on about how they are treated disrespectfully by their children's teachers and yet they don't do anything about it.

As far as I'm concerned parents evenings are ‘hunting' evenings. You're either the hunter or the hunted. I go armed with the facts and figures, looking for the teacher who thinks they can test me.

There's no point in going to parents’ evenings if you haven't gone through your child's exercise books and you're not clued up on what they're doing in school. You can't be a middle-class black parent if you're not up on Junior's schoolwork and homework. And if you're not up on the work, the teacher's going to make mincemeat of you and treat you with less respect than the white parents who are up on their children's schoolwork.

I find you need to know more than just what the little one did for their last school project.

You need to know the subject inside out to be able to really get some respect from the teacher.

At my daughter's school when they see me coming the teachers start running for cover. Because I'm going to be quoting Shakespeare at them and rattling the solution for quadratic equations off the top of my head and questioning why they are not covering the great African kings and queens in their history projects.

If you want the kind of respect at your kids’ school that I get at mine,  gwan a school and learn and then make a nuisance of yourself. Show off your knowledge. You're never too old to know the difference between Petrarch and Plutarch and to learn the opening stanza to Wordsworth's Daffodils.

Although what I find works best is if you face the teacher and say something clever like, “Okay, if you're so clever, why doesn't superglue stick to the inside of the bottle?" The teacher is bound to have the utmost respect for you after that. Believe.

Your child will die of shame though.

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