The marginalisation of racism : a study of a local education authority project on multicultural education

Bagley, Carl Alexander (1991). The marginalisation of racism : a study of a local education authority project on multicultural education. PhD thesis The Open University.



The study originated from an independent evaluation of a Local Education Authority (LEA) project on multicultural education undertaken by a team of four teachers in two schools; a predominantly white, co-educational rural grammar school and a multi-racial, co-educational urban secondary modern. The thesis examines some key aspects of the conceptualisation, establishment, management and operationalisation of the project. The concepts of multicultural and antiracist education and the related research literature on their initiation in schools are considered. The procedures for the recruitment and selection of the project team are also examined along with the selection of the project schools, their organisation and ethos. The study focuses on the work of the team and their attempt to facilitate and initiate change at departmental and whole-school levels. The difficulty of the team's task and the complexity of racism are highlighted through a senior teacher's life history which examines his perspectives on 'race' and education.

The research findings question the adoption of low-key multicultural approaches suggesting that they might marginalise the ability to address the issue of racism in schools and thus be counter-productive. Variables are also identified, in particular the occupational culture of teachers, which might have restricted the team's access to departments, the facilitation of collaborative teaching strategies and the implementation of whole-school policy. It is suggested that a team approach needs to be planned, executed and continually re-evaluated according to clear goals and shared objectives. It is also suggested that it might be advantageous for a team to possess subject-specific expertise and an ability to relate it to racism in the departmental curriculum. Moreover, throughout the process of change the issue of racism needs to remain explicit and, whenever possible, involve the black community in the decision-making process.

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