Where Are The Black Teachers At?

A couple of months ago The Move posted a poll on twitter to ask you all ‘How many black teachers/academics have taught you throughout your education?’ This was following a research report which found that:

  • Out of more than 18,000 professors at UK universities, only about 110 are black
  • Only 3.2% of academic managers, directors and senior officials are from ethnic minorities

The results from our poll were shocking to us, and based off of the quote tweets, were also shocking to respondents, many who had never reflected on their education in that way:

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Out of the 809 people that voted in the poll apx 421 had between 1-3 teachers, 154 had 4-6, a lucky 121 had 7+, leaving 113 who had none. It was shocking that 534 stated that they have had 3 or less black teachers throughout their whole education, considering that 61% of the Twitter audience is based in London, arguably the most diverse place within the UK.

Upon having a series of heated conversation with people over the matter it was generally concluded that the issue is not that black teachers & academics are being denied jobs, but rather that they aren’t applying in the first place. Teaching is not perceived as a glamorous career. So often in the media we see complaints about pensions, long hours, little pay, and constant curriculum changes (e.g. going from ABC grades to 123 grades – like wth does ‘123’ mean and why did it need to change!?)

Most of the young black people I know tend to be pursue entrepreneurial ventures or aspire to enter a high status profession (accountancy, law, engineering, or anything in the private sector tbh), without investigating the benefits of a profession such as teaching (An obscene amount of holiday, freedom to run clubs/sports, & the opportunity to get a guaranteed job anywhere in the world).

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A friend of mine, a black friend, is currently training to be a teacher. He went to visit the school that he would be teaching at for the next academic year and got into conversation with a young black girl who was showing him around. She was simultaneously fascinated and sceptical of him as they went from class to class, asking an array of question on scattered topics as they appeared in her mind. When she was made aware that he would be teaching at her school, the fascination and scepticism only heightened. Partially because he was black, more so because he’s from south London, but mostly because she “didn’t know there were smart West Indians”. His immediate reaction laughter, but when this was met with a face filled with confusion, his humour dissolved into sadness, as she is of West Indian descent. Having role models who look like you, come from your area, speak your language etc, is so important in forming the image of intelligence amongst youth. It normalises success in the image of self.

We as young, black educated people have a responsibility to those coming up behind us. With all the violence we see on the news all too often, we often take to Twitter in despair and outrage over what is happening to kids who are wearing the same shoes we were in a few short years ago. But, sadly, few of us take a few years to pursue a profession to mould and impact this generation.

The presence of black teachers allows for the advocation of black books in English classes and black plays in drama classes. It provides room for the advocation of black history to be taught outside of October. It enables a wider palette of class discussions and school events. It breaks down stereotypes, and ultimately provides an image of intelligence in the form of oneself.

Many of us often look at other minority groups and ask why we cannot be as united as them. Why there are so many divisions and conflicts amongst our own people. To a certain extent I feel like this is an over exaggeration as many cultures and races suffer from internal divisions (Jews- ethnic & religious divides, Irish- religious divides, etc) however, I believe that the truth of this statement lies in our perception of success. We as a people need to focus more on collective rather than individual success. We need to give a damn about those coming up, because when we are dead & gone, who will be there to teach about u? To carry on our names? To grow what you have started?

Jerome Campbell

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The Move

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