Archive for ‘education’

August 5, 2008


In primary school, where everyone in my class came in a different shade of brown, we unanimously referred to the peach coloured crayon in our boxes of oil pastels (we all had the same set, sold by the school stationery shop) as “skin-colour”.

I brought this up in a recent discussion on what colour tones are presented to Indian children as “normal” for skin. A friend (who I cannot link to because he doesn’t blog) reminded me that in our primary school textbooks, Indian historical figures were all generally presented as light brown. Thene linked me to this article, which talks about badly named crayon colours. Then there’re the skin colour issues in Amar Chitra Katha (I’d like to do a post on this in the future, but research is needed. or now, this looks interesting) and so on.

This is all ramblage. Why I’m really posting is to alert you to this project, which looks like it could be really interesting:

Skin Coloured is intended to be a collaborative, visual exploration of what it is to be non-white in a white culture. Make-up, plasters and tights – even when they’re marked “flesh-coloured” – are not the colour of skin that isn’t white. And whilst white women may have trouble matching these items to their skin, for women who don’t class themselves as white, this inconvenience is symptomatic of a wider problem.

To help illustrate this problem, therefore, Skin Coloured is looking for submissions. Send us photographs that illustrate the inadequacy of provisions for non-white people, and we’ll post them on the blog, and hopefully both those submitting, and those who’re here to learn, will gain something from it.

Further information can be found here. Please help us by reposting this.

So go over there, have a look, and contribute to it if you can.

May 24, 2008

Survivor (Kindergarten edition)

I’ve just found this news item linked to on Trinity’s blog:

After each classmate was allowed to say what they didn’t like about Barton’s 5-year-old son, Alex, his Morningside Elementary teacher said they were going to take a vote, Barton said.
By a 14 to 2 margin, the class voted him out of the class.

Barton said her son is in the process of being diagnosed with Aspberger’s, a type of high-functioning autism. Alex began the testing process in February for an official diagnosis under the suggestion of Morningside Principal Marsha Cully.
Alex has had disciplinary issues because of his disabilities, Barton said. The school and district has met with Barton and her son to create an individual education plan, she said. His teacher, Wendy Portillo, has attended these meetings, she said.

Barton said after the vote, Alex’s teacher asked him how he felt.
“He said, ‘I feel sad,’” she said.

Alex hasn’t been back to school since then, and Barton said he won’t be returning. He starts screaming when she brings him with her to drop off his sibling at school.

Thursday night, his mother heard him saying “I’m not special.”
Barton said Alex is reliving the incident.
They said he was “disgusting” and “annoying,” Barton said.

Wtf. I know that kids in large groups at that age are often little assholes, but here it seems the teacher actually joined in. Having a group of kids individually tell a child why they find him “disgusting” and “annoying” cannot seem to me to be anything other than bullying. I cannot understand what the teacher hoped to gain from conspiring with the other students to publically humiliate him. When I was in primary school the kid we ganged up on was the one who picked his nose. I’m not sure what would have happened if we’d been given the chance to vote him out of the class.

Trinity also links to this excellent post by Amanda. Please read it:

Children aren’t born knowing how to behave towards other children. None of them are, autistic or non-autistic. They have to learn that everyone’s dependent on everyone else, that people aren’t better than others just by being better at something, and that tendencies to do bad things to other people are things we all have to fight, not give in to, if we want society to be remotely just to anyone.
And this teacher is leading these kids in the wrong direction to learn any of those lessons.