Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Touchy Topic

I caught a bit of an interview on CTV's The Verdict last night about the proposal of segregated schools. Some parents and educators believe that by having African-Canadian centered schools, the drop out rate among young African-Canadian students would be less. The students would be taught by "black teachers and role models".

Others believe that this approach is nothing but detrimental to students' development and educational success. It's like taking a thousand steps back in time. For decades, people have been fighting for equal rights and have tried to abolish racism. By segregating students, does this help them to become engaged and interested in their studies or does it only exacerbate the existing challenges?

I can see the pros and cons for each argument. True, by having schools that are specifically tailored for the needs of the students, it can be beneficial for learners if they are in an environment that is conducive to their learning styles. If this were the case, then, would we need to segregate all students depending on their differences? We have students from all walks of life, all cultures and creeds, and sexual orientations. Would we need to have schools specifically for each group of students?

Though I understand what supporters of segregated schools are trying to get at, I must say that I feel that by segregating students, we are not doing them any justice in the long run. Canada is composed of people from so many different cultures and religions. That's what makes Canada a beautiful. Wouldn't it be wise to teach students that they need to interact and exist in a world of mixed nationalities and beliefs?

People have fought for so many years to end slavery, get equal rights, the right to vote, end segregation...and now they want segregation? I know the details are not so clear and that the issues on both sides are more complex, but I don't see how in the long run that this will be good for the students.

Anyway, that's my two cents! What do you think about the idea of segregated schools?

Photo borrowed from: McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum


Calfkeeper said...

It's a hard issue, isn't it? I, too, can see both sides of the issue. But in the long run I agree with you.

I grew up in a very "white" community. From the time I began kindergarten until I graduated from high school I think there were maybe 4-5 kids of a different race or culture. Not all of them were in my grade level and some only stayed for a year or two.

What a pleasant revelation to go to college and get to know people and make friends of different cultures. I wish my daughter could be exposed to that as she grows up from day one in school.

I understand what they may be driving at but don't children need to learn how to get along while they are still young? Why can't schools address the issue differently? To me it seems segregation would drive a wedge between cultures and promote racism; an us against them way of thinking.

Do you think this will actually happen?

japanmanpete said...

I have been in Takamatsu for a work related trip. I am back to catch up on your blog postings!

My dear Christine. You write about so many diverse topics. I am impressed that there is a serious side to you! You can be very funny and silly and then turn around and be all serious. I do believe that is why we keep coming back to read your weblog.


pinks & Blues Girls said...

I can appreciate both sides, too... but didn't we all see what segregation does back in the 50's and 60's?

Also, it just occured to me that I have never heard the term "African-Canadian" before! I'm so used to African-American that it just sounded kind of funny to me!! :)

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Dee said...

We have been discussing and debating this issue around my house since it was brought up in the news a few weeks ago. I can see both sides of the issue. The theory is that %50 of black students drop out or do not complete high school due to the idea that they are not understood by "white" teachers. Apparantly white teachers cannot be empathetic to black students needs and they do not understand the differing needs of these students. The higher ups think that educators need to adjust their expectations based on the needs of each student. This might work for a while and it certainly would help improve self esteem and such for the low level students but on the other hand once these kids get out into the real world they would be in for a huge shock. They would have been coddled and spoon fed so much that the ability to do real work and not always do things they enjoy would be lacking.
Some educators say that some of these troubled students would benefit from being seperated from the others as well benefit the students who want to learn.
This isn't an issue of students getting along with one another, this is an issue of all students being treated equally.There has been a huge problem with certain groups feeling that they are discriminated against (which i think they probably ARE NOT) but this has been become a hinderance on the education of all...
anyway i could continue this on and on...

Anonymous said...

Let me just play the Devil's advocate here. I don't have any side that I'm leaning more towards here. I've got two children who are in public school and one who is still at home with me.

I was just thinking that there are already some schools that are "separate" from others but are not considered "segregated". For example, there are French-only schools and what about children who go to Jewish-only schools--Are they not separated from other children? I do realize this is because of religion , tradition, and cultural values. Is it not segregation nonetheless?

In our household, we respect differences in religions, cultures, nationalities, and as touchy as this sounds, "skin color". I want my kids to grow up respecting and accepting other people's backgrounds. I think a good way for them to learn about others is by going to school with a multicultural student population.

At the same time, I see how the idea of schools that focus on heritage, history, cultural understanding in one's own culture can be a good idea. Then would we have to come up with schools to cater to distinct cultures (Asian, Greek, Spanish, Italian....)?

This is a very difficult topic to broach. I wonder if it will actually happen?

C said...

I honestly don't know if it will actually happen. I've been following the news and reading up on the issue. I agree with what you said about segregation driving a wedge between cultures.

Hope you had a good time in Takamatsu. I went there for a work related trip too. It was pretty fun.

Anyway, I don't know whether to be flattered or offended by your comment! LOL! ;) Just kidding! :) I do (on occasion) come up with some pretty cerebral topics of conversation! ;)

C said...

It was the first time I had heard the term "African Canadian" too!!!! I had always heard "African American", so writing "African Canadian" was sort of odd for me :)

Yes, you've raised a lot of valid points. This isn't exactly the same thing, but I have taught students who have such special needs and require more attention than others that they monopolize class time and take away valuable lesson time from other students who want to learn. In this sense, I totally see where you are coming from.

C said...

Hi! Thanks for popping by and commenting. After reading Dee's comment, I can see a bit more just what those who are pushing for segregated schools are trying to convey. There needs to be a way to somehow serve for the betterment of all students involved.

I'll have to come back and comment later. I need to gather my thoughts! LOL! Hmph! I guess posting photos of kittens is way easier than writing posts that require a lot of thinking! ;) Just kidding! Thank goodness NaBloPoMo is almost over!!!

dee said...

i don't actually agree with the idea of all black schools but i was just stating what the theory is.
i think most teachers treat all students equally but some students think they are discriminated against due to their color. My hubby tells me that some students think they are entitled to preferential treatment. or "affirmative action" because of their backgrounds. He just ignores this and merits all students as they prove themselves worthy

Uncivil said...

Hmmmmmm......Too Touchy for me to ponder into! But from now on.....I want to be called "German-American"!
Nah....."Butthole-American" fits me better!
But I was born in Alaska! Now I'm really confused!

Uncivil said...

I've got it!!!!
I'm "Germaniac American"

Karen MEG said...

I was thinking about posting about this a little while ago, but then my brain started hurting when I tried to come up with ways to express my views, and I kept oscillating back and forth. Problem, being a Libra.
You so eloquently broached the topic C. I don't know if segregation is the answer, and to be honest, I was quite shocked that it was even being thought about as a solution. In today's society we've grown up to learn to get along with one another, and I don't know how that can be done if groups 'break off' to such an extent. I suppose it's an issue along similar lines as religious schools etc. The need to hang on to one's culture is also very strong these days. I hope there's a way to balance these things without all out segregation.

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