Remembering George Floyd: For Teachers and Educators
Trigger Warning: Blog discusses racism, police brutality and themes that could be traumatic.
In this blog, we will reflect on how the death of George Floyd has ignited the conversation about racism globally. Following that, we will list resources that will enable you to instill in children the necessity of being antiracist. Being antiracist means not just being against racism but actively taking part in dismantling it.
On the 25th of May, it will be a year since George Floyd was killed by American police.
In the United States, tragically, a black man dying at the hands of a white police officer is not an unusual event. George Floyd’s death was only different because it was caught on camera.
Rightly so, there was global outrage, protests and pledges to root out racism from every corner of society. A year on, we have pulled together resources and information to help you continue to have those discussions classes of all ages. It is vital to ensure that all children understand their responsibility to be antiracist. For older children, it can serve as an opportunity to see how far they have come on their antiracist journey.
To kick us off, there are some absolutely brilliant tips in this blog post, shared by equality of education organisation, Equaliteach.
And some more from the brilliant Anti-Racist Educator.
Dr Pragya Agarwal says that at around 36 months children start picking up social cues about race and start to pick up ideas about people who look different from them. Here she shares some really brilliant advice on talking to children about race.
Antiracist education should start as early as possible.
- Ensure that books in any classroom reflect the diversity of the global population so children become used to seeing black people in all walks of lives in their books. Head here to purchase books created by black authors and illustrators.
- Have open conversations where children are asked to describe characters they see in books and those they know. Get them comfortable in using the correct words to describe people and families.
- Ensure that toys, dressing up clothes, make believe resources are as inclusive and representative as possible. Hope Education have some inclusive sets but many more are available.
- Remove the idea of normality by finding about what a ‘normal day’ looks like to different families. Encourage discussion about clothes, religion, food.
The Tiney Inclusive Education Guide offers loads of tips for Early Years Educators. You can download the guide and found out more about it, here.
Children are aware of differences in race and culture and develop socialised ideas of what these mean. It’s really important that the issue of racism is discussed in the classroom. As this helps children to make sense of what they see in their interactions at home and school or in the TV they watch and books they read.
Head here to find lots of books to help you be as prepared as possible to discuss racism and teaching children about being anti racists. Included on this list is Pragya Agarwal’s brilliant book, Wish We Knew What to Say.
This informative resource from BBC’s Newsround. It covers racism in all its forms; shares real life examples of the impact of racism; and introduces children to the idea of white privilege. Share the videos and resources with your classes.
As well as this, the Black Curriculum are an incredible organisation who have resources available on their website to support teaching on racism for children who are at KS1.
Children in KS2 are likely to remember George Floyd’s name and the impact his death had and the protests that took place in his name.
Ask children what they remember from that time and what has changed for them since his death. In extension of this, revisit conversations that you had last year when racism was in all the headlines.
How can children continue with their anti racism journey and stay accountable?
Suggestions for discussion:
- Firstly, keep reading – books about racism, black history, books by black authors, novels featuring black protagonists. The more information they can read, the more of an innate acceptance and understanding of diversity they will develop.
- Secondly, stay informed – read news articles and be aware of bias in reporting.
- Speak up and support children who are on the receiveing end of racist comments or bullying. Report incidences of racism and challenge perpetrators.
- Use time to gain understanding of protests and campaigns. Attend protests and rallies whenever possible.
- Use money to support organisations who are campaigning for racial justice, use money to support black-owned businesses.
And also for KS2, there are brilliant resources here at BBC Bitesize. This is where children can hear accounts of racist bullying and hear thought-provoking poetry from Benjamin Zephaniah.
At Little Box of Books, we of course, share books that cater for all age groups from age 0-11. We will happily diversify any school book collection. For inclusive and representative book collections for all age groups head here.
The resources here are implicity targeted at those who do not face racial discrimination.
We recommend informing classes in advance of the content of discussions, particularly multicultural groups. Furthermore, you should set very clear, zero tolerance ground rules for respectful discussion. In addition, you should be vigilant impact of re-traumatising black and brown children and be sensitive to the group dynamics.