How should Hoerskool Reynopark respond to racism in education?

In a recent article, the Mpumalanga Department of Education has responded to alleged racism in education at Hoerskool Reynopark by dismissing several employees. The problem with removing employees is that it does not transform the culture of racism in Hoerskool Reynopark. The major reason that racism in education continues to exist is because the racial behavior is driven underground and does not provide teachers an opportunity to safely transform their prejudices.

According to AllAfrica.com, the Mpumalanga Department of Education has opened an investigation into claims of racist conduct at Reynopark High School in Emalahleni Local Municipality.

It is alleged that some teachers at the school called parents and learners baboons and used the ‘K’ word.

“The investigating team will look at the circumstances that led to the alleged developments and the manner in which the school management team had handled the matter,” the department said.

The department said it has, in the meantime, suspended the principal and two teachers, who will be the subject of the investigation.

“The department has appointed Deputy Principal Hennie Visser to manage the school, while the investigation proceeds. The department wants to put it on record that it will not tolerate any form of abuse and racism in any of its schools,” said the department.

It requested the community of Emalahleni to allow the investigation to take its course.

The Citizen later reported, a Grade 9 pupil at the school was allegedly called a “baboon” and the k-word by a teacher during class last week.

The child’s mother, who then called the teacher, was allegedly also verbally abused during a phone conversation between the two.

In an audio clip released on Monday, the teacher is heard swearing at and insulting the parent, calling her a “stupid” and referring to her as a “baboon”.

The response to the racism in education by the Mpumalanga Department of Education will only scratch the surface of the racial challenges that exist in the school. The outburst by the teacher and ensuing support by the principal is an indication of a dysfunctional organization.

A dysfunctional organization has five levels. The foundation for the dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.

The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.

Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.

Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.

Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

How can the five levels of a dysfunctional organization impact racism in education at Hoerskool Reynopark?

Defensive Mechanisms

In this case, the defensive mechanism is racism. Racism consists of both prejudice and discrimination based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. It often takes the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems that consider different races to be ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. It may also hold that members of different races should be treated differently. In order for a White South African teacher to continue to protect their livelihood and continue with the thinking that they are superior they must develop certain defensive routines. Before they develop those defensive routines, they must go through the phase of skilled incompetence.

Skilled Incompetence

During this time the racist teachers develop strategies to ensure that they continue to maintain their employment as a teacher and their racial values. They will test the limitations. Since most schools allow disciplinary infractions such as disrespect towards a teacher, classroom disruption, and open defiance to remain subjective instead of objective. Teachers have the authority to set standards according to their racial biases. From that they develop their defensive routines.

Defensive Routines.

In this phase, they have now developed automatic routines that are acceptable within the school’s system of rules but allows them to maintain their racist status in the classroom.

Fancy Footwork

Defensive Routines escalate into Fancy Footwork after there is a confrontation regarding the Defensive Routine. For example, if a parent confronts a teacher regarding racist policies in the classroom, the normal response is that “those are my classroom rules”. Many schools insist that teachers make classroom rules available for all students to see. This provides the racist teacher an opportunity to place the blame on the student instead of reflecting as to whether the enforcement of the rule is subjective rather than objective.

Organizational Malaise

During this phase, the racist teacher may extend their refusal to take individual responsibility by stating that my classroom rules are approved and supported by the school administration and if you have a problem with the rules then you should talk to the administrator. The racist teacher has now effectively covered up their actions. They will continue the conversation by talking negatively about the school and/or the students.

Hoerskool Reynopark will have to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships to offset the dysfunctional characteristics associated with racism in education.

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Education requires teacher empathy

 

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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About Classroom Racism Exterminator

Racism is a menace and so we’ve been taught for ages which is the primary need for a diversity expert. However, even in this modern society of today where we see a lot of colored celebrities performing on stage with huge fan followings and of course an Afro-America President for the USA, we are still in a phase where racism exists in all its brutal glory and has been eating away at the society like a plague. Classrooms, are one of the most affected areas where color differences and racism exists to its extremes. Even after decades of progress and a lot of communal efforts at bridging the gaps between colored students, white students and teachers, it is sad to say that the disparities still exist and are just as pronounced today as they were back in the 1950s. Colored students, even in the likes of New York City, are attending under resourced schools or have been significantly isolated and made to be unequal in regular schools. Even if the teachers are well-intentioned, perpetuating the structural racism that has taken deep roots into the fabric of our education system is a tough task and make the need for a diversity expert imperative. Teachers need to recognize the biases that exist within the classroom and also take conscious measures to address them and their own biases of course. James Baldwin once said, “it is your very own responsibility to change this society, if you think of yourself as an educated person.” Dr. Derrick L. Campbell took this quote very effectively and straight to the heart and thus this Classroom Racism Exterminator happened. Classroom Racism Exterminator is an initiative that will teach you about your duty and moral obligation towards eliminating racism from the classrooms. This is where and how you will learn about what you need to do to produce a better society that is free of biases and disparities amongst the blacks and the whites. Because we understand how classroom biases and conversations about racism are difficult and how teachers and students almost avoid the topics altogether, we have put together a range of effective methods and products to help address the problem at hand and talk meaningfully to counter issues related to race and racism in the classroom. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell understands that it takes a lot of courage to talk about race and racism and that racial issues need to be viewed through a very critical lens that can understand and attend to the pertaining aspects of racism in the classroom. And therefore through this website we have made a conscious effort to eliminate racism from the classroom and make the educational system equal and beneficial for all. We know and we understand that there are no words that can actually describe how racism feels. There are cases and everybody tends to deal with it in their own manner. Some might lash out verbally or others might just withdraw into shells. Whatever the case, people don’t talk about it openly and teachers don’t really make a conscious effort at addressing the issue. We don’t really know if our children or if the youth is learning to be educated or become racists in their classroom. Our program is focused on helping children of color and regardless of their race, their full potential. We want every student to be able to recognize and reach their full potential so that they think of themselves as responsible citizens of their country and not regard themselves as worthless human beings. Here you will find motivational books and flash card games, all of which have been designed focusing on eliminating racism completely from our classrooms. The books and the games have been consciously designed keeping in mind the American society and educational system. It is a small effort on our and Dr. Campbell’s part to help this society become a better place to live in. A little about diversity expert Dr. Campbell Dr. Derrick L. Campbell the driving force behind Classroom Racism Exterminator is a dynamic figure and a constant source of motivation for us. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology, Math Education, a Masters in Education Administration and also holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership. Dr. Campbell is a well known personality throughout the nation. He has lectured at various events including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference and a lot of local churches. He is a personality well dedicated towards eliminating the plague of racism from our classrooms and helping every child recognize his/her true potential not the color of their skin. He realizes how a child would feel if he/she was made to think they are worthless human beings. Diversity expert Dr. Campbell is compassionate and related to the experiences and therefore this initiative is a constant and continual effort to eliminate racism manifested in us, completely from the classroom and from our society.
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