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YOU Wouldn’t Understand...
White Teachers in Multi-Ethnic Classrooms
"You Wouldn’t Understand" looks at ethnic diversity in schools through the eyes of teachers rather than pupils. It tells the story of one white teacher’s developing understanding of how her own racial and ethnic background influenced the way she regarded and taught the mainly South Asian Muslim children in her classes. She began with a belief that narrowness in the curriculum was her students' problem, but she came to see the bigger picture. The book charts her gradual realization that many of the problems lcome from her own lack of understanding of race, racism, and her own racial identity.
The book explores the idea of whiteness as not a biological but a social construction, and one which influences white people’s ways of seeing the world in often unnoticed ways. The author relates whiteness to aspects of her own behaviour, which she recorded in a diary over five years. The book also considers the children’s struggles to construct and understand their own emerging identities in this environment, and the views of several other white teachers, some of whom shared the author’s confusion and doubts, and others who were more confident about teaching in culturally diverse classrooms.
This searching analysis of the innards of whiteness and the way it affects how white teachers approach pupils who are not white is illuminating and important. It should be required reading for all teacher trainers and all white trainee teachers, as well as for white managers and teachers working in multi-ethnic schools.