Snippets from Black Teacher

I cannot begin to do this book justice, nor will these snippets. so I’d really highly recommend reading Beryl Gilroy’s wonderful memoir in full.

Of Lady Anne:

“I could never really grasp how sincere she was in anything she said. She was able to laugh or cry inside without moving a single muscle in her face.”

On curricula:

“So much ignorance, so much prejudice, seemed to be built into the school curriculum. Once a year, without fail, the school ‘saved black babies’.”

Of her colleague and friend, June

“Sometimes her words flowed too far ahead of her concern for their consequences and created difficulties for her.”

On teaching young children:

“There were always the consolations that close contact gives. The rendering up by the child of some vision, some odd angle on life, just some odd happening, that can enrich one’s day. Things that can cause a teacher to reconsider adult assumptions.”

“The children were discouraged from using phrases such as “my mum says” or “my dad thinks” except when they were expressing their own ideas.stating their interests, or discussing and interpreting their experiences. The children talked about themselves, about what made them laugh or cry, frightened or delighted them or made them jealous, and discussed their likes and dislikes. The active games we played made them unselfconscious enough to discuss their emotions. They became people in their own right, able to break out of the straitjacket of parental dreams and expectations in which they were held.”

“My own view is that some white teachers quite innocently help blacks to perpetuate their stereotype by being too willing to “understand” problems, to make allowances, to turn on an ever-ready sympathy tap.”

“Good infant teaching needs no labels.It is a positive, productive interaction between all the children and the environment, and the teacher is the experienced partner in this learning situation. He or she isn’t infallible or omnipotent, but should be capable of striking all the chords of potential. This must be the way ahead.”

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