Teachers recognised as leaders of change in new campaign 'Unteach Racism'
13 May 2021
The Teaching Council today launches a campaign that gives teachers the tools and support to identify, confront and dismantle racism.
Unteach Racism is for teachers and education leaders, it’s opt-in and not intended to be taught to students.
It acknowledges their position to lead change and make a difference for children and young people facing prejudice and bias based on ethnicity.
An app and a website with online resources is available to support teachers and education leaders to grow their own knowledge and understanding of racism. It includes advice for teachers to self-reflect and gives advice for having frank, open conversations about racism with colleagues. No individual data will be collected.
Unteach Racism is built on the Human Rights Commission’s Give Nothing to Racism campaign, is research-based with advice from teachers, leaders and academics, and features celebrated film-maker Taika Waititi, who is also featured in the nation-wide Give Nothing to Racism campaign.
Waititi invites teachers to ‘unteach racism’ in a video where he tells the story of 8-year-old Taika being taught harsh lessons by society while at school. Young Waititi was accused of sniffing glue, stealing lunches with low expectations of his academic ability, particularly in English language – but it was two teachers who convinced him society was wrong.
Waititi invites teachers to join the movement, “As teachers you have the real-life ability to make a difference for kids in the face of racism... You have the power to unteach racism. Will you?”
Teaching Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin says addressing racism is a journey the entire country is on. It’s not only an educational issue, but in schools, kura and early childhood education centres bias and prejudice will either be confirmed, or it will be challenged.
“This isn’t new ground for teachers. Many teachers are already doing so much to celebrate diversity and ensure children and young people feel they belong and are valued – crucial factors for success. Unteach Racism builds on, and supports, this work,” Hoskin says.
“This campaign is in three parts – identify, confront and dismantle racism.
“We start with identify and confront. It might feel scary or uncomfortable at times but it’s incredibly important teachers have the support to learn about this difficult subject.
“Dismantle will follow later; it will be developed again in collaboration with experts and the teaching profession. We will add to and adjust along the way – we are all learning about this together.”
The campaign supports teachers to continue to grow in their Code of Professional Responsibility | Ngā Tikanga Matatika commitments to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, social justice, respecting diversity of learners, affirming Māori learners as tangata whenua, and promoting and protecting principles of human rights.
Unteach Racism uses an interactive app, a dedicated website with resources and an exclusive teachers-only online platform for teachers to have conversations about racism. It is optional for teachers and not intended to be taught to students. Students will be the beneficiaries of the change, through teachers adjusting their practice.
“Unteach Racism is a ripple in the wider efforts to dismantle racism in Aotearoa. But it’s these ripples that build a current of change, which in time, I hope will sweep away the prejudices that exist in our society,” Hoskin says.
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