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I stand ready and prepared to challenge any assertion which suggests that the school you attended may be responsible for racist proclivities. I am not too certain that this argument can be sustained in the face of some of the most basic facts. On the matter of whether the school exerts more influence than the family or the community, it is near impossible to escape the observations of Bischoff who, in her study, ‘The Civic Effects of Schools: Theory and Empirics’, explained: ‘Although perhaps academic institutions first, schools have always been social and political institutions as well. Historically, American schools served as agents of unification in an ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse society’. On the same subject, Rury, 2005; Tyack, 2001, 2003, hold the view that school serves the purpose of providing essential citizenship training to students.
Indeed, schools are central to the education process which molds minds but I am not too sure that they could compete with the home and the community on matters such as racism and religion. If the school is not designed for this purpose and does not advance an official policy of this type of disastrous indoctrination, it is difficult for me to fathom how it exerts influence to the point where proselytization into the dastardly realm of extreme ideologies occurs. Therefore, we should avoid, at any cost and on any account, the ascribing of blame squarely at the feet of institutions of learning when we are saddled with national leaders who are imbued with the poison of racism.
GUYANA SCHOOL SYSTEM
A cursory glance at curricula utilized in the modern education system in Guyana would reveal nothing remotely close to any content that would serve as a conduit for transferring beliefs that suggest that one race is superior to another. Added to this, I am not aware of any mechanisms within the school system that would allow for the perpetuation of these psycho-pathological ideas. Here, there are no segregated schools like the American South of the 1960s buttressed by Jim Crow laws. Thankfully, we are not cursed with Nazi control over the education system via a Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda that exerts control of education with subjects such as ‘Race Science’. Of course, it can be argued that children spend most of the day at school and maybe, all the ideas and behaviorisms they adopt are from the school system. In acceptance of this argumentation, the most efficacious way to dispel racism is by having students socialize daily in diverse classrooms with students from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. This provides an opportunity for students, who so choose, to test the myths, legends and fables which are presented at the dinner table and at the community gatherings. This educational setting allows for the formation of lifelong bonds and friendships which may last for a lifetime with persons from different ethnic groups. There can be no better weapon against bigotry.
THE SCHOOL CANNOT COMPETE WITH THE FAMILY
Morgan (1996) is adamant that families are a set of practices we undertake, rather than a fixed set of social ties. If we accede to this proposition, it would be difficult not to conclude that these practices within the confines of the home, provide a potent production line for illiberalism. Once the head of a family is someone who is committed to this psycho-pathology, invariably, he/she will use the familial authority to ensure that children subscribe to the dastardly doctrine. This is done in several ways: constantly repeating negative myths and legends about other races, connecting access to resources to the selection of partners and more, utilizing discipline strategies that are immersed in racism and meaningful family conversations about race. No amount of school or the influence of teachers can compete with the indoctrination methods of parents. They hold the key. If you deny the power of the family in this process, you are simultaneously attempting to diminish the potency of childhood socialisation. The importance of early childhood socialization was eloquently put forward in the theoretical posturing of Van Ausdale and Feagin (1996). They submitted that the child’s socialization begins as early as age 3 and can grasp concepts of race and ethnicity at that early stage. If we accept this, then it is obvious that by the time a child arrives in the school system, he/she is already imbued with ideas inculcated by the family.
Don’t blame the schools, all fingers should be pointing to the patriarchs and matriarchs.