The North East teams newest recruit talks about his experience of observing the education team.
"I was very inspired to see individuals of such a young age, at a challenging point in their life engage and converse in such complex matters"
Ben Holman - North East Campaign Worker
As I drove to Bedlingtonshire Community High School to observe the Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) education team discuss racism with a large number of year 7 students, I reflected on how I and my peers in year 7 would have engaged with an external organisation discussing the possibly ‘awkward’ topic of racism. I couldn’t help but think that at the age of 12 or 13 years old I would have been very reserved in discussing racism with relatively new peers and ‘strangers’. As I further started to remember what life was like in year 7, at a new school, with new peers, in a new learning environment I contemplated how much engagement we would get from the youngest year group in the school.
The moment Rosie Ferries, (SRtRC’s newest Education Worker who joined in February 2015), emphasised the safe and non-judgemental environment the young people were working in and then proceeded to pose a question to the year 7’s, the vast number of outstretched, waving arms in the air suddenly squashed any doubt I had in the engagement of Year 7’s at Bedlingtonshire Community High School.
During the two hour morning workshop I witnessed a classroom of 12 and 13 year old boys and girls discuss a variety of topics which contribute to racism. The young people in the classroom started the workshop defining what ‘World View’ meant to them as individuals and what contributes to their ‘World View’. Education Worker, Rosie Ferries, followed this up with an activity known as ‘new neighbours’ which allowed the year 7’s to discuss stereotypes. Through Rosie’s use of questioning I witnessed the classroom critically thinking and challenging the stereotypes that formed their world view. Before the bell rang to signal the first break of the academic day the workshop concluded in a classroom discussion around the role of the mainstream media and once again I saw first-hand the year 7’s questioning the role of the media in society.
After a quick fifteen minute break and only an hour to go until lunch I followed the year 7 class, who I had observed in the morning workshop, out onto the school fields for a fitness fun session with former Newcastle United player and SRtRC patron Olivier Bernard. Itching to take part, I observed the year 7 class participate in a variety of fun activities which allowed them a well-deserved break from the classroom and some quality time in the lovely July weather. Once the lesson was over and the year 7's had got the autographs they wanted (not so surprisingly it was Olivier Bernard’s they wanted and not mine) we headed back into the building for lunch.
After a fantastic lunch provided by Bedlingtonshire Community High School I headed to a new classroom to meet a fresh bunch of year 7 students who I would spend the rest of my afternoon with. The afternoon workshop was conducted by Tina Simbo an Education Worker for SRtRC who despite only joining the team in October 2014 came across as a veteran of the campaign. I found myself, like many of the year 7 class in awe of Tina’s inspiring and knowledgeable delivery of the workshop. An activity titled ‘true or false’ again encouraged the year 7 class to discuss what contributes to racism and the way in which it operates in society.
As the final bell of the day rang I reflected on my day observing the education team. It was a great experience as it reinforced my belief that racism can and should be combatted through education. As I got in my car and drove away I had two main thoughts, firstly, I was very inspired to see individuals of such a young age, at a challenging point in their life engage and converse in such complex matters, and my second thought………just how much better school dinners have got.
I would just like to personally thank the education team for allowing me to observe their terrific work which they continue to provide to a large number of young people. On behalf of myself and the campaign I would also like to thank Bedlingtonshire Community High School for their hospitality throughout the day, Northumberland County Council for funding the amazing work in a variety of schools in the area and finally I would like to thank the year 7 classes for their honest engagement from start to finish.