A class of nine to ten year olds in a Surrey middle school were given a vocabulary exercise, naming the female and offspring associated with words such as:-
Ram? Ewe, lamb; Fox? Vixen, cub; Negro?—to which a pupil replied: ‘Negress, child’. ‘Child’ was struck out, and the teacher substituted ‘Picanninny’. Reported in The Times, 26 April 1983.
Collectively, the resources in schools often reflect and reconfirm the attitudes of teachers, acquired in their schooldays, unless a conscious effort is made to examine and re-evaluate them. Education is, after all, a process of continuity and change; resources are one area where changes are likely to be necessary.
Unless there are changes, the materials can give children an extremely biased view of what it is that they need to know in order to ‘get on’ in the world. The art worth emulating, the music worth making, the languages worth learning will, in a school that has not seen fit to reappraise its resources, be almost exclusively European. Where the resources do make mention of the existence of, say, music or language of Africa or Asia, they are evaluated from the viewpoint that Preiswerk (1980) describes, as beyond the ethnocentric and into the racist; i.e. that the European contributions are indubitably superior. Indeed the heritage of rich cultures may be not only dismissed but denied: the History of Europe by H.A.L. Fisher (1969) states:
to the conquest of nature through knowledge, the contributions made by Asiatics have been negligible and by Africans (Egyptians excluded) non-existent…all the leading discoveries…are the result of researches carried out by white men of European stock.