Once it is accepted that books and resources do shape attitudes, and that many project pejorative biases, the question becomes: what can be done about it? This chapter is devoted to the resources already present in schools; the next will look at possible future acquisitions.
That resources be re-evaluated in the light of bias has been recommended by organizations and publications since the 1970s. Bullock (1975) identified as meriting ‘urgent attention’, ‘the nature of the reading material that is used in schools. In their verbal representation of society, and in their visual content, books do a great deal to shape children’s attitudes. We would urge that teachers and librarians should have this in mind when selecting books for schools’.
Authorities like Bedfordshire, Inner London and Haringey alerted schools to the potential damage of biased books in schools and the Library Association and teacher unions acknowledged the importance of the issue. The National Union of Teachers examined the issue of racial stereotyping in books in a 1979 publication: In black and white. There were also firm recommendations for the removal of offensive material, such as Rampton (1981), quoted in Chapter 1.
Hard on Rampton’s heels came the Scarman Report (1981), which endorsed Rampton’s views on education and resources. The Home Affairs Committee Report (1981) stated: ‘We are concerned that some older textbooks, in particular at primary school levels still reflect racial attitudes now discredited and we expect local authorities to act with suitable vigour to have these withdrawn’.
Implicit in the wording of many of these statements is a recognition that the issue is not straightforward. The convenient word