Friday, 28 May 2021

New education programme teaches white supremacy


“The Government must explain why a new education programme is teaching the idea that white supremacy exists in our education system”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“We need to debate and discuss issues around race and inequality in this country. But covertly adding concepts like ‘white supremacy’ to the curriculum is not the way to do it.

“White supremacy is linked with horrendous regimes who carried out mass shootings and genocide. To divide New Zealanders by casually confusing this ideology with anyone who is white is incredibly hurtful.

“Imagine a child who is anxious about the world anyway and she’s told she’s a white supremacist, a term she’s only ever heard used in relation to violence and terrorism. It’s clumsy, ignorant and incompetent for this sort of material to be given to teachers. 

“A man who directed a movie about Nazi Germany should understand this concept better than anyone. 

“The Unteach Racism programme was launched earlier this month by the Teaching Council and is fronted by Taika Waititi. Some of the teaching resources introduce the concept of ‘white supremacy’.

One of the papers explains that ‘we have to have to talk about white privilege and white supremacy’, and claims ‘the intractability of this supremacy in education institutions is one of the main challenges for critical pedagogy’.

Another paper claims that ‘the maintenance and perpetuation of the superiority of one racial group over another [is] embedded in New Zealand society, and advantages accrued to Pākehā through institutions and individual behaviour’.

“Teachers have also been given a glossary of terms, including one on white privilege:

‘White privilege

White privilege is described in Borell (2017) a descriptor of a system that creates, sustains and perpetuates the supremacy of white people, values, norms and epistemologies. Research in Aotearoa New Zealand on the subject of white privilege firmly contends there are advantages to belonging to the dominant white or Pākehā majority.’

“Instead of encouraging teachers to treat students from different groups equally, Unteach Racism explains:

'Colour-blindness

Colour-blindness is the idea that ignoring or overlooking ethnic differences promotes harmony between ethnic groups. Failure or refusal to see and acknowledge difference makes it difficult to recognise the biases we have. In Aotearoa New Zealand, colour-blindness underpins a 'one nation' discourse that is used to deny Māori the right to self-determination. It is a facade of racial neutrality that covertly perpetuates racism.’

“A programme that asks children to apologise for their colour is the worst form of bigotry. Dressing it up as anti-racism is hypocrisy.

“This is clumsy, insensitive and hurtful language being forced on New Zealanders by the Government.

“The promise of our country is to value the common dignity of each and every person. Young people deserve a positive and inclusive education.

“It is deeply concerning that such radical and divisive ideas are being introduced into the curriculum without the Government first consulting parents.

“This follows the Government’s latest attempt to push its version of the Treaty and co-governance in education is Te Hurihanganui, a programme being introduced in schools in Te Puke, Wellington, Nelson and Southland.

“The Blueprint for Te Hurihanganui explains that ‘Building critical consciousness means reflecting critically on the imbalance of power and resources in society, and taking anti-oppressive action to do something about it for the better. It means recognising white privilege, understanding racism, inequity faced by Māori and disrupting that status quo to strengthen equity.’

“Every human shares 99.9 percent of their DNA. Government policy should focus on our common humanity and the challenges we each face as we go through life, instead of racially profiling children.

“What are teachers supposed to say to a ‘white’ child who may have no money or food at home, be abused, face a learning challenge, or any other challenge? How is it that their colour makes them privileged regardless of their individual circumstances?

“No child should have to be apologetic about their creed or colour.

“The reality is that Māori do face worse social and economic outcomes across the board. Good public policy like charter schools, overhauling the delivery of mental health services, and requiring rehabilitation in prisons, has the potential to deliver better outcomes for Māori. Indoctrinating young kids in radical and divisive ideas will not.

“New Zealanders overwhelmingly want New Zealand to be a united country where we reject these kinds of hurtful ideologies. The Government needs to start uniting us as a country rather than dividing us.”