Nanny is now aiming her anti racist policy at toddlers and pre schoolers. In Nanny's view you can be a racist, even though you are still in nappies.
Herman Ouseley, the former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, has got it into his head that staff at nurseries need to be on the look out for racism amongst their pre school charges. He is of the belief that to stop prejudice from developing, while children are still three years old, staff need to ensure that different racial groups "play together right from day one".
"Play together right".
Now there's an interesting expression...who decides exactly what constitutes the right sort of playing together?
Well, we all know the answer to that don't we children?
Nanny of decides!
Ouseley (sorry, Lord Ouseley) is of the belief that children may learn to categorise people as early as the age of three. He therefore recommends that nursery staff should "discourage separate play", and "help children to unlearn any racist attitudes and behaviour they may have already learnt".
How very Orwellian of you my Lord!
Ouseley is quoted as saying in the journal, Race Equality Teaching:
"It is important to consider whether patterns of play are consistently based on racial or cultural grounds.
If, for example, Muslim children nearly always play together and seldom play with other children, the question needs to be asked,
'Is there a reason for it that may relate to culture?
Jane Lane, who co-authored the article, is an early-years equality adviser whose publications are recommended by Nanny's Sure Start scheme. She believes that conventional wisdom that toddlers are "colour blind" is wrong.
"There is a view that children do not learn their attitudes until they are about five.
But people in the early years know that children at a very early age
at the age of three
are categorising people.
I am not talking about white children; I am talking about all children.
Many, many are racially prejudiced, for all sorts of historical reasons."
Margaret Morrissey, the spokesman for the National Confederation of Parent Teachers Associations, disagrees. She notes that children do not generally notice colour until at least the age of six, and that "artificial" attempts to force the issue could be detrimental.
"In all the time I have been involved in nursery education, since about 1975, I have never seen children segregating to play."
So there you have it folks, a disagreement between those who actually work with toddlers and those who theorise.
My views, as simplistic as they may be, go along the following lines:
- Children should mix together, irrespective of class, race, sex (up to 11 as single sex schools produce better results) or religion.
- People, like it or not, notice differences. Girls and boys notice that they are different. Those who are black, brown or white notice the colour difference and those who wear religious ornaments and clothing will notice and be noticed for their differences.
- To be different is not wrong.
- To believe that you are superior is wrong and destructive.
- Nanny should encourage mixing in, but should not attempt to prescribe as to what constitutes "playing right".
- Nanny should not try to impose social engineering on children, especially when her ideas are based on theories not scientifically proven fact.