Towards the end of last year, the newspapers appeared full of negative reports about teachers holding low expectations of students. Students from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds (especially white working class children and black children) are underachieving in schools and one of the causes, the reports claimed, is a ‘soft-bigotry of low expectations’.
It’s certainly possible that some teachers are explicitly bigoted, though I’d hope that people with such outspoken prejudice could not last long before being ejected from the profession. Implicit bigotry, subtle prejudices that influence behaviour, is harder to spot – but surely the overwhelming majority of teachers working with vulnerable groups of children are passionate and genuine in their desire to provide the best opportunities for those students, regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Teaching is often such a challenging and emotionally exhausting job, it’s hard to believe anyone who didn’t have a genuine commitment would last very long.
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