Friday, July 20, 2007

Young Turks.

Turkish children are one of the poorest performing ethnic groups in London's schools and the BBC is mystified as to the cause of this unhappy situation.
BBC News education reporter Hannah Goff visited a school in Hackney, east London, to find out why.

Several weeks ago nine-year-old Duygu didn't want to wear her traditional Turkish outfit at a special musical performance at her school.

She thought it was "uncool" - that she would be left out, her mother Canan explained.

She had also gone off playing a traditional Turkish instrument, the saz, at which she excels.

"She said it didn't sound nice any more," Canan added.

But her music group teacher talked her round just in time for the day-long celebration of Turkish culture at Berger Primary School.
Perhaps forcing children who appear want to integrate back into their ethnic box has something to do with it? Nothing like making sure children know their place, and that the place is as a multicultural decoration for their school. No doubt the school forces other nationalities to live up to their national stereotypes, and the playground is filled with French kids cycling with strings of onions round their necks, Saudi girls in burqas, and Thai boys dressed confusingly as girls,
"Now she wants to wear special Turkish trousers too and she wants to play her saz every day.

"Thanks to the music teacher the cultural barriers have disappeared again," Canan said
It looks more like the cultural barriers were coming down quite nicely until the music teacher put them up again and reinforced them.
For many Turkish-speaking pupils the fact that they have two languages to deal with makes the hurdles they have to jump almost impossible without extra help from bi-lingual classroom assistants.
Children throughout history have traditionally found it easier to pick up new languages than adults, children basically pick up language from their peers, which is why most people speak in the language and dialect of the place they were raised, rather than how their parents talk. That is, it seems, until bi-lingual teaching staff are brought in. During the 19th century, educational reforms meant that in Wales schools taught their pupils in English rather than Welsh which was usually spoken in the home. This wasn't a good policy from an ethical standpoint, but it does demonstrate the effectiveness of immersing children in an English speaking environment as it largely ensured that English replaced Welsh as the first language in the principality. Would it be too much to ask that English were made the first language of pupils in London?

Update: Rereading this post and the comments, I realise that I could come across as misanthropic git who turns purple with rage when he sees 'ethnic' costumes. This is only half right, whilst misanthropy is something I strive for I have no objection to a child liking to wear traditional Turkish dress. What is objectionable is the way the article gives the impression that the child's reluctance to do so is something which must be overcome. When I went to school thankfully I was never coerced into wearing the traditional costumes of my ethnic background. Which is just as well because being Scottish on one side and Irish on the other would presumably meant me wearing a kilt and balaclava.


Lord Straf-Bilderberg said...

I was dealing with Turkish children in south London and they were fine and just dressed and acted like anyone. I don't think a big deal should be made of it. If the kid likes ehr Turkish dress - OK. If she doesn't - also OK.

Ross F said...

Yes, there is no reason why she shouldn't wear Turkish clothes if she doesn't want to. It is just that the article gives the impression that the child's reluctance to wear it was a problem to be solved.