Trial and Error: learning about racism through citizenship education

Trial and Error: learning about racism through citizenship education


Written by: Arun Kundnani

Imagine that the adults of the world have decided that the best way to deal with the planet’s problems is to ask young people how to solve them. What would they say about racism? That is the premise behind this set of information sheets and teachers’ notes, distributed on a CDROM, for use in key stages 3 and 4 of the national curriculum.

Written and compiled by Stella Dadzie, the author of Racetracks and the Toolkit for Tackling Racism in Schools, the Trial and Error CDROM takes an approach to anti-racist education which encourages students to find their own answers through thinking, communicating and working with others. Pupils are encouraged to think of their class as a sort of ‘tribunal’ whose task is to investigate issues of racism, identity and migration and then form a considered verdict on key questions.

The first stage in this task is researching the laws, values, rights and responsibilities that currently govern race relations in the UK and internationally. The CDROM includes a gallery of images and a certain amount of quotes, newspaper articles, legal information and statistical data, as well as pointers to further research using other printed or mulitmedia resources, the web or through contact with outside organisations.

After collecting evidence, pupils have to decide what they will keep of the current system and what they wish to change. To reach a decision, the group has to embrace the democratic principles of voting, debating and setting up committees – key aspects of the new citizenship curriculum for schools.

Students are guided through this process by information sheets which can be printed off from the CDROM. The key themes in the information sheets are: human rights, civil rights, the Holocaust, citizenship and identity, the criminal justice system, multiculturalism, migration, the British Empire, racial equality, democracy, public services, the media, the European Union, the United Nations, NGOs, the Commonwealth and global issues.

The Trial and Error CDROM has been made available free to secondary schools by the Department for Education and Skills.

Related links

Produced by Frontline Training

To order Trial and Error, telephone 0845 602 2260 or email quoting reference: DfES/0723/2003.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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