The voice of young people Racism has nested in the Finnish school world, says the researcher: “School can be a really scary place”

Helsinki teaches school and kindergarten employees a “anti-racist approach”.

The authors are the editors of the City of Helsinki’s Youth Voice editorial.

Helsinki has begun training teachers and others working in the field of education and training to work against racism.

A total of 4,500 educational professionals will be taught an “anti-racist” approach.

The training unit is funded by the National Board of Education and the City of Helsinki. The trainers are experts from the Institute for Peace Education.

Underlying this is the idea that structural racism is hidden in the activities of both schools and other institutions of society. Teachers are trained to detect racism through workshops, among other things. Teachers already need to address racism under the Equality Act and curriculum guidelines.

Heads of schools and kindergartens also take part in the training.

The project working as a project manager Elina Tuusa says 41 anti-racist workshops will begin in the fall. Operations will also continue in 2022.

The training has received good feedback so far. According to Tuusa, the participants said that they had learned, among other things, the identification of structural racism and the diversity of different forms of racism.

“The feedback also emphasizes the great importance of self-reflection, ie how important it is to look at one’s own preconceptions and ways of working,” says Tuusa.

University Lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland Anne-Mari Souto has studied everyday racism in schools. He keeps the conditionoIt is essential that the experiences of ‘racized’ young people be heard.

“I would like to hear the debate around this issue from a polyphonic and many different perspectives. We should also talk about the feelings that racism evokes: as a result of racism, for someone, school can be a really scary place. ”

According to Souto, teachers and study counselors do not currently have sufficient tools for anti-racist education.

“It should be invested in schools so that structural racism can be addressed in curricula, teaching practices and everyday interactions.”

Equality Ombudsman in the fall of 2019, collected data on discrimination experienced by people with an African background through an online form and individual interviews.

It turned out that the vast majority of people with an African background had experienced discrimination at different levels of education. Racist use had been experienced by other students, teaching staff, and also by other staff such as the curator and school nurse.

A freelance writer with a teacher background and active in the Brown Girls online publication Mona Eid has addressed the issue in its submission Everyone’s school? podcast. The series aims to challenge the “normative whiteness and middle class” of a Finnish school.

Based on Eid’s podcast, it could be said that Finnish primary schools are “really middle-class and white”. Those students who are closer to this norm do best in school, the message of the series is heard.

“Racialized students at school do not experience identification with the faculty because there are few teachers from visible minorities. The textbook pages also show a Eurocentric (Europe-centric) view of the world, both in catalogs and in content. ”

Racism is not just hate speech or violence. Eid points out that it hides structurally embedded in various institutions and ideologies.

He hopes that students will be treated in schools as individuals – not through a group or category. Everyone has prejudices, but they should not affect the treatment of students. According to Eid, it is important for teachers to identify their own unconscious prejudices.

“The feedback also emphasizes the great importance of self-reflection, ie the importance of looking at one’s own attitudes and ways of working.” – Elina Tuusa

Investigator Anne-Mari Souto has repeatedly encountered problems in student guidance in her research.

“There are nasty examples of how some teachers or opuses have downplayed a young person’s opportunities or suggested something not-so-demanding about the school.”

Study guidance should address racism and social inequality with young people more boldly. In many cases, speech in guidance is, according to Souto, too individual-centered and social issues such as racism are ignored.

“The worst thing is if young people are left alone in dealing with these issues.”

Rather, young people belonging to minorities should be encouraged and encouraged to realize their dreams: “Perhaps more than others – because their educational and working life paths are likely to be more rocky than other young people,” Souto recalls.

“Finnish as a second language teaching may also inadvertently include Finnish-speaking students who speak Finnish as their home language or even as a second language, based solely on skin color or appearance,” says Mona Eid.

In his experience, skills may be underestimated in other lessons as well.

“They are less encouraged and less expected. In student counseling, it is reflected in the fact that students, regardless of their school success and personal aspirations, are directed to areas where there is a great need for manpower, such as for nursing studies. ”

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