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Casual bigotry in Danish schools

Context: working at a school. Being shoved around into teaching classes with zero ability to prepare because of personel crises.

ALSO - yesterday I was with the 14-sih year olds. We were looking at remakes of Shakespeare plays into movies online and came across ‘Romeo and Julius’. Most of the kids were laughing their fucking heads off. Mostly the boy assigned kids in the back. I let it go on for a second to feel out if it was just a nervous response to being confronted with sexuality AND if I had the energy to take it up. They just kept laughing…

So I turned around slightly - my back was to the whole class because I was working the computer connected to the projector. ‘You know I’m gay right?’ They stopped laughing pretty much dead in their tracks. Then there was a stuttering explanation from one of them ‘It’s just funny because we know this kid called Julius…’. I still fail to see the joke. That this kid might be gay? Or … actually I literally don’t know what else the joke could be. I didn’t explain any more or chew them out - just looked at him while he awkwardly explained himself.

They probably think I’m a boring killjoy. But I also sense that they really like and respect me. And quite a few of them seem to really look up to me. I just hope they can recall me as that queer woman who refused to take any shit. Hopefully whoever the queer kid is in that class feels cool and proud thinking about it.

My tactic was similar to the time with the same group of kids when we were in a human biology unit. Talking about digestion the teacher said something about how we don’t eat live animals because cooking them helps start digestion… followed by some comment about how we also don’t eat dogs. Kid yells out in the back, ‘Except the (insert nationality)! They eat dogs!’.  **

Under any circumstances this comment would warrant a conversation… why do we need to laugh about how a billion people are barbaric based on this half-assed so-called fun fact? But in this particular class there’s a kid recently immigrated from this country. I mean COME ON. I pulled him aside. I forget how I opened the talk but I somehow asked him to justify why it was a good idea to make that comment how reflect on how it might feel for that student. I didn’t say much. I think this is my new go to tactic - make the kids stutter and reflect and marinate in the awkwardness of having been a bit shit.

Another time I was helping younger kids read. Kid raises their hand, I come over to help sound out a word aaaand it’s ‘Little Sorte Sambo’ - ‘Little Black Sambo’. Which is a fucking racist children’s book in Denmark that somehow is still around. The kid has no idea of course what the cultural significance of this book is. I don’t know who his parents are because I’m not the one with primary contact to the parents. To me it’s clearly not helpful to tell the kid that he’s reading a racist book. But then what does it mean for me to carry on in that classroom pretending like nothing’s wrong with helping him read it?

I attempted to talk to a supervisor about it and met some standard bullshit - ‘this is Denmark, this is just how it is’. At the end of the day they simply don’t care that much what I think and have already decided that I’m a bit radical. So she promised to take it up with the teachers and nudged the topic away. I haven’t done enough to address this.

**I deleted the nationality to protect my identity/the identity of the students.

Minor musings... perhaps not always so minor. But I would like to have a place where it's okay to share minor thoughts. Little angers and sadnesses - without perfectly sharpening my form. More to come...

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