Bernard Coard on the Experience of the Wrongly Classified Child

“The experience of being removed from a normal school and placed in the neighborhood ‘nut’ school, as everybody calls it, is a bitter one. The child feels deeply that racial discrimination and rejection have been practiced towards him by the authorities who have assessed him wrongly as being ESN [Educationally Sub-Normal]. Other Black children, who are young and unsure of themselves, may simply accept the judgement of themselves as being of low intelligence and give up any attempt to succeed academically. The immense influence of other people’s expectations in creating the child’s own self-image of his abilities and likely performance will be examined, with evidence, in Chapter 3.

On the other side of the coin, the teacher who is told by the educational ‘experts’ that a child is ESN, will obviously expect the child to be ESN. Therefore, the sort of work she will give the child, and the standard she will expect of him, will obviously be much lower than in a normal school. This means the child will learn much less than he is really capable of, and will be very frustrated day by day in the class room. That such children quite often ‘act up’ and become behaviour problems under these circumstances is to be expected”

Excerpted from: Coard, Bernard. How the West Indian Child Is Made Educationally Sub-Normal in the British School System: 50th Anniversary Expanded Fifth Edition. Kingston, Jamaica: McDermott Publishing, 2021.

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