Aspiration: Solutions to issues raised in Newsround
This recent Newsround report highlights that a significant number of students felt that their future was affected by their race, should be food for thought for many parents. Whilst the report focuses on schools and the impact that the teachers have, we feel that parents will be the most significant factor in addressing this issue. So we have developed an A-Z strategy for parents to help their children achieve their potential and get ready for the world of work. The complaint about low teacher expectation and the feeling of inadequacy is one that black children have aired since mass migration of West Indians in the 1960s and had heightened in 1999 after the Macpherson Report stated that schools along with other institutions were institutionally racist. The fact that this feeling is still significantly prevalent in the 21st century is quite alarming and it is important that parents actively do a stock take of their children’s feelings even if they feel that their children do not fall in the 1 in 5 category. In order to combat feelings of inadequacy and prepare your child to excel in education and beyond, you need to check and raise their aspirations. Dictionary.com describes aspiration as:
A strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition.
Raise your Children’s Aspirations
First, as parents you can raise your children’s aspiration by ensuring that they realise that they can achieve anything regardless of their race or background. Above all, they are human beings and so they have the skills, brains and opportunities to excel regardless of their post code, background or race. It is said that a parent is a child’s first teacher and so it is important that parents who want their children to excel ensure that they encourage their children every day with affirmative words and frequently ask them about their aspirations.
Teach children about professional achievers
Secondly, having worked with thousands of children of African and Caribbean heritage, it is disheartening to see how little the vast majority know about their cultural heritage or achievers within their culture. We usually start our programs with a simple cultural test and the results are the same time and time again; at least 90% of students can name 5 or more singers or rappers and very few can name any significant achiever from their background outside of the entertainment industry. Parents need to understand how the significance of learning about achievers such as Garrett Morgan who invented the traffic light and Dr. Charles Drew who performed the first open heart surgery can impact their children’s aspiration and their futures. Thankfully, schools teach about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks; but parents also need to do more so that students learn about these significant achievers and get to understand that their heritage is more than slavery or the civil rights movement. There are achieving black students and professionals of African Caribbean heritage from various blue chip companies such as KPMG and BT who are contributing positively globally.
Check on and Build your Children’s Self-Esteem
Thirdly, as a parent, you need to constantly check how your child feels about himself or herself as there are a lot of pressures from the media and friends to conform to a certain type of image. It is also quite natural for everyone to feel that they have not achieved anything in their lives or cannot achieve anything. Parents should take the time to regularly talk to their children about their achievements and aspirations; this will build their self-esteem and also greatly help the children to feel great about themselves and commit to achieving even greater goals. Recognising aspiration, nurturing aspiration and building on aspiration is absolutely pivotal if you would like to help your child excel. The exciting news is that simply focusing on aspiration; affirming your child, building their cultural esteem and talking to them about their aspirations can make a significant difference to their outlook and overall achievements.
Got any questions, ideas and feedback about raising the aspiration of young black students? Leave a comment below!