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Promoting ‘fundamental British values’ in schools: a critical race perspective

Abstract

Fear and anxiety about the ‘Muslim other’, the failure of state multiculturalism, and the perception of a disjuncture between white British values and that of Islam have become a concerning feature of the British policy landscape. The government—in response to the so-called ‘Muslim threat’—has called for a ‘muscular’ promotion of fundamental British values in the nation’s schools. As a result, ‘the rule of law’, ‘individual liberty’, ‘mutual respect’, and ‘tolerance’ have been advanced as fundamentally British principles “we should try to live by every day” (Cameron 2014). Informed by critical race theory, this paper raises important and timely questions about the dangers of conflating democratic values with British national identity, outlining how the current policy climate has served to: decivilize Muslim lifestyles and identities; construct ‘white British’ norms and mores as culturally superior; portray young Muslims as pre-disposed to extremist views and violent behaviors; and force the country’s teachers to take up roles as instruments of surveillance and defenders of the white hegemonic order.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    To include: Extension of the Terrorism Act 2000; Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001; Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005; Terrorism Act 2006; Counter-Terrorism Act 2008; and Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015).

  2. 2.

    To include the ‘7/7’ central London bombings (July 2005), the Glasgow airport attack (June 2007), the murder and decapitation of British soldier Lee Rigby (May 2013), the shooting of Labour MP Jo Cox (June 2016), the Manchester Arena bombing (May 2017), and the recent London attacks (Westminster March 2017/London Bridge June 2017 attacks).

  3. 3.

    Head teachers

  4. 4.

    School Workforce in England: November 2016 (SFR 25/2017) (DfE 2016)

  5. 5.

    Defined in the 2011 Census as White English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British

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Correspondence to Claire E. Crawford.

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Crawford, C.E. Promoting ‘fundamental British values’ in schools: a critical race perspective. Curric Perspect 37, 197–204 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41297-017-0029-3

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Keywords

  • Anti-Muslim racism
  • Fundamental british values
  • Cultural supremacy
  • Critical race theory