A young teacher confronts inequality in education

Rebecca Newton

Rebecca Newton 1992 –

A teacher at the Bruderhof’s high school in England, Rebecca studied education in the United States and Germany, where she received her master’s degree. One thing that has occupied her over the years is the way educational systems reinforce and perpetuate class:

Already in the fourth grade, German students are identified, on the basis of a teacher’s recommendation, as candidates for the university track, or for a shorter education that prepares them for a blue-collar job. In theory, parents have a say in this. But studies show that the reality is different. Almost always, educated parents will push to get their child into a higher class, whereas uneducated parents won’t dare to question the teacher’s authority. 

I did my student teaching in an alternative school which was theoretically egalitarian. But you should have seen the difference between the way migrant children and the children of lawyers or professors were treated. 

In our Bruderhof schools, there’s no pressure to prepare a student for a certain career, or for life in a certain income bracket. Our main goal is not to turn out high achievers. We want to prepare our graduates to use the knowledge or skills they gain to serve humanity and to value themselves and others, not on the basis of their achievements, but simply for who they are.

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