Louis Brown is a 2nd year Mathematics student at Oxford University and tutor at the Louise DaCocodia Education Trust Supplementary School.
Similarly to Sir Geoff, Louis frames his presentation around the stereotype of Black people being of lower IQ by narrating the story of the Larry P case from San Francisco, where IQ tests were carried out on children who were subsequently placed in classes for the “educable mentally retarded” if they failed to achieve the required score.
Unsurprisingly, there was an overrepresentation of Black children in these classes, not least because the questions were racially and culturally biased; for example, one of the questions cited by Louis was “What would you do if you found someone’s wallet [in a shop]?” ‐ a moral question in a test that ought to be measuring intelligence and capacity to learn. With this framing in mind, Louis went on to address how Black children can succeed in an education system that contains these biases.
Encourage independent learning where possible: Unfortunately Black students cannot rely completely on the education system in its current form, so we need to learn and share tools to broaden the terms of reference. Teaching students how to work independently to supplement their own learning will give them a ‘head start’. This will in turn enable them to improve marks, consequently enabling them to be placed in higher sets. This will also encourage and build self-belief that is necessary to prompt Black students to apply to top universities and pursue opportunities as they are presented to them.
Use of Saturday Schools: Louis volunteers with the Louise Da-Cocodia Supplementary School, where he assists Black children with Maths and English. The school not only fills in the gaps in children’s education, but also incorporates Black studies into their teaching. For example, the English department at the school created a writing programme based on Black figures such as space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock.
These schools are invaluable to the community and ought to be invested in; they help Black students who have fallen through the cracks in mainstream education and they push those who are succeeding to further excel. Additionally, the cultural and pastoral importance of African and Caribbean teachers teaching African and Caribbean children must also be noted.