Promoting ‘fundamental British values’ in schools: a critical race perspective
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.
Article -- 2017