Friday, 23 October 2015

Challenging Stereotype

Being an ex South African, rooting out discrimination of any sort is very important to me.  My maternal grandfather was highly political and did hard labour for his activities in the ANC.  My mother stayed out of politics; perhaps because she and her siblings had suffered the hardships her dad’s imprisonment dealt the family.  But she was not afraid to voice her opinions in as strident a way as possible.  And while at times I was embarrassed by my mother’s loudness, over time I came to value her openness and questioning attitude.

She instilled in me a deep love of reading.  But more importantly she fostered the idea that I should not take everything read as concepts set in stone.  In a recent Twitter post on how to get children to read, Joanne Harris said it so much better than I do. 

My childhood reading, along with people skills learnt from my dad has definitely helped me become the adult I am today.  And while I’ve never been as bolshie as my mother I’ve learnt to stand my ground about issues which matter to me.  When I worked as a teacher I challenged discriminatory behaviour by posing questions which I hope made my students see the world in a new way and ask their own questions rather than accept everything they heard or read.  When this technique didn’t work I would always resort to the sense of humour I believe I got from my dad.

Now as a tutor, I work with many different organisations and it makes my heart swell with joy to come across so many children and young people who are constantly breaking down barriers and sticking a finger in stereotype’s eye.  

It thrills me that I get to meet individuals who are doing everything they know to make our world a more cohesive rainbow nation.

So I’m extremely pleased to announce that the children’s author, Rosemary Hayes, has agreed to do a guest post about how she challenged stereotype with a series of books on Travellers.

Rosemary, a huge thank you for taking the time in your busy schedule to do this for me.

Rosemary’s post will go live mid November.  If you would like to read her series of Traveller books before then, or any of her other work, just follow the link.

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