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Short, Geoffrey and Bruce Carrington. “Children's Constructions of their National Identity”. In Critical Multiculturalism: Rethinking Multicultural and Antiracist Education, edited by Stephen May, 172-90. London: Falmer Press, 1999.


The aim of this chapter is twofold; first they examine possible reasons for why British anti-racist educators have given little attention to “the new racism,” and second they explore how it is that “the new racism” impacts children’s conceptualizations of their own national identity.

Drawing from Barker (1981), the authors generally define “the new racism” as the United Kingdom’s New Right’s imposition of its narrow and exclusive construction of British national identity into the National Curriculum in England and Wales. For the study, the authors interviewed 256 children from elementary schools in the United Kingdom and in the United States. The semi-structured interviews were centered on five general questions: “Are you British (American) or something else?”; “What makes a person British (American)?”; “Is everyone who lives in this country British (American)?”; “Is it possible to stop being British (American) and become something else?”; “Is being British (American) important to you?”

Based on the findings, Short and Carrington conclude that as long as ethnic minorities in Britain are viewed by the white majority as British only in the legal sense they will continue to be discriminated against. The authors end the chapter with recommendations for creating a curriculum that can counter “the new racism.” Among these recommendations are the need to identify misconceptions about different faith communities, the need to teach children to accept that ‘unusual’ cultural practices should not be understood as a danger to “the common good,” and that teachers must make it explicit to their students that Britain is, and has been for many years, a culturally diverse country with a strong social fabric.

Ana Laura Pauchulo