Children Faith and Marginalisation Work in Progress Greg Smith University of East London For Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Children’s Perspectives on Belonging to a Faith Community • Known as the “Friends, Food and Faith” research Project • Working in 3 multicultural schools, 1 in London, 2 in a Northern City • Studying nearly 100 Year 5 and 6 children, ages 9-11 • Looking at social cohesion and social capital issues • Using mainly qualitative methods, observation and in depth interviews
Paper based mainly on one school in the North • A Roman Catholic School, serving a multi-faith community • Fieldwork in school over half a term, present roughly half each school week • Year 6 class about to leave for secondary school • Questionnaires, worksheets, diaries, copies of school work, participant observation, taped interviews and discussions • Usually with pairs of children, some individuals and small groups
Family or self belong to any religion(s) by Gender? Boy GirlTotal Christian 4 9 13 30.8% 69.2% 100.0% Muslim 7 1 8 87.5% 12.5% 100.0% Hindu 1 1 2 50.0% 50.0% 100.0% mixed 1 1 100.0% 100.0% Total 13 11 24 54.2% 45.8% 100.0%
Watch Blue Peter? often sometimes No Total Christian 1 7 5 13 7.7% 53.8% 38.5% 100.0% Muslim 1 7 8 12.5% 87.5% 100.0% Hindu 1 1 2 50.0% 50.0% 100.0%
Similar patterns of religious attendance (everyone had at least occasionally) been to public worship, a festival or rite of passage. • Practice in the home (privately or with family members) of some prayer, scripture reading or ritual was common across the faith groups but not universal. • Attendance at religious classes was common, but for Christians it was occasional, or weekly, for most Muslims it was 3 hours daily.
In School Time • Everyone did RE with a multi-faith syllabus • Christians and Hindus took part in Mass, though only initiated Catholics took communion. • Muslims (and a few Pentecostals) went to do work in another hall • In regular assemblies all were present but Muslims did not generally sing • At lunch separate vegetarian and halal tables but many Muslims had packed lunch • Most Muslims missed the field trip
Together as a Team • The class play… Romeo and Juliet • Reminiscence Therapy for leavers • Collective social control… stopping Tarj getting a yellow card • Valuing diversity..
Main Playground Groupings • The “Lads” (included 2 Muslims, 2 Hindus, , 3 white Christians…sporty and “fit”) • The Mosque boys.. (6, overtly Islamic, attend the Jumma mosque, some were kin) • The girls (all white, Christian / RC, working class.. Link to boys through “cute” Andrew) • The inseparable pair, (Pushpa (Hindu) & Lily (RC) both middle class) • The isolates.. Charles (fat boy), Val (excludable) Taj..(Hindu, joker) • Best friend pairs, (Andrew/Taj, Robina/Harriet)
Are there any other gangs that go around together in the class to spend a lot of time together… • the lads.. • Which lads?(in chorus) • Javed, Jayraj, Andrew, David, Hanif,Parvin, • Javed, Jayraj, Andrew, David, Hanif,Parvin, • Mainly all the boys really • I think that figures with what they've told me… but what about some of the other boys? You haven't mentioned people like Usman, Zaffir • They like hang around with each other because they are trying to learn the whole of the Quran.. So they just hang around with each other and help each other out.. We don't hang around with them… • We hang around with all the girls and sometimes with all the boys… and go to town with them • (2 White RC girls)
Why don't you play with the rest (mosque boys)? • …..Because they don't want to play with us? • ….I asked . but .they just start… • …..They tell us to ??? off… • Why do think they do that? • I think it is to do with colour… racism • They don't like white people ….. • But Javed and Hanif and people like that mix with you? • Yes • It's just the others .. Out in the yard when they think we are going to get the ball only..Ahmed said a "black b..." that's going to be racism isn't it? • Ahmed is a good friend… and Zaffir is a good friend out of them lot… but the others are not our friends. • I don't argue with them because we'd soon get into a fight and get detention… • (2 white RC boys)
Muslim Children Outside School • Time is constrained.. 15 hours in mosque school each week • Friendship and play often restricted to kin (cousin-brothers), who live locally and go to same mosque • Neighbourhood segregation and racism/ communalism also constrains links across communities • Food regulations, and other cultural norms makes visiting non-muslims, birthday parties, mixing with girls etc. difficult. • Religious restrictions on TV viewing?
Why do you think that gang of boys are all friends.. • You know how it is .. it's just us Muslim boys? • Muslim boys? • Yes • Is that important for you? • We've known each other for ages like…and.. we are even at mosque in the evenings together.. • Other friends? • Zafar.. H.. he is in high school.. he is from here and he goes to the same mosque.. and he is in my same class.. so I play with him in F.. street where I live.. • Any more? • His cousin… he is the same .. I play with him… he comes to the same mosque as well.. and then my cousin Adam.. he comes here as well. • (two Muslim boys)
Secondary Schools • Most children are going to the default local comprehensive, which is an RC high school. • For most it preference is about where friends and relatives go, where there is no reputation for bullying or trouble • Most children see positive values in having a mixed faith intake • Some Muslim children, (and one Christian) are expecting to be sent to a faith school, but have some anxieties about it. • Children don’t see much different about church schools
Did you put down any other schools Yes Br………. I didn't want to go there anyway as none of my mates go there… ---------(default high school and her first choice) is another Catholic school isn't it Yes but it still got Muslims What do you think you like the idea of a church school? It's better mixed ...because you get taught about their religion And there are fit boys Do you think it would be a good idea if, say Muslims have their own schools and Christians No.. ….. It wouldn't be right… it's like if they just separated boys from girls.. That wouldn't be right…I don (Two White RC Girls)
Conclusions? • In this case study there is some evidence that Muslim children are marginalised. • This may be reinforced by certain school practices • But it is not the case that all Muslim children are marginalised • It is perceived by other children that “the mosque boys” exclude others, and are taught to keep separate. • The “mosque boys” themselves have a strong and articulate Islamic identity.
PS: We were going to call this paper • Kids, Faiths and • Panda • Monium