November 20, 2012
Robin Richardson interview with Sharon Duncan
Robin Richardson was the first director of the World Studies Project, 1973–79, set up by the One World Trust in London. He then became an adviser for multicultural education in local government (1979–1985) and the chief inspector for education in a London borough (1985–1990). From 1991 onwards he was director of the Runnymede Trust, a think-tank specialising in issues of race equality and cultural diversity.
Since 1996 Robin has been an independent consultant. His publications over the years include Learning for Change in World Society (1976), Daring to be a Teacher (1990) and Holding Together: equalities, difference and cohesion (2009). His most recent books are Pointing the Finger: Islam and Muslims in the British media (2011), co-edited with Julian Petley, and Changing Life Changes: projects and endeavours in schools (2012).
There is information about Robin’s recent and current work at http://www.insted.co.uk. He is interviewed here on behalf of the International Association for Intercultural Education (IAIE) by Sharon Duncan.
Sharon Duncan: Before we begin, I would like to thank you on behalf of the IAIE membership for agreeing to do this interview. As someone who continues to have an important influence on radical educators in the UK and further afield, this interview will provide intercultural educators with a privileged opportunity to reflect on issues that are central to our world vision. I would like to start, however, by asking you about your formative years; where you grew up, your family, your schooling and whether it is possible to identify a key experience or person (a turning point) that might have influenced the educational path for social justice you were to follow later in life.
Robin Richardson: I was born in 1936 in Birmingham. My father at that time was a bank clerk, and we lived in the small flat above the branch where he served each day behind the counter. He and my mother lived modestly and frugally, but they certainly weren’t poor and they spent money on private education for their three children, of whom I was the eldest, until the age of 11. My father had been a keen sportsman in his youth – rugby, cricket, swimming, boxing, tennis – and throughout my teenage years he was the men’s singles champion at a local tennis club. My mother, for her part, was the ladies champion at a church badminton club.
They were prudish in their attitudes to sex and related matters, and socially conservative in most of their opinions, and voted Conservative in all elections. The principal intellectual influence on them was Charles Dickens. My father had a complete set of Dickens’s novels and would often take down a volume and read a passage aloud to his children for their entertainment and moral instruction. Alas, the children were not as appreciative as they should have been, and this is one of the regrets I have about my childhood, looking back. Another regret is that I didn’t inherit any of my father’s sporting prowess. Read more of this post