NALDIC acknowledges the concerns and hurt expressed about Kate Clanchy’s memoir, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. NALDIC invited Ms Clanchy to give a keynote address at its 2020 conference Multilingual Britain: Successes, challenges and future directions in November of that year. Ms Clanchy was invited to that conference on the basis of another of her publications, England: Poems from a School, a much acclaimed anthology of poems by young migrants. Her keynote, which centred on that anthology as it related to the theme of the conference, was well received. The feedback that we routinely collect from delegates at our conferences gave no indication that her presence at it was problematic, at that time. Criticism of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me first came to our attention in August 2021, as it did for most other people. We were unaware of the content of that book before inviting her to give her keynote in November of 2020.
We consider many of the choices made by Ms Clanchy in writing her memoir not to align with NALDIC’s mission to support the education of linguistic minority children. We respect and support the right of NALDIC members to voice their concerns about Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me in whatever way they see fit.
NALDIC continues to be committed to supporting the education of linguistic minority pupils. Our 2021 conference EAL Perspectives on Decolonising the Curriculum offers an opportunity for open and frank dialectic about this aim. As we say in our publicity materials for the conference: “At the heart of decolonising work is a commitment to engaging with difference and change and reflecting on whose perspectives, knowledge and values are promoted and included, where, when and why, and how we ensure equity and social justice for all learners and teachers.” We look forward to reflecting with NALDIC members, presenters, and keynote speakers on this important topic. The events surrounding Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me will provide us with a clear foil for such reflection.