Primary colour balance
October 24, 2007
A primary school head teacher is to apologise to parents after their children were lined up according to skin colour for an official photograph. (School regrets skin colour photo, 23 Oct 07)
The headteacher says it’s an “error of judgement”!
Apparently, “teachers had mistakenly taken the advice of a professional photographer.” Though this might make you wonder how professional the photographer was. Or why it even occurred to the photographer to suggest it. Artistic merit? To test the camera’s colour balance?
And as for the teachers, were they not awake? Would they not have noticed if the children should be lined up by hair colour? Or if the ugly ones were sent to the back?
A little bizarrely, one of the school governors told a London radio station, “Unfortunately for some reason a decision was made, not a good one though, to take a picture of children in a particular alignment.”
When cameras were first around you might imagine the photographer telling the teachers that for professional reasons – the image forms on the plate upside down – the children would have to stand on their heads. Or should they all have stood aligned with the constellations or equinox?
It’s to be hoped this just goes away as a silly story, and the children and school don’t suffer.
Update – 2007/10/25:
But was it for a group photo with front, middle and back lines? Or a line to pose for individual photos, so the photographer had fewer technical adjustments to make?
See the reader comments on ‘Regret’ over segregated school photograph.
Update – 2008/03/07: But then see Pupils lined up by colour for photograph, Evening Standard, 23.10.07 for a rather different story about the effect the incident had on some of the pupils.
The following is prompted by a reader comment accidently left on a different blog entry. (I can’t work out how to move it here.)
It may not have been intentional racism. It probably wasn’t even racism at all. But telling the children to do anything based on their skin colour was… insensitive and ill-judged. No?