• The Black Lives Matter posters made by senior students at a North Sydney primary school. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Former teacher and CEO of IndigenousX Luke Pearson says classroom discussions about racism and critical thinking are essential after the NSW Police Minister called for a teacher to be sacked for "brain-washing" students.
Shahni Wellington

21 Apr 2021 - 4:47 PM  UPDATED 21 Apr 2021 - 4:47 PM

Indigenous education advocates are calling for a 'reality check,' as a North Sydney School faces on-going fallout from creating Black Lives Matter posters in a classroom exercise.

It was revealed on Wednesday that a teacher may face disciplinary action for conducting an activity in February that involved students in years 5 & 6 creating posters that supported the Black Lives Matter movement and to stop Aboriginal deaths in custody. 

The materials have since been removed and a review was announced by the New South Wales Education Department to see if disciplinary action will be taken against the teacher.

It's a series of actions that CEO of IndigenousX and former teacher, Luke Pearson, told NITV News is "ludicrous".

"I understand this was a year 5/6 class - That’s generally about ten and eleven years old, and in Australia, ten years old is old enough to be locked up," Mr Pearson said.

"If we can lock up ten-year-olds, I think ten-year-olds can have their opinions on police.

"I think they can have an understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and understand that there is a lot of racism within our society - particularly within policing in Australia," he said.

The story has made headlines this week as the New South Wales Police and Emergency Services Minister, David Elliot, took to radio and television screens to describe the posters as "brain-washing" and "indoctrination."

Mr Pearson condemned his response.

"As a former teacher I always worried that we teach a lot of our institutions and about our society as we ideally wish it was, rather than the reality of what it is," he told NITV News.

"So to think that there are teachers out there engaging kids in critical conversations, accepting that police, politicians, media people are people are flawed, are fallible, and to engage them in these complex discussions is the exact opposite of indoctrination."

"It’s exactly what schools are meant to be doing," Mr Pearson said.

NITV News has viewed a letter sent to parents of students that explained the exercise was part of a "pre-learning activity" aimed at identifying what students knew before they started studying "contemporary Aboriginal history."

A spokesperson for the Department said "the comments on the poster are in no way endorsed by the department or represent the department’s view of police, who do an indispensable job of keeping the community safe and secure."

Police Minister previously critical of BLM

While it's the latest of the critical comments made by New South Wales Police and Emergency Services Minister, David Elliot, to make headlines - they aren't the first. 

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests last year, Minister Elliot condemned anyone planning to attend Australian demonstrations, describing them as “nuts” and not “of sound mind”.

In response to the posters made by students, he described the exercise "brain-washing" and "indoctrination."

“They have completely let their student body down by indoctrinating and brainwashing them at a time when they really should be learning how to read and write,” he said to 2GB on Wednesday morning.

He continued his media rounds and spoke on breakfast television saying the posters are pushing "left-wing ideologies".

"This is not the way it would need to educate our children ... They don't need the police built up as some sort of bogey man which is what we're seeing with this indoctrination."

The review by the NSW Department of Education is currently underway.

Black Lives Matter movement has raised awareness & understanding of racism in Australia
Reconciliation Australia says the international Black Lives Matter movement has led to heightened awareness and understanding of racism at home this year, following the release of its 2020 Barometer report.