Ben Hill is a reporter for The New Zealand Herald

Students wear KKK hoods for class

The year 10 students at Tokoroa High School wore the hoods as a part of a history class. Photo / Supplied
The year 10 students at Tokoroa High School wore the hoods as a part of a history class. Photo / Supplied

They were glared, yelled and sworn at, but the teacher of a group of Waikato teenagers wore Ku Klux Klan hoods at school says it was all worthwhile.

The year 10 students at Tokoroa High School were challenged by their teacher Dean Tereu to come up with a "creative and non-traditional" way to enagage with their history studies.

"One of the girls had chosen the KKK as her topic. It started in class when one of them put a white piece of paper on her head and asked 'What does this look like?' and there were responses from out class, and then it just grew to 'What would happen if we walked around school like that?'"

No-one at the school, where 60 per cent of students are Maori and 20 per cent are of Pacific ethnicity, was warned about the stunt and Mr Tereu said the girls sparked a "very, very powerful reaction" as they made their way around the campus on Thursday.

"They got lots of very ugly looks, got a few very powerfully-worded comments from people.

There were some swear words and one of our teachers was about to confront them.

"I was about 10 metres behind them on purpose. The whole point was to see the response it would gather, we wanted it to be raw and real."

After talking to the girls in class today about their experience Mr Tereu is convinced it was a worthwhile exercise.

"We explained how it must've been for real in America in the 50s and 60s when it was reversed.

"It's been just magnificent, just the high-level questioning that it has encouraged.

"The girls were nervous, they thought it was going to be scary and it was scary. But now they want to take their studies to the next level, they want to find out about Elizabeth Eckford and Rosa Parks and all these famous people.

"In terms of what I was trying to do, making them think, getting them outside their comfort zone, for sure it was bang on what we would hope would've happened."

He said the feedback he has received has been overwhelmingly supportive, including from the senior management at the school.

"It's been really really positive once we explained what we wanted to do. The only negative comment I've received was that there's got to be a better way of teaching history, but the point was to envoke that anger and passion and recreate that stuff that the real people would've gone through."

- NZ Herald

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