It took me a little while to work out why I kept thinking about this.

I was working with a group of Year 2 kids (6 or 7 year olds). The school is uniformed, it seemed quite privileged and most of the kids were white.

I asked one little girl to answer a question. She was shy so I waited, giving her encouraging smiles and gestures. Some boys in the class informed me in the silence while we waited for the anticipated answerm that she was Japanese.

I answered, "So? She can speak."

Later in the session, when she was working in a pair, I made sure she gave her feedback first. She was working with a oud boy so I made sure she had a voice. I was warned by another of the 7 year olds that she was Japanese. I answered that I remembered.

She spoke perfectly fluent English, with a soft voice.

I've been thinking about that ever since. This little girl ended up voicing her opinions quite freely, though quietly. I'm interested in how her shyness was excused by her 'Japanese-ness'. How her fellow 7 year olds had different expectations of her behaviour because she was 'different'.

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