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OISE-led online show makes impact across borders, governments ​

May 4, 2021

Perry King


Karen Edge and her son Isaac’s talk about racism on the OISE Stay At Home Club, has been watched 11,000 times—and caught the attention of the Scottish government. The government's education arm added their viral conversation as a learning resource to support anti-racism education in the Scotland. 


When Dr. Karen Edge and her son Isaac decided to log onto Twitter and talk about race and racism, they had no idea it would resonate across platforms and borders.

Recorded live at home in London, England, the July 3, 2020 episode of OISE’s Stay at Home Club featured the duo as they shared how they understand and manage racism they encounter—and what others, parents and students, can do when they see it happening.

It’s been a hit, to say the least. The talk initially tallied 1,000 to 2,000 views and is currently counting at about 11,000 views to date.

“So, one of the children that Isaac went to nursery school with watched the Twitter live. His mum sent us a message four or five months later and said, ‘Remember when we've messaged to tell you we loved the Twitter session? My son now wants to show it to his entire class! Can you send us a link?’” said Edge, an OISE alumna.

“The talk had an influence on Isaac’s friends—kids his age. He's had messages from his teachers and educators across the world too. It's been amazing.”


Edge, who is faculty at University College London’s Institute of Education, is white and Isaac is mixed heritage with grandparents from Antigua, Canada, England and Sri Lanka. Their reflections were a hit in the OISE community.

“Thank you so much for sharing! My son and I were watching!” tweeted OISE Assistant Professor Jennifer Brant.

“Thank you so much Isaac and Karen,” tweeted OISE lecturer Dr. Shelley Murphy. “WOW! Your conversation this morning was incredibly powerful - I learned a lot from you. I look forward to sharing your wisdom with others (including teacher candidates at OISE). Thank you for so generously sharing your lived experiences with us.”


Admirers in Scotland

The Stay at Home Club session also caught the eye of the Scottish government.

Jacqueline Nimmo, a Senior Education Officer (Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equalities) at Education Scotland, follows Edge on Twitter and spotted this particular chat with her son.

“I knew immediately that this had a valuable contribution to make to our professional learning resources specifically to support anti-racism education,” she said. “There was unanimous agreement from Education Scotland colleagues working with me to improve learning opportunities related to equality and diversity.

“In my opinion, there is little that is more powerful than children’s voices as they share their own experiences and how these have impacted on them,” Nimmo added. “Isaac’s message is loud and clear here, carefully supported by the nurturing relationship with his mother.

Education Scotland reached out to Edge and their equity team and, with permission, added the full conversation to collated resources for practitioners. Education Scotland also edited the video to strengthen learning in two other resources. Those include Isaac talking about a lack of Black role models in literature in their literacy curriculum materials, and the importance of action by bystanders in their Mentors in Violence Prevention Programme.

The Stay at Home session is now being viewed a thousand-fold at a time.

“Since the summer of 2020 and the raised profile of Black Lives Matter, there is no question that there has been an increased demand for resources to support discussion about racism in classrooms across Scotland,” said Nimmo.

“Dr. Edge’s and Isaac’s contribution to these discussions has been very much valued.”


The choice to talk about racism

It was a valued conversation but both mother and son were nervous to take on the session – they had only prepared five post-it notes with a few words each to guide their talk.

“I was petrified, because I'd never done a Twitter live,” said Edge. “I do lots of big talks, keynotes and workshops, but I'd never done a Twitter live.

“I wasn't nervous at all about doing it with you,” she said to her son. “Were you nervous about doing with me?”

“I was just nervous about the talk,” replied Isaac.

Edge and Isaac also realize its value and will continue doing anti-racist work. Isaac sat down with the Ontario Principal’s Council to discuss the Twitter session and the prevalence of racism in their lives.

Edge, for her part, is working closely with schools and educational organisations across England and globally on issues of equity, gender and race. Edge formerly served as the Pro-Vice-Provost (International) at UCL and, in her work with UCL Alumni, recommended that they reach out to OISE to learn more about the Stay at Home series. That work continues.

The club has united alumni, faculty and parents/carers and children across Ontario and around the world, says Edge.

Ultimately, Edge and Isaac chose to talk about race at Isaac’s insistence. For them, and primarily for Isaac, race and racism are inescapable. In fact, over dinner one night, when Edge was contemplating a topic for her Twitter live, it was Isaac who volunteered to do the talk with her.  

“Isaac said, ‘Well, I'll do it with you.’ And I said, ‘Really? What would we do it on?’ And without missing a beat he said racism, because of Black Lives Matter.”

When Isaac volunteered it was a great opportunity to raise issues they are both passionate about. Edge was also hesitant for different reasons as she was also acutely aware of her own white privilege in this moment.

It was worth it.

“I am acutely aware of my privilege across so many different areas. I was nervous as a white woman discussing racism,” she said. “For many reasons that make me uncomfortable, I am able to talk about equity and race in a way that many of my Black or Asian colleagues can’t. So, I take that responsibility seriously but with frustration and sadness and anger.”

Reflecting on the experience, Isaac shared, “It was amazing to bring together so many people to talk and learn about racism. It also gave me confidence to talk about racism at school. It was also very cool and exciting to be able to do a talk for Canada.”


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‘More than my job’: Doctoral student Tanitiã Munroe’s commitment to Black youth and their families