Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stereotypes in the Classroom...

All African Americans are great athletes, all Jews are wealthy and all Asians are math geniuses are just a few examples of overwhelming stereotypes that hinder student learning. Stereotypical thinking affects the learning process by blocking out what students don't want to hear. Many times stereotypes are drilled in the back of students minds and make the student ignorant about a certain characterization of a group. This affects the actual complex thinking which students need in order to broaden their thinking.
According to the text, "Teachers, Schools and Society", about half of white Americans endorse common stereotypes about blacks and Hispanics, such as the belief they are not very intelligent. These stereotypes can be very dangerous to education. An example of how stereotypes can cause a negative learning environment is if a teacher asks a question the African American student may know, but he doesn't raise his hand in fear of getting the wrong answer and reinforcring the stereotype. Stereotypes can also create a belief that no matter what a student does he or she wont be as good of an athlete as the African American and not as good of a student as the Asian. This creates negativity and decreases motivation in many students. These are all examples of stereotype threats. Stereotype threats are a measure of how social context, such as self image, trust in others,and a sense of belonging, can influence academic performance.
Although I strongly disagree with any type of stereotype it is hard to banish them completely from our lives. They have been around so long that is is almost virtually impossible to get rid of them. What we can do is make students more aware of the dangers of stereotypes and show them all the positive things people have done regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity!  

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