Diversity is an important aspect in the culture of the United States. Throughout United States and history to the present, there have been issues regarding different ethnicities, races, languages, socioeconomic status, and exceptionalities. Education plays a large role in bringing positive change in the form of social justice.
One of my biggest takeaways from this course is the responsibility every individual has on social justice. As a member of society, I have a responsibility to recognize my position regarding privileges I possess. I also have a responsibility to actively listen and assist those who are less privileged than I am. These are responsibilities that all members of society have, but some unique aspects are attached to those who hold certain positions. One of these positions that has been highlighted in the course is a role in the education system. I am a full time teacher in a public school who interacts with over 100 middle schoolers every school day. I am a model to my students and I am responsible for providing lessons that will prepare students to be functioning members of society. This includes advising students about identity and diversity as well as applying justice and action to continue positive reform.
The examples of social justice in education that have been accomplished inspire me to bring the topics of identity, diversity, action, and justice into the classroom. The education system ideally prepares generations to be valuable members of society so progression continues. I want to be a valuable part of that process.
Stereotypes are perceptions that change with time and perspective. These assumptions can be formed based on characteristics known as identity contingencies. Examples of these are race, gender, age, and physical/mental ability. According to The Teaching Center (2016), stereotype threat is “a phenomenon in which a person’s concern about confirming a negative stereotype can lead that person to under perform on a challenging assessment or test” (paragraph 1). Anybody can be a victim of a stereotype threat, but it is typically experienced by individuals who belong to an underrepresented group.
An average classroom population will contain a diverse cast of students who all carry different experiences and identities with them. Therefore, multiple identity contingencies are present. This diverse cast also comes with mixed perceptions on various identity contingencies. These perceptions can lead to stereotype threat. When stereotype threat is present, student performance decreases. An example of this was described in Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele. In the book, the author describes how a white student did not feel he was working to his full potential because he was a minority in the classroom environment. The class was focused on African American political science, and the students felt that he had to prove to them that he was not a stereotype of a young white male to his fellow peers, who were African American. This affected his performance and time spent in the class. This is just one of several types of stereotypes that can occur. Presence of stereotype threat hinders the ability for every student to work at their peak performance level.
Steele, C. M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: How stereotypes affect us and what we can do.
New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
The Teaching Center (2016). Reducing stereotype threat. Retrieved from