Throughout this course, we explored how diversity plays a role in education from different perspectives. From a policy standpoint, we examined how governing bodies worked to foster diversity in public schools. Through policies like Title IX, schools strived to become more equitable and accessible for people from different backgrounds.
While the powers that be have set policies to improve conditions, we learned how societal changes needed to occur before the impact was felt. When the cultures of schools remain the same, the policy changes do not work. When public entities are motivated to promote diversity in their institutions and participants recognize the benefits of diversity, genuine change occurs.
We also learned how cultural background and identity contingencies affect people’s education. Challenges like stereotype threat can hinder student performance before they even enter the classroom. Most importantly, we learned ways to recognize the challenges of oppression and privilege to better meet the needs of all students.
There were many aspects about EDUC 577 that have impacted the way I teach. Recognizing how cultural background affects a students perception of school has helped me better differentiate my lesson plans to meet the needs of my students. Recognizing my own identity contingencies has helped me acknowledge that my experience in society may be very different than that of my students and coworkers. Identifying how privilege and oppression play a role in the school system has changed the way I view my classroom. I look forward to applying the principles we learned throughout this semester in my everyday life to ensure that my students get the education they all deserve.
According to the article Reducing Stereotype Threat, stereotype threat occurs when a person underperforms on a given task when they fear that they will fulfill a negative stereotype (The Teaching Center, 2016). Stereotype threat can have negative implications in the classroom when there is a discrepancy between potential and performance in students negatively affected by identity contingencies. According to Steele in Whistling Vivaldi, this phenomenon affects how students interact with their instructors and peers and impacts the life choices they make after graduation (2010). It plays a role in students’ developing identities and as instructors, it is important that we make conscious moves to reduce stereotype threat in our classrooms.
The strategies to reduce stereotype threat benefit all students in the classroom, not just students vulnerable to the phenomenon. According to the authors of Empirically Validated Strategies to Reduce Stereotype Threat, teachers should promote a growth mindset in the classroom (Materman). A growth mindset is the notion that students’ intelligence is malleable and everyone can increase it. Intelligence is not a fixed feature. This can be fostered by encouraging all students to improve and reach beyond their perceived limits.
Another strategy described in the 2016 article by The Teaching Center is to foster belonging in the classroom. Students should understand that everyone struggles academically from time to time and by working to overcome these struggles, they become a stronger student. Students should feel like failure and mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow.
The Materman article also suggests valuing diversity by creating homogeneous groups, valuing students’ individuality, and exposing students to role models from diverse backgrounds.
Lastly, the article suggests ensuring that assessment items are fair and free of bias. Students should understand that the assessment is used to measure their progress toward a given standard, not to measure their value or innate ability. Removing assessment questions that highlight stereotypes or work against students from a particular background reduces stereotype threat in the classroom. It creates a learning environment that is fair for all students. These strategies can help reduce the negative effects of stereotype threat in the classroom.
The infographic below provides a graphic for how to reduce stereotype threat in the classroom:
Materman, H. Empirically Validated Strategies to Reduce Stereotype Threat.
Steele, C. M. (2010). Whistling Vivaldi: How stereotypes affect us and what we can do. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
This week’s theme focused on how the internet can be used to foment hate and maliciously spread false information. The infographic linked in our content page described the pathways users can take to maliciously use the internet to harm others. One pathway that caught my attention was the “Marketing to Kids” pathway. I find that many of my students are fans of various “Youtubers” and look up to these people as role models. When I watched some of the content creators my 9th grade students talk about, I found some concerning things. One creator’s videos focused predominantly on selling merchandise to his audience. The video was a Christmas themed musical where the hook is literally “Buy that merch” (Paul, 2017). Adult viewers can identify this as an advertisement, but I’m not sure my students can. The video suggests that you aren’t an interesting person if you don’t buy the branded merchandise. It is very unethical for an internet personality to capitalize on young kids’ insecurities. There are certainly more damaging ways to use the internet, but preying on kids is one malicious way that stood out to me.
The interconnectedness of the internet age has worked to bring people together in ways that were impossible a short time ago. Participants can connect with friends, family, and people with similar interests around the world almost instantly. This resource has been largely beneficial, but there is an undeniably dark side to internet culture. In a 2018 article for the New York Times, Frenkel, IsaacandConger described the use of social media to foster and spread hate. Users are using platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to spread false information and hate speech. With a wide-reaching audience, this dangerous media is quickly and easily spread to thousands. The article writes that employees of Twitter are concerned that the platform is complicit in spreading hate speech as they are slow to address it. While posts on social media may seem insignificant in the “real world”, we have seen the impact of it in our politics. While I do not understand the nuances of free speech on the internet, I do feel it is the responsibility of the social media platforms to set clear guidelines for what their platform should represent.
The 2018 blog post by Haiken brought up a frightening example of hateful internet participation. The instructor had an anonymous user infiltrate her class’ Twitter discussions with anti-semitic and homophobic hate speech. Twitter banned the user several times, but the hate speech did not stop until the FBI was involved and the anonymous user was exposed. The user ended up being a student at the school where Haiken teaches. This example reinforces the idea that we need to teach our students how to use the internet in an appropriate manner. Obviously, students need to be taught empathy and compassion but the internet creates an environment where in-person kindness skills can go awry. I think it is important to teach empathy in the context of the internet. As evidenced by the amount of hate speech found on social media platforms in the New York Times article, it is clear that the internet provides a platform that can easily be used for evil (2018).