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Posted on December 26, 2012 3:25 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 616
How to combat stereotypes (Activity to use with preservice teachers)
The day of class, the instructor creates five columns on the board for the following ethnic groups: White Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. Then, preservice teachers are asked (encouraged) to share the stereotypes they know about these cultural groups. It is very important to explain to the preservice teachers at the beginning of the activity that sharing a stereotype does not mean that they believe the stereotype. Despite this explanation, preservice teachers are usually unwilling to share what they know. In almost all cases, the instructor needs to start the listing of the stereotypes and in this way participate with their students rather than solely acting as a facilitator. This step is crucial in developing a congenial, information-gathering and nonconfrontational climate that can diminish resistance. It is also a good opportunity for the instructor to both surprise and open-up the preservice teachers for free sharing by offering a provocative stereotype.

To start the activity, the instructor writes “criminal” in the African Americans column. Many students show an expression of disbelief through verbal and nonverbal means after seeing this stereotype. The instructor reinforces the idea that sharing the stereotypes does not mean believing them. Then, preservice teachers usually start to open up. After listing a few stereotypes, preservice teachers become giggly and participation in the activity increases tremendously. Following are some examples of stereotypes that preservice teachers usually offer:

White Americans: rich, arrogant, racist
African Americans: poor, criminals, athletes
Hispanic Americans: loud, tomato-pickers, illegal immigrants
Asian Americans: smart, nail salon workers, obedient
Native Americans: drunk, warriors, gamblers.

After the stereotypes are listed, a formal definition of stereotype is given as a generalization about a group people based on limited experience and evidence. Further explanations include how stereotypes overlook diversity within a cultural group. At this point, it is important to show preservice teachers that stereotypes are based on limited evidence and mainly come from media. To do so, the instructor asks preservice teachers to raise their hands to answer some questions based on the stereotypes list that is still on the board:

1.How many of you personally know an African American person who is poor? (About 10-15 in a class of 25 hands are raised.)
2.How many of you personally know an African American who is a criminal? (A few hands may be raised.)
3.How many of you personally know an African American who is poor and a criminal? (In most cases no hands are raised)

It is not necessary to go through each cultural group and each stereotype. The purpose is to make the point that stereotypes are essentially wrong in describing cultural groups because we (class) could not even identify one person who carried all the attributes listed. The next step in the activity is asking questions that mix the stereotypes and the cultural groups. To illustrate, we use the stereotypes listed under African Americans to describe White Americans. The following are examples of some questions:

1.How many of you personally know a White American who is poor? (A lot of hands are raised.) At this point it is appropriate to ask why preservice teachers did not offer poor as a stereotype for White Americans.
2.How many of you personally know an African American who is rich? (A few hands are raised.)
3.How many of you personally know a Hispanic American who is smart? (A few hands are raised.)

These questions effectively stir preservice teachers’ minds about the validity of stereotypes. Following these questions, a short discussion on the negative effects of stereotypes is held. To give preservice teachers concrete examples of how stereotypical thinking can come into schools and classrooms, two short vignettes from Ladson-Billings (1994) are offered in which teachers act based on stereotypical views of African American students. In one vignette, an experienced teacher explains to her student teacher from the neighboring university that there are “black-blacks” and “white-blacks” in her classroom. According to the experienced teacher, the white-blacks come from good homes and have good values, but that the student teacher will need to keep an eye on the “black-blacks.” In the second vignette, a student teacher explains classmates at the university that she does not reprimand African American students after they misbehave because she cares about them and wants to give then a second chance. Preservice teachers analyze these vignettes to find how stereotypes guided the featured teachers’ actions and the potential harmful consequences of those actions. The activity is concluded with a summary of what is discussed.
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Comments posted for this Tip: 4

Reps: 104
This may be an appropriate activity for a class to work on, but I wouldn't do it because it is a shaky subject. Students may take the stereotypes the wrong way or believe the negative things they've heard about blacks and Hispanics. This could bloom racism even more. On the other hand, it may have the opposite effect. Perhaps students would open their eyes and see that there are just as many poor white people as there are black people through their class alone. Maybe, I'm not sure. This could work or not. It would depend on the students in the class.
  Posted on: April 18, 2013 7:21 pm

Reps: 100
This is definitely an activity better suited for adults. I recognize the theme of the workshop is to point out many stereotypes teachers may have about cultures of people which may include views of their students. I would use technology with monkey survey or the Near Pod app to answer the stereotypical questions and view the responses on a Smart board. This activity could open up dialogue as a way to better understand other cultures and diminish stereotypes in the classroom.
  Posted on: October 19, 2014 12:03 am

Reps: 104
I agree that this is an activity to use with adults. The students would have to be very mature to discuss stereotypes that pertain to them and others. I believe this would definitely start a fight with anyone immature. Starting off with the questions would be a great way to begin the conversation instead of the 'name calling/labeling' activity in the beginning.
  Posted on: March 10, 2015 10:59 pm

Reps: 99
Great feedback, thank you.
  Posted on: March 6, 2017 4:20 am

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