Although the phenomenon of stereotyping is not new, it still occurs both in everyday communication and in the educational environment. Sadly enough, neither students, nor teachers are prone to stereotyping others. However, while the problem of students stereotyping each other is a comparatively solvable issue, which may be addressed with the help of thematic lessons and parents’ and teachers’ guidance, educators succumbing to stereotypes about students is a more complicated one that leads to major drops in learners’ performance.
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Failing to identify the strengths of a student and, thus, help them become an efficient learner is one of the most obvious threats of stereotyping. Succumbing to certain clichés concerning the academic specifics, behavioral patterns or mental capabilities of learners of a certain background, a teacher is most likely to miss the opportunity to help the student develop new skills and learn essential information about a certain subject.
In other words, by stereotyping learners, a teacher will provoke the students for a negative response towards the instructor’s demands. Thus, the opportunity for establishing a connection between the teacher and the learner, which will promote further acquisition of the necessary information and skills, will be lost forever due to the “quasi-blind” (Burgess and Greaves 535) teaching method.
After observing the teacher’s biased approach towards a learner of a different background, other students may copy their instructor’s behavior. It should be noted, though, that young people tend to be less merciful in their conflicts; as a result, the student of a different background may find themselves ostracized to the point where they start developing a psychological disorder, such as depression (Burkley et al. 16). Therefore, both the learner’s performance and health are at stake if the teacher resorts to stereotyping instead of trying to understand the student’s motivations, needs and ambitions.
It should be noted that not all stereotypes are negative and that teachers often succumb to positive clichés concerning the students of certain backgrounds. For example, after learning that a student has been raised in the family of mathematicians, a teacher may expect the student to excel in mathematics and, therefore, be more demanding to the student in question than towards any other learners.
As a result of this pressure, the student may fail to deliver a good performance and, therefore, experience a severe drop in their self-esteem. Thus, a student will not only lose the chance to master a specific subject, but also may refuse to make an effort in any other discipline, faring a failure.
In order to resolve the conflict and help the learner, who needs nurturing and support from their educator, a teacher must reconsider their strategy and shape their approach towards the learners of different backgrounds.
This goal can be attained by learning about the challenges that the students of specific backgrounds face in educational setting. Unless the problem is addressed, the student, who is being stereotyped, may turn disappointed about his abilities of both acquiring information and communicating. Consequently, the aforementioned student may turn socially awkward and fail to achieve the academic standards that they are capable of reaching.
The participation of female students and other underrepresented groups in computer classes, mathematics and science careers can be enhanced by promoting the ideas of diversity in the class. In addition, positive behavior and confidence in the students’ abilities will serve as a major boost for the students’ confidence. Once the learners are convinced that they have decent support they will be able to challenge stereotypes.
Burgess, Simon and Ellen Greaves. “Test Scores, Subjective Assessment, and Stereotyping of Ethnic Minorities.” Journal of Labor Economics 31.3 (2013), 535–576.
Burkley, Melissa, Angela Andrade, S. Paul Stermer, and Angela C. Bell. ”The Double-Edged Sword of Negative In-Group Stereotyping.” Social Cognition 31.1 (2013), 15–30.