Confronting Pre-Service Teachers’ Stereotypes: The Road to Self-                 Awareness and Self-Reflection            ...
as an inevitable process that asserts “…as long as stereotypes exist, prejudice will follow.”(Devine, 1989, p. 2)       El...
Methodology    This qualitative study focused on a representative sample of 29 teacher education students(see Table 1) who...
African-Americans. Students were challenged to think about other sports when making this      assumption and learned that ...
food                               •    Romance                 •   Masculine    Jamaican                Polish           ...
individual members of the agent group. These things are a part of the “business as usual”       that became embedded in so...
Students submitted reflections as one of their required assignments on any topic prior tothe next scheduled class meeting....
in dancing and entertaining. They are very passionate about       the nine items. (WF)their culture and religion; they lov...
generalizations and usually have some basis in fact. The          negative way.problem is that ignorant people only know t...
themselves and others. I feel like people were     intimidated to say what they were actually     thinking because they we...
This was also a great exercise because it allowed us                                                     as future educato...
in an attempt to get preservice teachers to connect theory with practice. The benefits ofinteractive exercises and candid ...
AuthorDarrell Cleveland is Assistant Professor, School of Education in The Richard Stockton Collegeof NJ, Pomona, NJ 08240...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Dr. Darrell Cleveland, The Richmond Stockton College of New Jersey - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, Houston, Texas -


Published on

Dr. Darrell Cleveland, The Richmond Stockton College of New Jersey - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, Houston, Texas -

Published in: Education
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Dr. Darrell Cleveland, The Richmond Stockton College of New Jersey - Published by NATIONAL FORUM JOURNALS, Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, Editor-in-Chief, Houston, Texas -

  1. 1. Confronting Pre-Service Teachers’ Stereotypes: The Road to Self- Awareness and Self-Reflection Darrell Cleveland, PhD The Richmond Stockton College of New Jersey ABSTRACT It is the responsibility of teacher education programs to provide opportunities forcandidates to engage in course work and discourse that challenge them to address theirown racial identity development and attitudes about diversity topics. This qualitative studyfocuses on a sample from 29 teacher candidates’ responses to their participation in aninteractive exercise addressing stereotypes. This essay considers the importance ofengaging teacher candidates in candid discourse and reflection about their own biases andprejudices as a result of stereotypes. Qualitative measures reveal increases in awareness ofbiases and prejudices and a reduction of stereotypes. The findings also show theeffectiveness of the instructor’s approach.Key Words: stereotypes, diversity, reflections, bias and prejudiceWhen I saw you on the first day of class, I thought you displayed an extreme amount ofconfidence. You were very well dressed and when you spoke, you were very articulate. I wassurprised you were African-American. You are the first African-American professor I have hadin my studies at this institution. And honestly, because of your race, I assumed you were goingto be a difficult teacher and an unfair one. I can say now that I was wrong! (WF) Teacher education programs throughout the country presently serve mostly White femalecandidates. According to the National Education Association (NEA) 2005-6 Status of theAmerican Public School Teacher report, 87 percent of all teachers are White. Many of theseteacher candidates come from homogeneous environments. After completion of theircertification programs, many of these White teachers will encounter students from differentracial/cultural backgrounds that may conflict with their own. As a result of this fact, teachereducation programs are charged with preparing teachers to teach all children. Diversity and multicultural education content is essential when addressing difference as itrelates to privilege and oppression. One way to address oppression and difference is through theexamination of stereotypes. As a result of history, socialization, and, in many cases, personalcontact, people categorize others (consciously and unconsciously) on physical and socialdistinctions such as race, gender, and age (Fiske, 1998; Wheeler, et. al, 2005). Categorization orstereotyping (Allport, 1954; Billig, 1985; Ehrlich, 1973; Hamilton, 1981; Tajfel, 1981) is defined 73
  2. 2. as an inevitable process that asserts “…as long as stereotypes exist, prejudice will follow.”(Devine, 1989, p. 2) Elsea (1984), in her book The Four-Minute Sell, asserts that individuals have 7-15seconds to make a good first minute impression and four minutes for these same individuals todecide if they want to interact with a person beyond the first four minutes. Elsea identified thenine most important things noticed about people in our society in order of importance: • Skin Color • Gender • Age • Appearance • Facial expressions • Eye contact • Movement • Personal space • TouchThese nine factors influence relationships on a daily basis when we see individuals, 1) notice, 2)assess, and 3) make decisions about how to 4) interact with that individual. The over-arching objective of this stereotype exercise was to challenge teacher educationcandidates to think critically about: (1) their own biases/stereotypes; (2) where stereotypesoriginate, and (3) how categorizing/stereotyping can affect children in the classroom or, morespecifically, allowing the power of bias and prejudice as a result of stereotyping to dis-empowerchildren. As it relates to stereotype and prejudice reduction, Rudman and others (2001) noted,“A key factor in multicultural training concerns awareness of ones own biases. Students areoften challenged to find (and question) the ways in which they unwittingly oppress others” (p.858). The challenge in facilitating this content is two-fold. First, as an African-American male,I must acknowledge my own prejudices and stereotypes. As facilitators Obidah and Howard(2005) assert: Teacher educators have to challenge their own assumptions about the students with whom they are engaged in this process. As members of the same race and class-based society as our students, we bring our own biases and expectations about the different racial and ethnic groups of students who come before us to be educated. (p. 254)As a minority, I must acknowledge the stereotypes I possess about my primarily White students.The second challenge relies heavily on socialization. As a result of our socialization in a societythat has historically oppressed ethnic minorities, stereotyping is part of the American social orderthat shapes negative attitudes and beliefs (Ehrlich, 1973; Devine, 1989). Taking account of myown prejudices, biases, and stereotypes and acknowledging my privileges ensure students thatenlightenment about diversity is life-long. Critical engagement (intellectual and emotional),critical reflection, and ongoing self-reflection regarding one’s own biases, prejudices, andstereotypes drive my pedagogy for this exercise to answer the question: How can I encourageprospective teachers to examine bias, prejudice, and stereotypes related to their future students? 74
  3. 3. Methodology This qualitative study focused on a representative sample of 29 teacher education students(see Table 1) who participated in this exercise as part of a scheduled three part diversityeducation module. All participants were engaged in a foundational privilege exercise thatexposed students to White, Male, Heterosexual, Ability, and Class Privilege. Students alsoengaged in intergroup dialogue, and some submitted reflections on their experiences. Exposureto this content allowed students to participate more openly in the day two exercise, addressingstereotypes and biases. Table 1 Student Demographics White Black Latino(a Bi-Racial ) Male=10 (25%) 8 (28%) 1 (.03%) 1 (.03%) Female=19 (75%) 14 (48%), 2 (.07%) 2 (.07%) Total participants = 29 22(76%) 3 (10%) 3 (10%) 1 (.03%) The participants in this study were enrolled in a requisite foundations course that mettwice per week in the teacher education program at a Historically White Institution (HWI) in thenortheast. The reflection papers utilized as data for this study were not solicited by theinstructor. Students were, however, required to submit four written reflections on any coursetopic of their choice. The key concepts considered for this study are reaction and culturalawareness as a result of participating in this interactive exercise, lecture, and discussion designedto engage students emotionally and intellectually, while encouraging critical reflection.ProcessAt the beginning of this session, students were instructed to identify 3-5 things they first noticedabout the instructor on the first day of class. Students were later instructed to get into smallgroups and identify stereotypes for each group. After discussing their findings, each groupshared their stereotypes of each group. The stereotypes documented by each section arediscussed in great length (see Table 2). For example, the stereotype that all Blacks/African-American’s are athletic sparked good debate in each section. When asked why they thoughtBlacks/African-Americans are athletic, the common themes that emerged were the NationalFootball League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). As the top two sports inthis country, it is easy to see how students think this. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics inSports reported, in 2008-09, 82 percent of players in the NBA were African-American, and in2007-2008, reported African-Americans made up 66%, and baseball represented only 10.2% of 75
  4. 4. African-Americans. Students were challenged to think about other sports when making this assumption and learned that there were, in fact, more White athletes when you consider all sports, such as soccer, hockey, auto racing, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, golf, fencing, equestrian, horse racing, and other sports showcased in the winter and summer games. Students also realized the socioeconomic status of different sports. For example, many Black/African- American athletes who play football or baseball started out in pick-up games in unstructured environments. Eventually, these unstructured activities will emerge into structured coaching environments that usually cost little money. Other sports, such as tennis, golf, gymnastics and hockey, require specialized training, equipment, and appropriate space. These sports require large sums of money to finance trainers and memberships to golf clubs, or gymnastics clubs. Table 2 Student Identified Stereotypes Black White Asian Latino(a) Native-American Athletes 1. Loud 1. Can’t dance 1. Smart 1. Short 1. Drunks 1. Dumb 2. Can’t Drive 2. Good Dancers 2. Reservations 2. Black 2. Athletic 2. Racist 3. Family 3. Large Families 3. Spiritual 3. Rich 3. Good 3. Un-athletic Oriented 4. Unemployed 4. Entitled Dancers 4. Rich 4. Passive 5. Loud 5. Womanizers 4. Watermelon 5. Spoiled 5. Nail Salons 6. Rude 6. Cheaters 5. Fried 6. Entitled 6. Short 7. Can’t Speak 7. Good Food English Chicken 7. Arrogant 8. Can’t Speak 8. Machismo 6. Angry 8. Uptight English 9. Sexists 7. Uneducate d 8. Lazy 9. Always late 10. Criminals 11. Religious 12. Prison Table 3 Student Identified Sub-Group Stereotypes Black White Asian Latino Native-American Athlete Sub-group Sub-group Sub-group Sub-group Sub-group Sub-group American Jewish Chinese Puerto Rican Black Foot Male• Violent • Cheap • Good food • Loud • Dumb• Uneducate • Faith • Karate • Good • Rich d dancers African Italian Japanese Dominican Illini Female• Smart • Mafia • Technolog • Good • Homo-• Elitist • Good y dancers sexual 76
  5. 5. food • Romance • Masculine Jamaican Polish Russian Columbian Sioux• Marijuana • Dumb • Vodka • Drugs• Reggae • Alcoholic • Alcoholics • Soccer s Haitian Canadian Indian Cuban Seminole• Poor • Hokey • Seven-11 • Illegal• Voodoo • Spicy Food • Good food Students were later instructed to identify a minimum of two stereotypes for each identified sub-group (see Table 3). What is interesting here is students had a difficult time identifying more than two stereotypes for each sub-group, especially Native-American sub-groups. This was a prime opportunity to identify the dangers in categorizing and transitioning to the diversity within diversity by Lynch & Hanson (1998):  Socioeconomic Status  Amount and type of education  Time of arrival in the U.S.  Region of habitat and type of region(e.g. urban, suburban, rural)  Reason for immigration and migration experience  Proximity to other members of their cultural or ethnic community  Proximity to other cultural groups  Age Students are then presented with Kreitner & Kinicki (1995) primary dimensions of diversity:  PRIMARY - Things that all people are born with and cannot change – we have no choice –most visible;  TERTIARY - Involves historical moments and historical eras;  SECONDARY - Represents consequences of the primary and tertiary categories. Other areas of diversity discussed were Hardiman & Jackson’s (2007, p. 17) framework on agent groups (the group that has the greater access to social power and privilege) and target groups (the group that has limited access to social power and privilege) and how oppression exists: 1. One social group, whether consciously or unconsciously, exploits another group for its own benefit. 2. One social group has the power to define and determine what is “normal”, “real”, or “correct.” 3. Harassment, discrimination, exploitation, or differential/unequal treatment, are institutionalized and systematic, not requiring the conscious thought or effort of 77
  6. 6. individual members of the agent group. These things are a part of the “business as usual” that became embedded in social structures over time.This was followed by a discussion on Categories of “otherness” by Tatum, (1997): “Otherness” Form of Oppression  Race/ethnicity  Racism/ethnocentrism  Gender  Sexism  Religion  Religious oppression  Sexual Orientation  Homophobia  Socio-economic status  Classism  Age  Ageism  Ableism  Physical/Mental Ability Students were later instructed to revisit their responses to the original instructions: toidentify 3-5 things noticed about me on the first day of class. Responses ranged from well-dressed, strict, organized, mean, etc. However, my race was not identified when the questionwas asked. Here students are then introduced to Janet Elsea’s 4 minute sell as previouslydiscussed. According to Elsea, skin color is the first thing people notice, but my race was notmentioned. Students were challenged to address why my race was not mentioned, especiallysince it is the most noticeable. To summarize the power point presentation and exercise, studentsare presented with the following questions: Student Responses How do the stereotypes recorded by the class make you • Uncomfortable feel? • Angry • Embarrassed • Surprised • Ashamed What do you notice about the stereotypes listed? • Negative • Funny • Most only one word • Ridiculous! Where have you seen these stereotypes portrayed? • Television • Movies How do you think a stereotype might cause someone to • Generalize act unfairly toward another person? • Ignore them Reflection on Experience 78
  7. 7. Students submitted reflections as one of their required assignments on any topic prior tothe next scheduled class meeting. The following student responses represent student reactions totheir participation in the exercise and discussion. Seventeen (17) students (59%) respondedvoluntarily as one of their four required reflection papers on any class topic of their choice.Thirteen (13) females (10 White, 2 Black and 1 Latina) and four male students (4 White)submitted reflection papers. The following reflections highlight two emerging themes. The firstis student reaction to the exercise, and the second theme is self-awareness of personalattitudes/beliefs and actions. Garmon (2005) defines “self-awareness as being aware of one’sown beliefs and attitudes; I define self-reflectiveness as having the ability and willingness tothink critically about oneself. I am treating these two together, because for prospective teachers,to increase their multicultural awareness and sensitivity, these two abilities need to go hand-in-hand” (p. 277). All 17 responses are provided in order to demonstrate growth and emotion withinthe aforementioned themes. Both empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests student reactions demonstrate theirengagement in the exercise. Student participation during the class exercise and their reactions inwritten reflections supports White’s (2009) theory that emotional engagement promotes criticalreflection. Moreover, students identified both intellectual and emotional responses in theirverbal class responses and written reactions. Self-awareness of personal Reaction to the exercise/discussion and attitudes/beliefs and actions critical reflection Wow! After participating in the stereotype exercise, it Before doing this exercise in class, I hadbecame apparent to me that I stereotype, a lot! Most of the never realized how many stereotypes existed instereotyping I do is unconscious, but I do it! And in some society. I never heard the stereotype that blackway or another, I believe everyone stereotypes to some people are late and that Asians were consideredextent. Whether it’s because of a person’s age, race, sex, passive. It is ignorant how people can make suchreligion…the list could go on and on. (WF) broad generalizations about others. Teachers may stereotype their students based on race, religion, or My first impressions of African Americans are ethnic background and how they function in theusually that they are loud and obnoxious because they classroom. Of course this is wrong. Entire groups ofalways were at my high school. I also think that they are people cannot be judged based on individual actions.very athletic because when we had gym class, the black (WM)people would always beat everybody in most situations. Ialso think that they are good at dancing and entertaining Next, another exercise was written on thebecause the drill team at my high school had very talented board. This time Black, White, Asian, Latino, Nativeblack dancers and you could just tell they liked to dance. I American, and Athlete were broken down into threealso know they are very religious and go to church every separate categories. Black was broken down toSunday, which is good. Jamaican, Tahitian, and Haitian. White was brokenMy first impressions of Asians are that they are very smart. down into Italian, Jewish, and Polish. Asian brokeThe Asians in my school were always book smart and down into Chinese and Russian. Athlete wasalways very into technology. They took schoolwork very characterized as male versus female. After breakingseriously and cared about their grades because it is enforced down the categories into further subgroups, moreto them by their parents. Asians hold very high standards stereotypes arose. Each subgroup brought alongfor school and grades and we can see that by test results different stereotypes. You could not classify thecomparing the United States and Japan. I also have an whole group now once it was broken down into theimpression that Asians cannot drive and they do not subgroup. I found this exercise interesting andcomprehend English well, they are hard to understand with informative. We went over nine things that peopletheir accents. I also have an impression that a lot of Asians notice about others in descending order. Race,are short. gender, age, appearance, facial expression, eyeMy first impression of Latinos is that they are very talented contact, movement, personal space, and touch were 79
  8. 8. in dancing and entertaining. They are very passionate about the nine items. (WF)their culture and religion; they love to embrace it, which is agood thing. I also have an impression that a lot of Latinos I was very surprised by the way that stereotypes cankind of struggle with money, but they work hard for what influence the way you may treat students in yourthey have. They also are very family centered people and class. I never consciously think about the differenttend to have bigger families. stereotypes that accompany every ethnicity or race,My first impression of Native Americans are that they but going over some of the stereotypes in class Iembrace their reservations and where they live because it is thought back to my fieldwork. At every school I hadvery important to them to be surrounded by people in their been at, I could think of at least one incident Isame tribe and culture. I also hear a lot that Native witnessed firsthand that revolved around aAmericans can become very depressed and deprived and a stereotype. Sometimes it may have been a joke, butlot of them like to drink to forget about their problems. from an outsider looking in, I felt uncomfortableThey are very spiritual and self-sufficient. just witnessing it. Although the teacher and some ofSince I am a white female in this country, many different the students laughed, the other students and maybenationality groups would probably think that I am more even the one at the center of it were unsettled andprivileged than they are. A lot of people think white people that could carry over into students losing control orare superior and dominant in this country, which used to respect for you as the teacher, or worse. (WF)maybe be true, but times are changing. I do in some waysthink white people have advantages, mostly sometimes While listening to my fellow classmates views ondealing with money; but then again a lot of black and Latino race I realized the negative impact that commonpeople have good jobs and make a pretty good income for stereotypes can have on targeted groups of people.themselves. I think white people have a better chance of The fact that these negative connotations still existgoing to college, just because of the money situation, not must mean that they are believed by the commonbecause they are smarter than everybody else; but in some population. Thus our country is not reaching itsinstances that is not true, there are a lot of different fullest potential to succeed. People must really thinknationalities going to college now, not just white people. I that these negative connotations hold water, but instill sometimes think that white men are privileged more in reality they are false. Not all Asians are bad driversthis country because a girl and a man can go for the same and smart, not all African Americans are late or loud,exact job and be exactly qualified for the job and the female (not all whites are nerdy, crackers and rich, and notbeing maybe even more qualified than the male, and the all Jewish people are successful. The list goes on andmale gets the job, just because he is a male. Sadly, we all on, but there is a constant, they are all negative.judge and have first impressions of people in this country Even though the stereotype “all Jewish people areand that will never change. (WF) successful”, seems positive, it can still have a negative effect on the Jewish population. For Today our discussion focused on stereotypes and instance, we must think about the Jewish individualspreconceived notions of individuals based on the way they who do not live up to this expectation. Theseappear. When first thinking about this concept, I began individuals most likely see this as an insult orasking myself if I did this and how often I actually judge offensive. This is also true for Asians who might notindividuals based on their appearance. I realized that I do all be intelligent as thought by the majority. Peoplethis daily and it is not something I even notice myself cannot be judged by their race, color, or creed; but ondoing. I then thought to myself, how terrible is that? To their actions. People cannot be judged as a whole;judge someone based on their race, the way they dress, and every person is unique in their own way and cannotjust a person’s overall appearance is completely judgmental. be grouped into stereotypes. (WM)Unfortunately, this is the type of society we live in today. Ican honestly say that when looking at the big picture, it is Some other important things we discussed was thenot right, but it is something I do daily. (WF) fact that people are discriminated based on their appearance, lifestyles, sexuality, race, social class, Another topic we discussed in class was etc. Also the fact that teachers have been known tostereotypes. There was some debate over whether all make fun of their Homosexual students by calledstereotypes are negative. I think stereotypes will be with them names such as “fag” and other offensive forever. Some stereotypes are false, but I actually have This particular information struck me because asto agree with Bill Maher’s view on stereotypes. In the humans we all have our biases based on our pasts,power point, I believe he was quoted as saying “All our experiences, the media, what we read in ourstereotypes are true.” At first this seems ignorant and history books, etc. Therefore, as future teachers wepossible racist, but as a fan of his comedy and brand of have to be conscious of these so it does not reflecthumor I know what he was trying to get at. Stereotypes are how we relate and interact with our students in a 80
  9. 9. generalizations and usually have some basis in fact. The negative way.problem is that ignorant people only know the stereotype In closing, I thought this class exercisesand not the “why.” The stereotype that blacks are criminals were great. It allowed us to see each other’sisn’t true, but it is true that they are overrepresented in our differences, similarities, and our biases for what theyjail system. An ignorant person sees that as proof that they are. After doing this exercise I have further hopeare criminals or more prone to criminal behavior. An that our American school teachers can move pastintelligent person sees that skin color has nothing to do with the student’s race, nationality, sexuality, etc. andit. If you take history into account and socioeconomic focus on merely on educating our children becausefactors, you start to see a clearer picture. The stereotype that should be the main objective beyond anythingthat blacks are faster than other groups is true (at least I else. (BF)believe so). I don’t think it has anything to do with colorthough. There are many factors that play a role. Also, it In class we discussed stereotypes and how they weredoesn’t mean every black person is fast. As we discussed in not true. Fellow students said that there were someclass, blacks that were brought to this country as slaves stereotypes that were good, but the fact is that therewere bred to be bigger and stronger. In Africa, the blacks is no such thing as a good stereotype. It is easy tothere spend a lot more time engaged in running or pick out the “bad” stereotypes like all black peopleexercising as compared to the average American. Here we like fried chicken and red cool aid, or all whitehave cars and the need to run is usually one of choice not people cannot dance. Stereotypes like all Asians arenecessity. (WM) smart and good at math, or all black people are athletic are considered “good”, but what happens to People are constantly being judged based on every an Asian child who is not good at math? Or a youngaspect of one’s life. I purposely stated every aspect of a black child that is not good at sports? They are thenperson’s life because it is true. We are judged according to ridiculed for not fitting into their own stereotype.what schools we have attended in our lives, our race, our (WM)gender, our religion, our social class, our ethnic group, ourpolitical beliefs, and I could go on forever. We as During class we discussed the issues surroundingindividuals are truly judged on every aspect of our lives. I diversity. Specific diversity issues included race,am not saying everyone is judged according to everything I ethnicity, and religion. Throughout the discussion wementioned, but I do believe that on an average day, every related our own personal views and stereotypes toperson is stereotyped in some way based on one those those views of the class and the rest of the world.characteristics. We as individuals are so different and that is Throughout the discussion of diversity it becamewhat makes the world go around. If we were all the same, evident to me that stereotypes only inhibit thethen what would we talk about? It would be a pretty boring progression of our in my opinion. (WF) Stereotypes will always be around; they I believe that, as future educators, we cannot deny have been for as long as I know. The only issuesthe fact that stereotypes exist or even deny that they are are what people do with them. Someone can laughsometimes true. As educators we have to be able to help at them and know that fallacies in them or they canour students use all the pieces of information learned in become overly sensitive about them and waste muchapplication to the real world. Students have to learn the of their time being angry, they can perpetuate themgood and bad sides of stereotypes. Even if we taught enacting hate crimes, or can combat them bystudents to turn a deaf ear to any stereotypes heard, there educating the youth about them and making societywill be that one day in the child’s life when they will start aware of them. In this I can say that our discussionlistening. In a perfect world there would be no stereotypes was interesting and made some individuals in ourand people will learn to accept other people at face value class uncomfortable. I cannot say that I am sorry forand have no preconceived notions about them. this; all I can say is that I am glad it made themUnfortunately, it is not a perfect world. There are good and uncomfortable. If people are not comfortable withbad stereotypes, just as there are good and bad people. It’s stereotypes about others or themselves they shouldnot a teacher’s job to tell their students how to deal with do something about them. Being silent is just asinformation learned about other people. It is our job to help good as agreeing. So I say talk about the stereotypesstudents realize how to use the information to develop their and acknowledge them because just ignoring aown idea of the world and its inhabitants. (LF) problem doesn’t make it go away. (WF) When we did the stereotypes discussion in class I thought it was really interesting. I thought that people would have been more honest about 81
  10. 10. themselves and others. I feel like people were intimidated to say what they were actually thinking because they were afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. This is a big problem with people in society today. People are so afraid of saying something or doing something that will hurt someone’s feelings. They are afraid of being ‘politically incorrect’ that they cannot even voice what they think to be true. Do not misunderstand what I mean, many stereotypes are based on truth but are not truth themselves. Many stereotypes are thought to be truths and people accept them as this. So many individuals are not willing to admit that they, even on some levels, believe some of the stereotypes that they have heard. By saying them they feel as though they are admitting their guilt. Individuals, I have found, are selfish. They don’t want people to look at them differently and they don’t want to feel differently about themselves. Stereotypes will always be around; they have been for as long as I know. The only issues are what people do with them. Someone can laugh at them and know that fallacies in them or they can become overly sensitive about them and waste much of their time being angry, they can perpetuate them enacting hate crimes, or them can combat them by educating the youth about them and making society aware of them. In this I can say that our discussion was interesting and made some individuals in our class uncomfortable. I cannot say that I am sorry for this; all I can say is that I am glad it made them uncomfortable. If people are not comfortable with stereotypes about others or themselves they should do something about them. Being silent is just as good as agreeing. So I say talk about the stereotypes and acknowledge them because just ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. (WF) A list of stereotypes was listed on the black board for particular groups such as Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Native-Americans, and Athletes. The class came up with stereotypes like can dance, hot temper, steroids, cheap, can’t drive, and rich. Then we broke it down in to subgroups such as African, Jewish, Russian, Cuban, Seminole, and Male/Female Athletes. As we broke down the groups we came up with very different stereotypes for the particular subgroups than we did with the whole entire group. I thought this exercise was great because it allowed us to realize just how many stereotypes we sometimes believe to be true based on our past experiences but as we broke the stereotypes down into subgroups we realized that people of the same race, nationality, or group are not necessarily the same type of people and it is not fair to expect the same actions from each person in a particular group.82
  11. 11. This was also a great exercise because it allowed us as future educators to understand that we have to approach our students as individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and reactions so that we can be more affective in understanding their viewpoint and learning habits. We than discussed how within each group there is discrimination. For example, rich Black people look down upon poor Black people. Also, that an Agent Group is a group that has greater access to social power and privileges, while a Target group is a group that has limited access to social power and privilege. This goes back to what we talked about in the previous class about the privileged and underprivileged. Understanding these advantages and disadvantages allows us as future teachers to understand the obstacles our students face outside of the classroom, which will be reflected in their performances and responses in the classroom. (BF) Responses from these reflection papers also identified self-awareness as a result ofcritical reflection. Students demonstrated an understanding of the negative consequencesstereotypes have on their future students. Because students were not required to reflect on thisexercise, the high response rate not only indicated the students’ willingness to understand theirbiases and stereotypes, but also demonstrated the students’ self-journey towards self-growth andawareness. Results and Discussion The question focused on, “How can I encourage prospective teachers to examine bias,prejudice, and stereotypes related to their future students?” This analysis is not meant to implythat prejudices, stereotypes or pre-conceived notions of participants will disappear, but they willbe challenged to think critically about the impact of stereotypes. Findings show participants inthe stereotype exercise and discussion became more aware of stereotypes and their own biasesand stereotypes and their negative effects on students. Students became more knowledgeable ofthe impact of diversity within diversity and the primary, secondary, and tertiary dimensions ofdiversity. Students displayed emotions during the exercise and in their reflective writing, andthat allowed them to think critically about oppressive systems and behaviors that may impacttheir students. Finally, students acknowledged their roles in eliminating stereotypes in theirpractice, despite the reality stereotypes will remain present in society. Unfortunately, minority participation was limited, but the low numbers were not only areflection of the lack of diversity in this teacher education program, but most programs. Multipleperspectives are especially important when addressing issues related to diversity and socialjustice. Future studies could address multiple courses and graduate courses to analyze attitudesduring and after the exercise. As teacher educators, it is our responsibility to transform aspiringteachers by exposing them to the theories, language, and practices that maintain status quo. Thisis accomplished by intentionally engaging students in interactive exercises and candid discourse 83
  12. 12. in an attempt to get preservice teachers to connect theory with practice. The benefits ofinteractive exercises and candid discourse addressing topics of diversity challenge students tothink critically and, in most cases, reveal emotional changes. Hopefully, the methods describedwill enable all educators of diversity and social justice to address stereotypes and other issues ofdiversity without conflict. ReferencesAllport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Billig, M. (1985). Prejudice, categorization, and particularization: From a perceptual to a rhetorical approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 15, 79-103.Ehrlich, H. J. (1973). The social psychology of prejudice. New York, NY: Wiley.Elsea, J. (1984). The four-minute sell. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.Fiske, S.T. (1998). Stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. In D.T. Gilbert, S.T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed.). (Vol. 2, pp. 357–411). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Garmon, A. M. (2005). Six key factors for changing pre-service teachers attitudes/beliefs about diversity. Educational Studies, 38(3), 275-286.Hardiman, R., & Jackson, B. (2007). Conceptual foundations for social justice education. In Bell, L., Adams, M., Griffin, P. (Ed.), Teaching for diversity and social justice (pp. 16-29). New York, NY: Routledge.Kreitner, R., & Kinicki, A. (1995). Organizational behavior. Chicago, IL: R.D. Irwin.Lynch, E., & Hanson, M. (1998). Developing cross-cultural competence. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.National Education Association (NEA). (2010). Status of the American public school teacher 2005–2006.Obidah, J. E., & Howard, T. C. (2005). Preparing teachers for “Monday morning” in the urban school classroom. Journal of Teacher Education, 56(3), 248-255.Rudman, L. A., Ashmore, R. D., & Gary, M. L. (2001). "Unlearning" automatic biases: The malleability of implicit prejudice and stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(5), 856-868.Tajfel, H. (1981). Human groups and social categories: Studies in social psychology. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Tatum, B. D. (1997). Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about race. New York, NY: Basic Books.Wheeler, M. E., & Fiske, S. T. (2005). Controlling racial prejudice social-cognitive goals affect amygdala and stereotype activation. Psychological Science, 16(1), 56-63.White, K. R. (2009). Using preservice teacher emotion to encourage critical engagement with diversity. Studying Teacher Education, 5(1), 5–20. 84
  13. 13. AuthorDarrell Cleveland is Assistant Professor, School of Education in The Richard Stockton Collegeof NJ, Pomona, NJ 08240. 85