Building Better Citizens:  How to Foster a Positive Conversation on Race in the Classroom Stephen Menendian Attorney and S...
Hesitancy to Talk about Race <ul><li>Most people do not know how to talk about race in constructive ways.  It’s even harde...
Race Talk is Important <ul><li>Now more than ever there is a critical need to talk about race and diversity  </li></ul><ul...
<ul><li>Preparing Students for Citizenship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US Supreme Court: “The objective of public education is t...
Benefits of Diversity and Race Talk <ul><li>Social : Racial and cultural fluency promotes cross-racial friendships, increa...
[U]nless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together. -  M...
Diversity in the Workplace <ul><li>The workforce is becoming increasingly diverse: almost two-thirds of entrants to the ci...
The Logic of Diversity Diversity of Identity, Beliefs, Experiences Diverse  Perspectives Better Outcomes Source: Scott Pag...
Benefits of Viewpoint Diversity <ul><li>Viewpoint diversity encourages better outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More creative...
Toolbox View ABD EZ AHK FD Alpha Group  Diverse Group ADE BCD ABC BCD ACD BCD AEG IL
Multidisciplinary View Econ Soc Math Hist Alpha Group  Diverse Group Econ Econ Econ Econ Econ Econ Polisci Bio
Logic of Diversity <ul><li>“ Most of the time  the diverse group outperforms the group of the ‘most talented’ individuals ...
Race Talk Is Important <ul><li>Race Talk is a critical avenue for allowing students to encounter diverse viewpoints. </li>...
Achieving the Benefits of Viewpoint Diversity <ul><li>That requires moving beyond numbers  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multicult...
Techniques for Race Talk <ul><li>Explicit Ground Rules.  Classrooms need safe, supportive space for discussion.  </li></ul...
Techniques for Race Talk <ul><li>Facts matter.  Not all students will buy the facts, but being armed with the facts helps ...
Lesson Plan Ideas <ul><li>Ice Breaker for Middle School and High School Students: Have the students each share a situation...
Lesson Plans <ul><li>Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>The following illustrates a collective classroom searc...
Lesson Plans <ul><li>(Cont.) Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>Amos: “When George Washington was elected pres...
Lesson Plans <ul><li>(Cont.) Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>There was a list of race, class, and gender gr...
Discussion Ideas <ul><li>Incidents and Current Events:  Most schools have race “incidents.”  A discussion of these inciden...
Discussion Idea <ul><li>What are areas in our school that can be more integrated? [For example, the cafeteria, playground,...
Discussion Issue: Addressing Explicit Racism <ul><li>Ask the students to raise their hands if they have heard friends or a...
Discussion Ideas <ul><li>Use made-up comments that include racist or racial undertones for classroom discussion: </li></ul...
Understanding Framing <ul><li>Framing is about how people think, and how they interpret information and process arguments....
False Dichotomies and Framing From which top hat will the magician pull a bunny?
False Dichotomies and Framing <ul><li>Neither one. When a question is framed as a dichotomy, it is  difficult to think out...
Framing How messages are framed affects how they are perceived.
Colorblind Frames <ul><li>One barrier to talking about race is the belief that we shouldn’t be talking about race.  This i...
Abstract Liberalism Frame <ul><li>Abstract liberalism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rationalizes racial outcomes by assuming equa...
Abstract Liberalism Frame - Responses [Reframe Merit] What is Merit?  Is merit test scores?  Or does background and life e...
Naturalization Frame <ul><li>Naturalization is a frame that suggests that racial phenomenon is a natural occurrence.  Alth...
The Naturalization Frame - Responses <ul><ul><li>One counter technique is to talk about ways in which students are segrega...
Cultural Racism Frame <ul><li>Cultural racism is the culture frame: that blacks don’t value education or that Latinos have...
The Cultural Racism Frame - Response <ul><li>Acknowledge that individual effort matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the ro...
The Minimization of Racism Frame <ul><li>Minimization of racism is a frame that suggests discrimination is no longer a cen...
Minimization of Racism Frame - Response <ul><li>Suggest that structural inequality has its greatest impact on groups, not ...
Incorporating Diversity <ul><li>Q: What if I have a homogenous student population? </li></ul><ul><li>A: There are many cre...
Discussing Diversity <ul><li>Q: What if I’m not comfortable discussing diversity? </li></ul><ul><li>A: Now is a great time...
Resources <ul><li>Use movies, articles, activities to facilitate discussions around stereotypes and prejudice </li></ul><u...
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Building Better Citizens: How to Foster a Positive Conversation on Race in the Classroom

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  • * The work we do at the Kirwan Institute often involves audiences that are receptive of our message. - “Open but skeptical” * We are not often asked to defend our positions in this environment; however, the general public we encounter on a daily basis is not necessarily as receptive. * With the Kirwan Mission &amp; Vision statement obliging us all “to assist in reframing the way that we talk about, think about and act on race and ethnicity,” we want to use this time to practice these skills as they arise in contexts beyond Kirwan. ***** Goals of this Brownbag: -This is intended to be an exercise that helps us all become more comfortable addressing race when it comes up in everyday situations. -We want to provide a collaborative environment in which we can hone our communication skills and share speaking strategies. -This is meant to be a learning process for us all. We don’t have the answers either. There may not be universal answers. the individual characteristics of both the person theoretically saying these fictitious statements and each of your individual attributes will shape responses. We’re open to entertaining a variety of possibilities coming from numerous perspectives.
  • The research is clear that
  • Contact theory suggests in order to most effectively impact self-esteem and cultural fluency, there must be noncompetitive, collaborative contact between students with equal status from diverse backgrounds.
  • Building Better Citizens: How to Foster a Positive Conversation on Race in the Classroom

    1. 1. Building Better Citizens: How to Foster a Positive Conversation on Race in the Classroom Stephen Menendian Attorney and Senior Legal Research Associate, Kirwan Institute October 5, 2009 Source: Lester, Julius. Let’s Talk About Race
    2. 2. Hesitancy to Talk about Race <ul><li>Most people do not know how to talk about race in constructive ways. It’s even harder to manage constructive conversations on race. </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for the hesitancy include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of offending certain students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear that the conversation will spiral out of control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of inter-group conflict </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not sure what to say </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teachers need to feel confidant that they can manage a classroom discussion. There are techniques for doing this. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Race Talk is Important <ul><li>Now more than ever there is a critical need to talk about race and diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Preparing students for economic self-reliance, as well as civic life in 21 st century America requires greater racial and cultural fluency accompanied by diverse educational experiences and exposure to diverse perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>The educational benefits of diversity and exposure to diverse viewpoints in a classroom setting have never been more important </li></ul>
    4. 4. <ul><li>Preparing Students for Citizenship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>US Supreme Court: “The objective of public education is the inculcation of fundamental values necessary for the maintenance of a democratic political system.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employment </li></ul><ul><li>Building Human Capacity (personal/social) </li></ul>Consider The Goals of Education
    5. 5. Benefits of Diversity and Race Talk <ul><li>Social : Racial and cultural fluency promotes cross-racial friendships, increases comfort levels, helps break down racial stereotypes, positively impacts attitudes towards students of other racial groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Educational : Exposure to racially diverse cultural knowledge and social perspectives promotes development of critical and complex thinking skills. </li></ul><ul><li>Civic : Children with greater cultural fluency live and work in more integrated settings, and have higher levels of civic engagement. </li></ul><ul><li> Particularly important during a student’s early years, when his or her attitudes about and understanding of race are not yet concretely shaped. </li></ul>
    6. 6. [U]nless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together. - Milliken v. Bradley (1974) Thurgood Marshall
    7. 7. Diversity in the Workplace <ul><li>The workforce is becoming increasingly diverse: almost two-thirds of entrants to the civilian workforce in the last thirteen years were women and racial minorities. </li></ul><ul><li>However, unless students are culturally smart, fluent and comfortable in diverse settings, they will be unprepared for public and private life. </li></ul>
    8. 8. The Logic of Diversity Diversity of Identity, Beliefs, Experiences Diverse Perspectives Better Outcomes Source: Scott Page, “A Logic of Diversity II” (available online)
    9. 9. Benefits of Viewpoint Diversity <ul><li>Viewpoint diversity encourages better outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More creative and high-quality solutions to problems are generated when groups are comprised of individuals with different vantage points, skills, beliefs, or values. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heterogeneity promotes more critical strategy analysis, creativity, innovation, and high quality decisions. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Toolbox View ABD EZ AHK FD Alpha Group Diverse Group ADE BCD ABC BCD ACD BCD AEG IL
    11. 11. Multidisciplinary View Econ Soc Math Hist Alpha Group Diverse Group Econ Econ Econ Econ Econ Econ Polisci Bio
    12. 12. Logic of Diversity <ul><li>“ Most of the time the diverse group outperforms the group of the ‘most talented’ individuals by a substantial margin” </li></ul><ul><li>Whether in a laboratory or a democracy, diversity benefits everyone </li></ul>Source: Lu Hong and Scott Page, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2002)
    13. 13. Race Talk Is Important <ul><li>Race Talk is a critical avenue for allowing students to encounter diverse viewpoints. </li></ul><ul><li>However, numerical diversity is not enough. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students of diverse backgrounds sitting next to each other does not, by itself, result in the benefits of viewpoint diversity nor result in cultural fluency or break down racial stereotypes. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Achieving the Benefits of Viewpoint Diversity <ul><li>That requires moving beyond numbers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multicultural curricula: Students should be taught a diverse curriculum including the histories, cultures and contributions of all. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher Skill: Teachers must be able to manage classroom discussion on diversity and race. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Administrative Support: Schools should be comprised of culturally competent, racially and linguistically diverse school staff. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Techniques for Race Talk <ul><li>Explicit Ground Rules. Classrooms need safe, supportive space for discussion. </li></ul><ul><li>Use Stories, Books or Film as Conversation Starters and other ice breakers. Ice breakers are an easier way to start the conversation. Takes pressure off of the teacher to initiate and students are empowered. </li></ul><ul><li>Have Students Work together cooperatively . Use mock conversation starters or problems to address in a collaborative way. This will reduce potential inter-group conflict. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Techniques for Race Talk <ul><li>Facts matter. Not all students will buy the facts, but being armed with the facts helps enormously. </li></ul><ul><li>Practice Outside the Classroom First . Being comfortable talking about race is essential. </li></ul><ul><li>Bring It Home. Use contexts or issues that students are familiar with. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of Dominant Frames. Be aware of the primary talking points and frames that people use when thinking about race, particularly the colorblind frames. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Lesson Plan Ideas <ul><li>Ice Breaker for Middle School and High School Students: Have the students each share a situation in which they were a minority and felt different. This creates openness in the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>For Elementary Students: Divide the students by brown and blue eye color. Suggest that, on average, the students with blue eyes are smarter and more athletic. Then interview the students and ask how they feel about it: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be sure to get parental approval for this exercise! </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Lesson Plans <ul><li>Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>The following illustrates a collective classroom search for an expanded historical narrative. </li></ul><ul><li>In a 7 th grade class, students were asked to read a specific excerpt from their textbook and to revise a sentence to make it a true statement. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement: “When George Washington was elected president, only men who owned property or were wealthy could vote.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ms. Goodwin: “Angelica do you agree with that statement?” </li></ul><ul><li>Angelica: ”Yeah.” </li></ul><ul><li>Amos: “That’s not the right answer! Only white men could vote.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ms. Goodwin: “So correct the sentence. How should it read?” </li></ul>Source: Crichlow, W.E., Goodwin, S., Shakes, G. Multicultural Ways of Knowing: Implication for Practice. Journal of Education. v. 172 no2 (1990)
    19. 19. Lesson Plans <ul><li>(Cont.) Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>Amos: “When George Washington was elected president, only white men who owned property or were wealthy could vote.” </li></ul><ul><li>The dialogue continued on which groups were allowed to vote and which were barred from voting. Another sentence was read from the book: </li></ul><ul><li>“ By 1824, more than half the states had done away with these limits on voting rights.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ms. Goodwin: “Do you think that half of the states gave everybody their voting rights?” </li></ul><ul><li>Class: “Oh no, they didn’t do that!” </li></ul>Source: Crichlow, W.E., Goodwin, S., Shakes, G. Multicultural Ways of Knowing: Implication for Practice. Journal of Education v. 172 no2 (1990)
    20. 20. Lesson Plans <ul><li>(Cont.) Example of critical reading: </li></ul><ul><li>There was a list of race, class, and gender groups already written on the board: </li></ul><ul><li>White rich men Poor white men </li></ul><ul><li>White women Native American men </li></ul><ul><li>African American men Native American women </li></ul><ul><li>African American women </li></ul><ul><li>Class: “Oh! No, no, no, not women, the other white men got the right to vote next.” </li></ul><ul><li>Ms. Goodwin: “So when we look at the list on the board, it looks like only a few people could vote. Is that a democracy? </li></ul><ul><li>Class: “Yeah, for some people!” </li></ul><ul><li>Ms. Goodwin: “Well were we a total democracy?” </li></ul><ul><li>Class: “No.” </li></ul>Source: Crichlow, W.E., Goodwin, S., Shakes, G. Multicultural Ways of Knowing: Implication for Practice. Journal of Education. v. 172 no2 (1990)
    21. 21. Discussion Ideas <ul><li>Incidents and Current Events: Most schools have race “incidents.” A discussion of these incidents, when handled well, can be a very constructive way to start a dialogue on race because it directly affects students and they will likely have put some thought into it. Current events can be used as well. </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.&quot; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supreme Court Justice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sonia Sotomayor, October 26, 2001 </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Discussion Idea <ul><li>What are areas in our school that can be more integrated? [For example, the cafeteria, playground, etc.] How might our school reflect our values better? </li></ul><ul><li>Break the students up into groups to think about the problem and come up with a list of ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow up by asking if there are other areas of the schools, such as particular sports or classes that are diverse to raise awareness to the issue. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Discussion Issue: Addressing Explicit Racism <ul><li>Ask the students to raise their hands if they have heard friends or acquaintances make racist comments in passing. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Almost all should raise their hands if they are being honest. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now ask the class to keep their hands raised if they confronted their friend on the comment. </li></ul><ul><li>Then open the discussion (in a very non-judgmental way) to ask why they don’t confront friends for making racist comments. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest that the class come up with constructive ways to question friends who make inappropriate remarks. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Discussion Ideas <ul><li>Use made-up comments that include racist or racial undertones for classroom discussion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I don’t know about you, but all Asian kids are good at math and get good grades in math.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Present quote to the classroom and ask if this quote is racist. How would it be interpreted by an Asian or a non-Asian? </li></ul><ul><li>Ask then students to raise their hand if they would confront the person who said it. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest that the myth of the model minority harms other minorities by diminishing support for affirmative action. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Understanding Framing <ul><li>Framing is about how people think, and how they interpret information and process arguments. </li></ul><ul><li>Frames are ‘set paths for interpreting information’ that operate subconsciously. </li></ul><ul><li>All words are related to conceptual frames. These frames are ways in which people perceive and filter issues. </li></ul>
    26. 26. False Dichotomies and Framing From which top hat will the magician pull a bunny?
    27. 27. False Dichotomies and Framing <ul><li>Neither one. When a question is framed as a dichotomy, it is difficult to think outside of the “either – or” mindset. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Framing How messages are framed affects how they are perceived.
    29. 29. Colorblind Frames <ul><li>One barrier to talking about race is the belief that we shouldn’t be talking about race. This is known as colorblindness. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some even go so far as to say that talking about race is racism. That race is better left to our past and we should stop talking about it. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>There are four colorblind frames: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstract Liberalism (merit frame) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Naturalization (it’s just ‘natural’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural Racism (‘they’ don’t value education) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimization of racism (racism does not affect person’s life chances) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These frames most often operate with one another. </li></ul>
    30. 30. Abstract Liberalism Frame <ul><li>Abstract liberalism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rationalizes racial outcomes by assuming equal opportunity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Merit belief that most meritorious are rewarded </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Opposing to government intrusion (laissez-faire) </li></ul></ul>I don’t think that they should be provided with unique opportunities. I think they should have the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s up to them to meet the standards. I don’t think that just because you are a minority they should, you know, not meet the requirements.
    31. 31. Abstract Liberalism Frame - Responses [Reframe Merit] What is Merit? Is merit test scores? Or does background and life experience matter? [Question equal opportunity assumption] Are schools equal? Do all schools offer the same number of AP classes? Do all schools offer the same number of IB classes? Why do we have racially segregated schools? [Question assumption that only individual hard work matters] Sure – individual hard work matters, but do institutions also matter? Why do students work so hard to get into good colleges? [Question Govt. Intervention Frame] Should the government provide social security benefits to old people? Should government provide public education?
    32. 32. Naturalization Frame <ul><li>Naturalization is a frame that suggests that racial phenomenon is a natural occurrence. Although the idea that ‘people prefer people like themselves,’ might be thought of as racist, it is used to support colorblindness by suggesting that all people do it, including minorities. Thus, segregation is ‘natural’ or self-selecting. </li></ul>I don’t really think it’s a segregation. I mean, I think people, you know, spend time with people they are like, not necessarily in color, but you know, their ideas and values, and you know, maybe their class has something to do with what they’re used to. It’s just that people that I do hang out with are just the people that I’m with all the time. They’re in my organizations and stuff like that.
    33. 33. The Naturalization Frame - Responses <ul><ul><li>One counter technique is to talk about ways in which students are segregated in the school or clique by race. </li></ul></ul>Why do all of the white students sit with white students in the cafeteria? Do you think that families choose to live in poorer, low opportunity neighborhoods? Do historical government policies, including private discrimination in housing, play a role in segregation today? [Maybe make the point that the Fair Housing Act was only passed in 1968, decades after the suburbs were already built and excluded blacks]
    34. 34. Cultural Racism Frame <ul><li>Cultural racism is the culture frame: that blacks don’t value education or that Latinos have too many babies, etc. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No longer biological racism, but lack of ‘hygiene, family disorganization, or lack of morality’ have replaced it. </li></ul></ul>I don’t think, you know, they’re all like that, but, I mean, it’s just that if it wasn’t that way, why would there be so many blacks living in the projects? You know, why would there be so many poor blacks? If they worked hard, they could make it just as high as anyone else you know. You know, I just think that’s just, you know, they’re raised that way and they see what their parents are like.
    35. 35. The Cultural Racism Frame - Response <ul><li>Acknowledge that individual effort matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the role that institutions play in distributing opportunity. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask if a person who makes minimum wage and works several jobs is just ‘lazy’. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research shows that poor working adults spend more hours working each week than their wealthier counterparts. Economic Policy Institute (2002). </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. The Minimization of Racism Frame <ul><li>Minimization of racism is a frame that suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities life chances. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Even whites acknowledge that discrimination exists, but they deny its impact on group standing. </li></ul></ul>I think sometimes discrimination is used as an excuse because people felt they deserved a job, whatever. I think if things didn’t go their way I know a lot of people have a tendency to use racism or prejudice or whatever as an excuse. I definitely do not doubt that discrimination happens, but I think you have to look at the credentials and see if someone was qualified. I don’t think it’s as bad as it was. We have a black President. Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Obama – proof that anyone can make it now.
    37. 37. Minimization of Racism Frame - Response <ul><li>Suggest that structural inequality has its greatest impact on groups, not individuals. There have always been exceptionally successful people from all races and ethnicities. </li></ul><ul><li>The consequences of structural inequality are greater than those of personal racial animus. </li></ul><ul><li>While research indicates that implicit bias is more pervasive than explicit bias, overt discrimination in sectors like housing or lending tells us that racial prejudice is still alive. </li></ul>
    38. 38. Incorporating Diversity <ul><li>Q: What if I have a homogenous student population? </li></ul><ul><li>A: There are many creative ways to expose students to diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Example- multicultural curriculum </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teach social justice issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place students and their experiences at the center of the teaching and learning process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Place learning in a context that is familiar to students and that addresses multiple ways of thinking. </li></ul></ul>
    39. 39. Discussing Diversity <ul><li>Q: What if I’m not comfortable discussing diversity? </li></ul><ul><li>A: Now is a great time to recognize this! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explore your comfort level discussing issues of diversity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice talking about these issues with others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seek help from an advisor, mentor, or supportive organization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be open to learning from your students-remember no one is an expert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examine your own assumptions, prejudices and stereotypes </li></ul></ul>
    40. 40. Resources <ul><li>Use movies, articles, activities to facilitate discussions around stereotypes and prejudice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crash </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skin Deep </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tatum, Beverly Daniel. (2003). Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity. New York: Basic Books. </li></ul></ul>

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