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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals,


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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals,

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Dr. W.A. Kritsonis, National FORUM Journals,

  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 for candidates to engage in course work and discourse that challenge them to address their own racial identity development and attitudes about diversity topics. This qualitative study focuses on a sample from 29 teacher candidates’ responses to their participation in an interactive exercise addressing stereotypes. This essay considers the importance of engaging teacher candidates in candid discourse and reflection about their own biases and prejudices as a result of stereotypes. Qualitative measures reveal increases in awareness of biases and prejudices and a reduction of stereotypes. The findings also show the effectiveness of the instructor’s approach. Key Words: stereotypes, diversity, reflections, bias and prejudice When I saw you on the first day of class, I thought you displayed an extreme amount of confidence. You were very well dressed and when you spoke, you were very articulate. I was surprised you were African-American. You are the first African-American professor I have had in my studies at this institution. And honestly, because of your race, I assumed you were going to 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 female candidates. According to the National Education Association (NEA) 2005-6 Status of the American Public School Teacher report, 87 percent of all teachers are White. Many of these teacher candidates come from homogeneous environments. After completion of their certification programs, many of these White teachers will encounter students from different racial/cultural backgrounds that may conflict with their own. As a result of this fact, teacher education programs are charged with preparing teachers to teach all children. Diversity and multicultural education content is essential when addressing difference as it relates to privilege and oppression. One way to address oppression and difference is through the examination of stereotypes. As a result of history, socialization, and, in many cases, personal contact, people categorize others (consciously and unconsciously) on physical and social distinctions such as race, gender, and age (Fiske, 1998; Wheeler, et. al, 2005). Categorization or stereotyping (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 7-15 seconds to make a good first minute impression and four minutes for these same individuals to decide if they want to interact with a person beyond the first four minutes. Elsea identified the nine 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 • Touch These 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 education candidates to think critically about: (1) their own biases/stereotypes; (2) where stereotypes originate, and (3) how categorizing/stereotyping can affect children in the classroom or, more specifically, allowing the power of bias and prejudice as a result of stereotyping to dis-empower children. As it relates to stereotype and prejudice reduction, Rudman and others (2001) noted, “A key factor in multicultural training concerns awareness of one's own biases. Students are often 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 society that has historically oppressed ethnic minorities, stereotyping is part of the American social order that shapes negative attitudes and beliefs (Ehrlich, 1973; Devine, 1989). Taking account of my own prejudices, biases, and stereotypes and acknowledging my privileges ensure students that enlightenment about diversity is life-long. Critical engagement (intellectual and emotional), critical reflection, and ongoing self-reflection regarding one’s own biases, prejudices, and stereotypes drive my pedagogy for this exercise to answer the question: How can I encourage prospective 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 diversity education module. All participants were engaged in a foundational privilege exercise that exposed students to White, Male, Heterosexual, Ability, and Class Privilege. Students also engaged in intergroup dialogue, and some submitted reflections on their experiences. Exposure to this content allowed students to participate more openly in the day two exercise, addressing stereotypes and biases. Table 1 Student Demographics The participants in this study were enrolled in a requisite foundations course that met twice per week in the teacher education program at a Historically White Institution (HWI) in the northeast. The reflection papers utilized as data for this study were not solicited by the instructor. Students were, however, required to submit four written reflections on any course topic of their choice. The key concepts considered for this study are reaction and cultural awareness as a result of participating in this interactive exercise, lecture, and discussion designed to engage students emotionally and intellectually, while encouraging critical reflection. Process At the beginning of this session, students were instructed to identify 3-5 things they first noticed about the instructor on the first day of class. Students were later instructed to get into small groups and identify stereotypes for each group. After discussing their findings, each group shared their stereotypes of each group. The stereotypes documented by each section are discussed 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 thought Blacks/African-Americans are athletic, the common themes that emerged were the National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). As the top two sports in this country, it is easy to see how students think this. The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports reported, in 2008-09, 82 percent of players in the NBA were African-American, and in 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%) 75
  4. 4. 2007-2008, reported African-Americans made up 66%, and baseball represented only 10.2% of 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 2. Athletic 3. Good Dancers 4. Watermelon 5. Fried Chicken 6. Angry 7. Uneducated 8. Lazy 9. Always late 10. Criminals 11. Religious 12. Prison 1. Can’t dance 2. Racist 3. Un-athletic 4. Rich 5. Spoiled 6. Entitled 7. Arrogant 8. Uptight 1. Smart 2. Can’t Drive 3. Family Oriented 4. Passive 5. Nail Salons 6. Short 7. Good Food 8. Can’t Speak English 1. Short 2. Good Dancers 3. Large Families 4. Unemployed 5. Loud 6. Rude 7. Can’t Speak English 8. Machismo 9. Sexists 1. Drunks 2. Reservations 3. Spiritual 1. Dumb 2. Black 3. Rich 4. Entitled 5. Womanizers 6. Cheaters 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 • Violent • Uneducated Jewish • Cheap • Faith Chinese • Good food • Karate Puerto Rican • Loud • Good dancers Black Foot Male • Dumb • Rich African • Smart • Elitist Italian • Mafia • Good food Japanese • Technology Dominican • Good dancers • Romance Illini Female • Homo-sexual • Masculine Jamaican • Marijuana Polish • Dumb Russian • Vodka Columbian • Drugs Sioux 76
  5. 5. • Reggae • Alcoholics • Alcoholics • Soccer Haitian • Poor • Voodoo Canadian • Hokey Indian • Seven-11 • Spicy Food Cuban • Illegal • Good food Seminole 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 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): 77
  6. 6. “Otherness”  Race/ethnicity  Gender  Religion  Sexual Orientation  Socio-economic status  Age  Physical/Mental Ability Form of Oppression  Racism/ethnocentrism  Sexism  Religious oppression  Homophobia  Classism  Ageism  Ableism Students were later instructed to revisit their responses to the original instructions: to identify 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 question was asked. Here students are then introduced to Janet Elsea’s 4 minute sell as previously discussed. According to Elsea, skin color is the first thing people notice, but my race was not mentioned. Students were challenged to address why my race was not mentioned, especially since it is the most noticeable. To summarize the power point presentation and exercise, students are presented with the following questions: Student Responses How do the stereotypes recorded by the class make you feel? • Uncomfortable • 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 act unfairly toward another person? • Generalize • Ignore them Reflection on Experience 78
  7. 7. Students submitted reflections as one of their required assignments on any topic prior to the next scheduled class meeting. The following student responses represent student reactions to their participation in the exercise and discussion. Seventeen (17) students (59%) responded voluntarily 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 first is student reaction to the exercise, and the second theme is self-awareness of personal attitudes/beliefs and actions. Garmon (2005) defines “self-awareness as being aware of one’s own beliefs and attitudes; I define self-reflectiveness as having the ability and willingness to think 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 within the aforementioned themes. Both empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests student reactions demonstrate their engagement in the exercise. Student participation during the class exercise and their reactions in written reflections supports White’s (2009) theory that emotional engagement promotes critical reflection. Moreover, students identified both intellectual and emotional responses in their verbal class responses and written reactions. Self-awareness of personal attitudes/beliefs and actions Reaction to the exercise/discussion and critical reflection Wow! After participating in the stereotype exercise, it became apparent to me that I stereotype, a lot! Most of the stereotyping I do is unconscious, but I do it! And in some way or another, I believe everyone stereotypes to some extent. Whether it’s because of a person’s age, race, sex, religion…the list could go on and on. (WF) My first impressions of African Americans are usually that they are loud and obnoxious because they always were at my high school. I also think that they are very athletic because when we had gym class, the black people would always beat everybody in most situations. I also think that they are good at dancing and entertaining because the drill team at my high school had very talented black dancers and you could just tell they liked to dance. I also know they are very religious and go to church every Sunday, which is good. My first impressions of Asians are that they are very smart. The Asians in my school were always book smart and always very into technology. They took schoolwork very seriously and cared about their grades because it is enforced to them by their parents. Asians hold very high standards for school and grades and we can see that by test results comparing the United States and Japan. I also have an impression that Asians cannot drive and they do not comprehend English well, they are hard to understand with their accents. I also have an impression that a lot of Asians are short. My first impression of Latinos is that they are very talented Before doing this exercise in class, I had never realized how many stereotypes existed in society. I never heard the stereotype that black people are late and that Asians were considered passive. It is ignorant how people can make such broad generalizations about others. Teachers may stereotype their students based on race, religion, or ethnic background and how they function in the classroom. Of course this is wrong. Entire groups of people cannot be judged based on individual actions. (WM) Next, another exercise was written on the board. This time Black, White, Asian, Latino, Native American, and Athlete were broken down into three separate categories. Black was broken down to Jamaican, Tahitian, and Haitian. White was broken down into Italian, Jewish, and Polish. Asian broke down into Chinese and Russian. Athlete was characterized as male versus female. After breaking down the categories into further subgroups, more stereotypes arose. Each subgroup brought along different stereotypes. You could not classify the whole group now once it was broken down into the subgroup. I found this exercise interesting and informative. We went over nine things that people notice about others in descending order. Race, gender, age, appearance, facial expression, eye contact, movement, personal space, and touch were 79
  8. 8. in dancing and entertaining. They are very passionate about their culture and religion; they love to embrace it, which is a good thing. I also have an impression that a lot of Latinos kind of struggle with money, but they work hard for what they have. They also are very family centered people and tend to have bigger families. My first impression of Native Americans are that they embrace their reservations and where they live because it is very important to them to be surrounded by people in their same tribe and culture. I also hear a lot that Native Americans can become very depressed and deprived and a lot of them like to drink to forget about their problems. They are very spiritual and self-sufficient. Since I am a white female in this country, many different nationality groups would probably think that I am more privileged than they are. A lot of people think white people are superior and dominant in this country, which used to maybe be true, but times are changing. I do in some ways think white people have advantages, mostly sometimes dealing with money; but then again a lot of black and Latino people have good jobs and make a pretty good income for themselves. I think white people have a better chance of going to college, just because of the money situation, not because they are smarter than everybody else; but in some instances that is not true, there are a lot of different nationalities going to college now, not just white people. I still sometimes think that white men are privileged more in this country because a girl and a man can go for the same exact job and be exactly qualified for the job and the female being maybe even more qualified than the male, and the male gets the job, just because he is a male. Sadly, we all judge and have first impressions of people in this country and that will never change. (WF) Today our discussion focused on stereotypes and preconceived notions of individuals based on the way they appear. When first thinking about this concept, I began asking myself if I did this and how often I actually judge individuals based on their appearance. I realized that I do this daily and it is not something I even notice myself doing. I then thought to myself, how terrible is that? To judge someone based on their race, the way they dress, and just a person’s overall appearance is completely judgmental. Unfortunately, this is the type of society we live in today. I can honestly say that when looking at the big picture, it is not right, but it is something I do daily. (WF) Another topic we discussed in class was stereotypes. There was some debate over whether all stereotypes are negative. I think stereotypes will be with us forever. Some stereotypes are false, but I actually have to agree with Bill Maher’s view on stereotypes. In the power point, I believe he was quoted as saying “All stereotypes are true.” At first this seems ignorant and possible racist, but as a fan of his comedy and brand of humor I know what he was trying to get at. Stereotypes are the nine items. (WF) I was very surprised by the way that stereotypes can influence the way you may treat students in your class. I never consciously think about the different stereotypes that accompany every ethnicity or race, but going over some of the stereotypes in class I thought back to my fieldwork. At every school I had been at, I could think of at least one incident I witnessed firsthand that revolved around a stereotype. Sometimes it may have been a joke, but from an outsider looking in, I felt uncomfortable just witnessing it. Although the teacher and some of the students laughed, the other students and maybe even the one at the center of it were unsettled and that could carry over into students losing control or respect for you as the teacher, or worse. (WF) While listening to my fellow classmates views on race I realized the negative impact that common stereotypes can have on targeted groups of people. The fact that these negative connotations still exist must mean that they are believed by the common population. Thus our country is not reaching its fullest potential to succeed. People must really think that these negative connotations hold water, but in reality they are false. Not all Asians are bad drivers and smart, not all African Americans are late or loud, (not all whites are nerdy, crackers and rich, and not all Jewish people are successful. The list goes on and on, but there is a constant, they are all negative. Even though the stereotype “all Jewish people are successful”, seems positive, it can still have a negative effect on the Jewish population. For instance, we must think about the Jewish individuals who do not live up to this expectation. These individuals most likely see this as an insult or offensive. This is also true for Asians who might not all be intelligent as thought by the majority. People cannot be judged by their race, color, or creed; but on their actions. People cannot be judged as a whole; every person is unique in their own way and cannot be grouped into stereotypes. (WM) Some other important things we discussed was the fact that people are discriminated based on their appearance, lifestyles, sexuality, race, social class, etc. Also the fact that teachers have been known to make fun of their Homosexual students by called them names such as “fag” and other offensive names. This particular information struck me because as humans we all have our biases based on our pasts, our experiences, the media, what we read in our history books, etc. Therefore, as future teachers we have to be conscious of these so it does not reflect how we relate and interact with our students in a 80
  9. 9. generalizations and usually have some basis in fact. The problem is that ignorant people only know the stereotype and not the “why.” The stereotype that blacks are criminals isn’t true, but it is true that they are overrepresented in our jail system. An ignorant person sees that as proof that they are criminals or more prone to criminal behavior. An intelligent person sees that skin color has nothing to do with it. If you take history into account and socioeconomic factors, you start to see a clearer picture. The stereotype that blacks are faster than other groups is true (at least I believe so). I don’t think it has anything to do with color though. There are many factors that play a role. Also, it doesn’t mean every black person is fast. As we discussed in class, blacks that were brought to this country as slaves were bred to be bigger and stronger. In Africa, the blacks there spend a lot more time engaged in running or exercising as compared to the average American. Here we have cars and the need to run is usually one of choice not necessity. (WM) People are constantly being judged based on every aspect of one’s life. I purposely stated every aspect of a person’s life because it is true. We are judged according to what schools we have attended in our lives, our race, our gender, our religion, our social class, our ethnic group, our political beliefs, and I could go on forever. We as individuals are truly judged on every aspect of our lives. I am not saying everyone is judged according to everything I mentioned, but I do believe that on an average day, every person is stereotyped in some way based on one those characteristics. We as individuals are so different and that is what makes the world go around. If we were all the same, then what would we talk about? It would be a pretty boring world in my opinion. (WF) I believe that, as future educators, we cannot deny the fact that stereotypes exist or even deny that they are sometimes true. As educators we have to be able to help our students use all the pieces of information learned in application to the real world. Students have to learn the good and bad sides of stereotypes. Even if we taught students to turn a deaf ear to any stereotypes heard, there will be that one day in the child’s life when they will start listening. In a perfect world there would be no stereotypes and people will learn to accept other people at face value and have no preconceived notions about them. Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world. There are good and bad stereotypes, just as there are good and bad people. It’s not a teacher’s job to tell their students how to deal with information learned about other people. It is our job to help students realize how to use the information to develop their own idea of the world and its inhabitants. (LF) negative way. In closing, I thought this class exercises were great. It allowed us to see each other’s differences, similarities, and our biases for what they are. After doing this exercise I have further hope that our American school teachers can move past the student’s race, nationality, sexuality, etc. and focus on merely on educating our children because that should be the main objective beyond anything else. (BF) In class we discussed stereotypes and how they were not true. Fellow students said that there were some stereotypes that were good, but the fact is that there is no such thing as a good stereotype. It is easy to pick out the “bad” stereotypes like all black people like fried chicken and red cool aid, or all white people cannot dance. Stereotypes like all Asians are smart and good at math, or all black people are athletic are considered “good”, but what happens to an Asian child who is not good at math? Or a young black child that is not good at sports? They are then ridiculed for not fitting into their own stereotype. (WM) During class we discussed the issues surrounding diversity. Specific diversity issues included race, ethnicity, and religion. Throughout the discussion we related our own personal views and stereotypes to those views of the class and the rest of the world. Throughout the discussion of diversity it became evident to me that stereotypes only inhibit the progression of our world. 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 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) 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 of critical reflection. Students demonstrated an understanding of the negative consequences stereotypes have on their future students. Because students were not required to reflect on this exercise, the high response rate not only indicated the students’ willingness to understand their biases and stereotypes, but also demonstrated the students’ self-journey towards self-growth and awareness. 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 imply that prejudices, stereotypes or pre-conceived notions of participants will disappear, but they will be challenged to think critically about the impact of stereotypes. Findings show participants in the stereotype exercise and discussion became more aware of stereotypes and their own biases and stereotypes and their negative effects on students. Students became more knowledgeable of the impact of diversity within diversity and the primary, secondary, and tertiary dimensions of diversity. Students displayed emotions during the exercise and in their reflective writing, and that allowed them to think critically about oppressive systems and behaviors that may impact their students. Finally, students acknowledged their roles in eliminating stereotypes in their practice, despite the reality stereotypes will remain present in society. Unfortunately, minority participation was limited, but the low numbers were not only a reflection of the lack of diversity in this teacher education program, but most programs. Multiple perspectives are especially important when addressing issues related to diversity and social justice. Future studies could address multiple courses and graduate courses to analyze attitudes during and after the exercise. As teacher educators, it is our responsibility to transform aspiring teachers by exposing them to the theories, language, and practices that maintain status quo. This is 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 of interactive exercises and candid discourse addressing topics of diversity challenge students to think critically and, in most cases, reveal emotional changes. Hopefully, the methods described will enable all educators of diversity and social justice to address stereotypes and other issues of diversity without conflict. References Allport, 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. 84
  13. 13. White, K. R. (2009). Using preservice teacher emotion to encourage critical engagement with diversity. Studying Teacher Education, 5(1), 5–20. Author Darrell Cleveland is Assistant Professor, School of Education in The Richard Stockton College of NJ, Pomona, NJ 08240. 85