Stereotype Threat in The School System

When thinking about racism in general I normally do not think of the consequences it has in the school systems. After reading the Steele article I realized how influential stereotype threat can be to Black men and women. Its important to focus on this topic due to the fact that education is such a important factor in our society and and opens one up to many necessary resources to succeed in this world. These resources should be available for everyone but unfortunately as Steele has shown us, it is not the case.

Steele found that stereotype threat affects academic performance, more so in stronger students than weaker students. The stereotype threat works in the way that Black students already know that due to common stereotypes they are less likely to do well or succeed especially on hard tasks compared to other students. therefore when doing a task that is hard they are reminded of this limited ability and experience extra intimidation, therefore fulfilling the threat and performing poorly. White students on the other hand do not experience this due to the fact that they do not have that extra intimidation weighing on them.

After talking about this in class I could not help but think of a time I felt this way. When it came time to taking the SATs I was told by many people just to expect that I would not due as well as other students due to the fact that I have learning disabilities. Looking back on it, this influence definitely effected my performance on the SATs and brought up the stereotype that students with learning disabilities do not do as well on testing. Sure enough I did horribly on the SATs and confirmed the stereotype. The experience of taking the SATs was not a good one and made me feel bad about myself. I cannot even imagine experiencing stereotype threat like that every day.

Therefore it is EXTREMELY important for teachers and students to become aware of stereotype threat and try to eliminate it in the classrooms! One of the main things I liked about this article was that Steele gave some hope into fixing this problem. He suggests that solution for stereotype threat relies more in fixing social mistrust rather than self esteem. If we can figure out a way to gain trust of the students that the classrooms are racially fair then hopefully this can limit the effects of stereotype threat. Although there is no exact answer of how to achieve this trust it is important for people to become aware of this and start trying to figure out ways to achieve this!

3 thoughts on “Stereotype Threat in The School System

  1. I agree with Lexie. I was also really surprised that the stronger students were the ones who suffered from stereotype threat. I also can’t imagine being told I wouldn’t do well on something because like Jordan my parents told me I would do well on the SAT’s (and other tests) because I was smart and I’d studied hard. I think that many people believe that black students in general don’t do as well in school as white students because of their socioeconomic status but clearly stereotype threat plays a role in the gap between white bad black student’s test scores.

  2. This conversation about the Steele article also resignated with me. I actually started to feel a little guilty about all the positive motivation I had received from my parents prior to taking the SAT’s. They repeatedly told me things like, “You’re a smart girl, of course you’ll do better than most. It’s just a test, you’re good at tests.” I never thought that these kind of encouragements could give me such an advantage.

  3. I was really interested to see that the stereotype threat affected people more when they were stronger students. I would have assumed that they would be confident in their skills and would feel like the exception to the rule. I now see that a student who is strong in his or her abilities will feel extra threat because of the threat of losing something he or she is strong in and endorsing a negative stereotype, especially when this individual has been trying to disprove the stereotype every day.

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