Teacher Bias vs. Students By: Julia Chan

Teacher Bias vs. Students

“In a school with academic tracking, taking honors classes can come to seem risky for low-income and minority students, particularly those who already have top grades in standard classes.” Alycia Sato, a counselor at Laguna Creek High School, Calif., says. The question is, why are honors classes intimidating for minority students? Certain teachers have less expectations for other students and treat them differently because of external traits. Teachers have biased points of views of students because of their income, race, and/or gender.

To sum up the video, learning is best in comfortable, positive environments. When students are feeling pleasant in learning environments, they release a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine helps students remember facts better. AKA, it's best for students to be in positive learning environments.

Unconscious bias and/or micro-aggression usually are negative things that shouldn't be in classrooms. It usually makes students less comfortable and creates negative learning environments. However, in 2010, in a study by Mary Anne Meeks, students reported they had experienced a majority of 21 types of microaggressions at least once during their high school careers, such as teachers assuming a black student was poor without asking, or acting surprised or giving outsize praise for being articulate. This is becoming a large problem that we need to fix. Some people have argued that people can’t easily defeat their bias’ and instantly change their expectations in a child. Granted, there are bias’ that are hard to completely defeat, but it isn’t completely impossible to change bias.

^Definition of Microaggression^

The Power of Higher Expectations

A basic diagram of how the Pygmalion Effect works

The Pygmalion Effect (from the Greek myth Pygmalion and Galatea) is when higher expectations cause one's improvement. Robert Rosenthal coined the term after carrying out an experiment where he gave students (at Spruce Elementary School) fancy, new IQ tests. Then, he told teachers that a specific group of people would improve heavily on their studies. As predicted, that specific group did improve heavily. The youngest children’s IQ scores increased by more than 27 points. Then, Rosenthal told them the truth. The children that were predicted to improve heavily were actually picked at random. The high expectations from teachers were the true motivation that got them to improve. This was an amazing breakthrough, considering the fact that at the time, people believed that IQ scores were genetically decided. Many people will agree with the fact that when teachers have higher expectations of their students, they’ll perform better. However, Rosenthal's experiment was met with large amounts of criticism. “Pygmalion is so defective technically that one can only regret that it ever got beyond the eyes of the original investigators!” wrote Columbia University’s Robert Thorndike, an expert in educational and psychological testing…..Thorndike...charged that Rosenthal used faulty data from the first IQ test, including what Thorndike said were impossibly low initial IQ levels, which, he suggested, skewed the later results.” (Ellison). In which Rosenthal responded that “... even if the initial test results were faulty, that didn’t invalidate the subsequent increase, as measured by the same test. Moreover, Rosenthal says, the design for the experiment Thorndike found so flawed had previously won an award from the American Psychological Association.”(Ellison)

Despite the information given, the way teachers are teaching their students still remain the same. Teacher’s bias’ are negatively affecting students’ learning. The only way we can improve students’ learning is to teach teachers to have higher expectations and a more open mind.

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