A Multicultural Project Based Learning Engagement Amber Coyle, Brianne Mcgowan, Wade Gillette, Katherine Meriwether, Emily Blum

  • Racism is defined as any prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.

Dreams, Hope, and American Racism

The need to address and combat racism in schools is just as prevalent today as ever. Students and teachers alike can either intentionally or unintentionally express racist opinions. However, intentional or not, racism can have disastrous outcomes for students. Racism doesn't just hurt the victims of racism but also the aggressors.

Teachers can combat racism in the classroom by promoting a multicultural education curriculum. By including material that exemplifies different perspectives, teachers can begin the conversation about racism with students.

  • Sexism is the belief that one sex is naturally superior to the other and should dominate most important areas of political, economic, and social life.

The Pink Tax: Why Women's Products Often Cost More

When Men Experience Sexism

While it may be true that sexism mostly affects women, we can't ignore that sexism affects men as well. In the majority of court cases involving children, mothers are awarded custody even if the father is just as capable. Men are also victims of domestic assault and the female attackers often go uncharged legally.

Whether it is sexism against women or sexism against men, sexist attitudes affect everyone. When someone holds sexist beliefs they are discriminating against approximately 50% of the population. As future teachers, it's incredibly important to address any sexist beliefs we might hold early on so we can correct the thoughts/behaviors resulting from sexist beliefs. 

  • Classism is defined as the systematic assignment of worth based on social class. Policies and practices are set up to benefit more class privileged people at the expense of less class privileged people.

As A Poor Kid From The Rust Belt, Yale Law School Brought Me Face-to-face With Radical Inequality

Studying in an area where most children fall either close to or under the poverty line, it's important to acknowledge the affects of classism. Many people can hold classist beliefs without realizing it. Child who are underprivileged are often made to feel as if they aren't as smart as or as good as their more privileged peers. It's important to address these issues early on both in ourselves and in our students.

Teachers first need to assess their own beliefs about class and how that might affect their classrooms. If a teacher thinks that poor kids are dumb, they aren't likely to get the attention they need. Oftentimes unfair beliefs held by others can lead to children believing those false misconceptions. Because of stereotype threat, if teachers/parents believe that children of lower socioeconomic status aren't as capable as other more privileged students, those students will likely perform only to the ability level that the teachers/parents expect them to.

  • Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion or feeling (good or bad) formed without knowledge, thought, or reason that often incites judgement or hostile feelings.

Oftentimes prejudices are held without the knowledge of those holding them. Everyone has held some sort of prejudice in their lifetime and that's okay. What's not okay is failing to address and correct those beliefs and the behaviors that can result. It's incredibly important for teachers to recognize when they're thinking in a way that is prejudicial and correct that way of thinking as quickly as possible. These prejudicial thoughts can lead to discrimination.

  • Discrimination is defined as the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

The Consequences of Discrimination in the Classroom

There are many types of discrimination which are all equally bad. Some of these include; race, age, and sex. Discrimination has no place in the classroom (or outside). Each student should be treated equally. It's important to recognize how prejudice can lead to discrimination and catch prejudices early on before they become an act of discrimination. Discrimination could impact a student for his/her entire life and not allow them to fully achieve to their potential. It should be the goal of every teacher that his/her students succeed to their ability. Discrimination is a huge problem that can hinder student success.

  • Stereotypes are defined as widely held (but fixed and oversimplified) images or ideas of a particular type of person or thing.

Negative Stereotypes Shown to Affect Learning, Not Just Performance

Stereotypes are everywhere. Stereotypes are also extremely harmful. When we put a whole category of people or peoples into a box, we are limiting them. For example, to say all blondes are dumb. That's a stereotype. Obviously we can see how that might be harmful to someone who has blonde hair. We are making a statement based only on one characteristic of a person without regard to their personality traits, beliefs, values, etc. When we think of more harmful stereotypes that affect a whole race (like African American stereotypes or Asian stereotypes) we're limiting a whole category of people and equating them to all be the same. This is extremely unfair and can be harmful to students and teachers alike.

  • Ableism is defined as the discrimination or prejudice of people who have disabilities and gives favor to those who are able-bodied. This can take the form of ideas, assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes, practices, physical barriers in the environment, or larger scaled oppression.

6 Forms of Ableism We Need to Eliminate Right Now

As future teachers, it's almost 100% likely that we'll all probably have a student who is disabled at some point in our careers. That's why it's important to tackle the idea of ableism early on. Without realizing it, teachers can holds prejudices or discriminate against those with disabilities. It's easy to make negative generalizations about people with disabilities but it must be addressed and corrected as soon as possible. Students with disabilities are oftentimes just as capable as students without disabilities. Other students might require more time and effort in order to see success. However, each child deserves an education that best fits their needs. 

  • Xenophobia is defined as the intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.

Xenophobia goes beyond prejudice and discrimination and goes farther. Xenophobia is usually a more intense dislike or fear of people from other countries. It's important to recognize xenophobic behaviors. Students come from all around the world and it's important that we treat them all equitably. It would be extremely hard to teach a student that you were fearful of. That's why we need to talk about xenophobia and get to the root of the fear so it can be addressed and hopefully eliminated altogether. Xenophobia is harmful to everyone but can be especially harmful to the victims. Acts of violence often occur because of xenophobic ideas/beliefs.

  • Homophobia is defined as the dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people.

Even though gay marriage has been legalized, there is still a lot of backlash towards people of the LGBT community. Some people are even fearful of it's members. Even though teachers probably shouldn't be involved in the love lives of their students, it's still likely that teachers will overhear conversations pertaining to them. Teachers have to recognize that even though they may not agree with student's personal lives, these feelings/beliefs cannot cross over into the classroom. A teacher should never even pass judgement onto their students based on sexual orientation. We live in an ever-diversifying world where there are huge amounts of variety between students and teachers alike and it's time we accept those differences.

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Amber Coyle

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