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Chapter Six. Creating Classrooms that Address Race and Ethnicity. Roots of Racial and Ethnic Conflict in American Society. Causes may be political, economic, religious, linguistic, cultural, or racial.

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roots of racial and ethnic conflict in american society
Roots of Racial and Ethnic Conflict in American Society
  • Causes may be political, economic, religious, linguistic, cultural, or racial.
  • Conflict is usually due to a sense of injustice in the distribution of material, social, or cultural resources.
  • A knowledge of the sources and dimensions of conflict is necessary for understanding.
we have been different from the beginning
We Have Been Different from the Beginning
  • Columbus introduced European culture in the 1490s.
  • The Spanish, the French, the Portuguese, and the English colonized the Americas.
  • The English emerged as dominant, in part due to English immigrants’ desires for religious freedom.
religious tolerance short lived
Religious Tolerance Short-Lived
  • White, English-born Protestants were dominant by the turn of the 19th century.
  • Fear and persecution of “different” kinds of immigrants became prevalent, particularly with respect to
    • Roman Catholics
    • The Irish
the civil war era
The Civil War Era
  • Race in education became an issue after the Civil War.
  • Freedmen’s Schools were developed to educate the children of freed slaves.
  • Public education for black children was most often segregated, more often in the south than the north, but in the north as well.
  • Violence often characterized the development of black schools.
legislative and judicial landmarks
Legislative and Judicial Landmarks
  • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) – “Separate but equal” facilities for the races in schools and elsewhere is constitutional.
  • Brown v. Board of Education (1954) – “Separate but equal” doctrine is inherently unequal and unconstitutional.
the civil rights movement and the schools
The Civil Rights Movement and the Schools
  • The Equal Pay Act (1963)
  • The Voting Rights Act (1963)
  • The Civil Rights Act (1964)
  • The Bilingual Education Act (1968)
  • Title IX, Educational Amendments (1972)
  • Education of All Handicapped Children Act (1975)
characteristics of classrooms that address race and ethnicity
Characteristics of Classrooms that Address Race and Ethnicity
  • Pedagogies: Old and New
    • Teachers do not shy away from the deep-seated influence that race plays in people’s lives.
    • Teachers understand the historical significance of race.
    • Teachers are aware that majority children may not understand the role race plays in their lives.
Roles: Old and New
    • Teachers understand their roles as active agents of change.
    • Teachers reach out to individuals and community groups that represent various ethnic and racial groups.
    • Students interact with community groups working to change the status quo.
Place of Content Knowledge: Old and New
    • The history of diversity in the U.S. is a critical element.
    • The concept of “race” is often used incorrectly.
      • Genotype—shared genetic material
      • Phenotype—visible traits, e.g. skin color
  • Textbooks are often inaccurate and dated.
  • Content materials are often biased (intentionally or unintentionally).
Assessment: Old and New
    • Assessment instruments may be developed and normed with only one race or ethnic group in mind.
    • Assessments should consider the sociocultural context of the learner.
      • Biases and stereotypes
      • Prior experience of the learner
  • Assessments should be varied.
curriculum transformation the case of prejudice
Curriculum Transformation: the Case of Prejudice
  • It is human nature to surround oneself with others who provide social acceptance and help in times of need.
  • Individuals begin to think that the familiar behaviors of their group are good and natural.
  • It follows, then, that others may be perceived as “less good” and “less natural.”
  • These judgments may become harsh, discriminatory, and involve rejection.
the functions of prejudice katz
The Functions of Prejudice (Katz)
  • Adjustment: prejudicial attitudes that aid in adjusting to a complex world will be maintained
  • Ego-defensive: prejudicial attitudes that protect self-concepts
  • Value-expressive: prejudicial attitudes that demonstrate one’s own virtues
  • Knowledge: prejudicial attitudes that offer decision-making criteria about members of outgroups
prejudice formation
Prejudice Formation
  • Three components of prejudice:
    • Cognitive component: the process of categorization
    • Affective component: the feelings that accompany one’s thoughts about members of outgroups
    • Behavioral component: discriminatory practices towards members of outgroups


How Children Learn Prejudice
    • Observation of respected elders: socialization
    • Group membership: desire to mimic ingroup attitudes in order to belong
    • The media: reinforcement of stereotypes
    • Religious fundamentalism: belief that one holds the “truth,” that others are at best wrong, and at worst, dangerous
extreme cases of prejudice
Extreme Cases of Prejudice

Hate groups: any organized body that denigrates select groups of people based on their ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation and/or advocates the use of violence against such groups


White privilege: what occurs when members of the dominant group (in the U.S., whites) are taught that racism is something that puts others at a disadvantage, but are not taught to see the corresponding advantage their color brings to them
  • Racial Profiling: law enforcement practice of targeting someone for investigation in public spaces on the basis of a statistical profile of his or her race, ethnicity, or national origin
prejudice reduction
Prejudice Reduction
  • Critical to reducing prejudice and establishing an interculturally sensitive classroom is the teacher’s understanding of, and ability to integrate, intercultural awareness and prejudice reduction activities into the curriculum.
  • Intercultural sensitivity is not “natural”—cross-cultural contact has historically been accompanied by bloodshed, oppression, or genocide.
educational strategies to reduce prejudice
Educational Strategies to Reduce Prejudice
  • Improving social contact and intergroup relations
    • Equal status contact: when those who are brought together perceive they are of equal status
    • Superordinate goals: when the purpose of bringing people together cannot be accomplished without the participation of all


Encouragement of intergroup interaction: should become a positive school norm
  • Personal familiarity: people must have the opportunity to get to “know” the other person in ways that render the stereotypic image clearly inaccurate or inappropriate
some cautions in applying the contact hypothesis
Some Cautions in Applying the Contact Hypothesis
  • Many schools are monocultural, providing little opportunity for intergroup contact to occur; in such cases it is best to stress the diversity that is present, e.g., socioeconomic or gender diversity.
  • Equal status contact within the school may conflict with that which occurs outside the school.
The Importance of Critical Thought
  • Increasing Cognitive Sophistication
    • Improving students’ critical thinking skills
      • Questioning
      • Analyzing
      • Suspending judgment until all available information is collected and studied
ten criteria in the development of critical thought
Intellectual Curiosity

Objectivity; reliance on evidence


Flexibility in thinking

Intellectual skepticism

Intellectual honesty

Ability to be systematic


Ability to be decisive

Attentiveness to other points of view

Ten Criteria in the Development of Critical Thought
elements of classrooms that encourage critical thought
Elements of Classrooms that Encourage Critical Thought

Students feel respected and safe.

The classroom is a “community of inquiry.”

There is a balance between teacher-talk and student-talk.

Students are taught to think about their own thinking.

improving self confidence and self acceptance
Improving Self-Confidence and Self-Acceptance

A sense of self-worth and self-confidence supports the reduction of prejudice.

Students feel secure and accepted.

Student participation is valued.

Students know the boundaries and limits of behavior.

increasing empathy for and understanding of others
Increasing Empathy for and Understanding of Others

Long-term gains in prejudice reduction require educational activity that actively engages the emotions.

Writing stories or acting out dramatizations of cross-cultural situations

Any activity that enables students to “step into the shoes” of another

Classroom simulations that generate “culture shock”

something to think about
Something to Think About

…let’s think about the consequences of silence. I think about Hitler. He got into power by people around him being silent and not challenging him. When you are silent, you are giving tacit approval of the messages you hear around you…your simple comments can go quite far in making change.

--John Gray