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epeck's picture

I agree that stereotypes are

I agree that stereotypes are very useful and although the term is thrown around as such a negative thing, the ability to form stereotypes is valuable.  So, when I first learned about stereotype threat I also was sort of unsure how to approach the idea.  I think the key for me was realizing that some stereotypes are basically dated.  For example, the common stereotype (that Angela brought up in class) that men are inherently better at math than women seems very dated to me, and also not very useful - however stereotypes tend to hang around, and so I think a lot of people still think about men and women as having somewhat polar mental abilities.  Then there's the issue of paying attention to every stereotype in the classroom, which is also probably impossible.  I think the solution for this can be simple and can just consist of teaching students that they are individuals and are prepared for a task which they may face, despite the stereotype which may tell them otherwise.  In many articles about stereotype threat, "solutions" include:

-attributing a student's stress to a task, rather than a stereotype ("this task may be difficult because you're uncomfortable with the material, not because you'll do worse than another group based on x stereotype")

-teaching students about stereotype threat

-confirming a student's abilities

-providing role models that defy stereotypes

-never stressing a stereotype

and many other possible solutions.  So - I think yes, stereotypes definitely help us identify who is safe/dangerous, what group we may get along with, and many other useful things, but the real issue is those stereotypes that have been propagated but are not useful or true.  I think it also goes back to what Prof. Grobstein said about self-identity influencing ability.

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